Kathy Duva confident Ward-Kovalev PPV a hit
Main Events CEO Kathy Duva is confident that casual sports fans will latch on to the match between light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and former super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward and reward organizers with robust pay-per-view numbers on HBO.
Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 knockouts) and Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) aren’t exactly household names but Duva said that both camps will be working overtime to sell their prowess as boxers and personalities to the mainstream public to justify putting the bout on PPV on Nov. 19.
“So we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Duva said on Tuesday in Manhattan before a press conference for the bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “This isn’t going to be four million buys, obviously. We went in with rather modest aspirations and I think we’ll reach that.”
Duva declined to reveal what the initial expectations are on pay-per-view, but according to other industry sources, most believe it will do greater than the 150,000 buys that Gennady Golovkin’s demolition of David Lemieux last October engendered and perhaps match or do less than say what Canelo Alvarez did in his sixth-round knockout of Amir Khan in May, which was reportedly in the neighborhood of 460,000 buys. Duva was heartened by the public’s early reaction to tickets going on sale Friday.
“We had a limited pre-sale on Thursday and at this point, we have, without counting consignments, close to 2 ½ million dollars in the box office already,” she said. “So somebody found out about this and we haven’t had a press conference yet or spent a dime on advertising yet. So box office is a really good indication of how the pay-per-view will go and I’m so far thrilled. I think the casual fans will find out (and tune in).”
Duva argued the matchup between Kovalev and Ward is just the type of pairing that deserves to be on pay-per-view. She cited the presence of both Ward and Kovalev in The Ring’s pound-for-pound rankings as a good reason why the fight deserves to be on the platform. It’s just the third time since the magazine started pound-for-pound lists in 1989 that two boxers in the top 5 have clashed. (Kovalev is No. 2 and Ward is fourth.)
“I think that pay-per-view fights should be the best fights you can possibly make,” Duva said. “This is exactly the type of fight that should be on pay-per-view because you have a 50-50 fight between two undefeated fighters, two fighters in the top five (pound-for-pound rankings), only the third time this has happened since Ring started keeping track of these records. Those two fights, Taylor-Chavez and De La Hoya-Trinidad took place on pay-per-view. It’s been 17 years since we’ve had two top 5 pound-for-pound fighters fighting each other with undefeated records. That is something special and that’s what pay-per-view is supposed to be for — something special.”