BOXING

Kathy Duva Talks Kovalev & Ward Promotional Duties and PPV Buy Hopes

Main Events and Sergey Kovalev are keen to see some switches this time around when “Krusher” and Andre Ward glove up, in Las Vegas, June 17.

For very obvious starters, Kovalev wants to get his hand raised by the ref after however many rounds it goes.

But also, leading up to fight night, Main Events’ boss Kathy Duva told me that she will let Andre Ward be the lead dog in hyping the faceoff. Last time, she told me, Kovalev didn’t say no to any media request. This time, she will hold him back, and let him spend less time hyping.

“God love him him, he never says no…this time I’m gonna say no a little bit. We’re not gonna drag him around the country like last time. Andre’s the champion now, let him carry the show, it’s his turn now,” said Duva at a Monday presser, at Le Parker Meridien, in a penthouse setup.

Duva said last time she’d, say, ask Roc to ask Ward to Tweet something out, and it didn’t work, so this time they will just work their side of the street more so.

And regarding the show…Duva said that fans like promotions which feature two leads who want to knock each others’ faces off. There is more of that vibe going into the rematch, she said. She believes that this show—the last one did about 160,000 PPV buys— could do better, because last time, boxing had been off the air for like two months, besides a PPV (Canelo). “You had the election, people were going crazy and you had Pacquiao fighting in the same town two weeks earlier, on PPV. We were climbing a mountain last time. We’re in a much better situation promotionally. Unless a war starts, which apparently could happen, we won’t have the whole country’s attention diverted. Look, the NFL was doing twenty percent below their usual numbers. This didn’t just affect us! This last fight underperformed twenty percent from what we expected and frankly, based on what we were up against, we were lucky that’s all it did! So maybe because a better environment and maybe a little more pizzaz, because there’s a little more spark, we may be fine. We’ll see.”

Notes: The last PPV up for sale was the Gennady Golovkin vs Danny Jacobs event, on March 18. ESPN said it did a bit over 170,000 buys, and that was lower than organizers hoped and wished for. Bob Arum said the November 2016 Manny Pacquiao-Jessie Vargas PPV did a bit over 300,000 buys, before the first Ward v Kovalev tango. There was to be a PPV in February, with Miguel Cotto topping that against James Kirkland, but an injury to Kirkland was cited when the plug got pulled weeks before on that one. Boxing fans will be offered Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko on PPV April 29, then Canelo Alvarez v Julio Cesar Chavez will be a premium purchase option on May 6. Manny Pacquiao, it is said, wants his next fight, July 2 against Jeff Horn, OFF PPV, so that might be in the PPV mix upcoming. Showtime has steered away from that method of platforming, while HBO has embraced it more heartily in the last two years. In comparison, MMA fans are used to paying up for premium, and so far haven’t seemed to balk en masse at being asked to pony up a premium to see UFC’s best fare. We shall see if the trend, one of disappointment for promoters when the numbers are tallied, continues.

Michael Woods
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Michael Woods.

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