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Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward: PPV buys prediction and obstacles

Lee Cleveland Updated
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One of the biggest fights in light heavyweight history will take place November 19 as two unbeaten, top pound-for-pound boxers will meet in a true superfight.

Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs), the WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion will face Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KOs), a two-time world super middleweight champion who is now a legitimate light heavyweight.

(Image courtesy of t-mobilearena.com)

It's not often we see two unbeaten, top 5 pound-for-pound champions who are believed to be in their primes get the opportunity to face one another?

Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward is special.

Superfight obstacles

Ever since Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao in May 2015, the boxing pay-per-view market in the U.S. has been in a lull.

PPV prices have increased while casual fans' interest level has decreased. Quality match-ups, ever since Floyd vs Manny, aren't generating the level of interest they deserve.

In addition, Kovalev vs Ward will be competing with Manny Pacquiao vs Jessie Vargas, another PPV showdown two weeks prior but in the same month. And many blue collar Americans would rather not see an additional $140 added to a single month's cable bill.

On Joseph Herron's War a Week Radio, Hall of Fame matchmaker and promoter Don Chargin suggested most boxing fight fans will not purchase both fight cards. 

"It's not good… both events get hurt to a point," stated the knowledgeable fight promoter on Wednesday night's edition of War a Week Radio. "One always gets hurt more than the other, but they both will suffer as a result of staging two PPV events in the same month."

"We're talking about a good chunk of money for most hard-working people…it's a lot to ask of them to support two shows just two weeks apart."

And lastly, Ward and Kovalev, despite their accomplishments, aren't household names in the U.S. like Mayweather, Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto. In fact, they aren't yet on the same level as emerging mainstream stars Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez. But this fight's winner may very well be immediately thrusted into mainstream stardom.


Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward PPV 
Date: November 19, 2016
Network: HBO PPV

Location: Las Vegas
Venue: T-Mobile Arena

Division: Light Heavyweight
Titles: WBA, IBF, WBO
Champion: Sergey Kovalev

Favorite: Slightly Ward

Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward is one of the best match-ups over the last ten years and the biggest, most significant fight of 2016, and will certainly make its mark in the annals of light heavyweight history. However, Manny Pacquiao is a sports legend who has a huge fanbase. He will generate a fair share of buys.

Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward PPV buys prediction

So how will Kovalev vs Ward perform?

Don't be surprised if it exceeds expectations.

This fight is a hardcore fan's dream. Any boxing fan without an extremely high interest in this bout isn't a true boxing junkie.

Given the pros and cons revolving around this fight, look for Ward vs Kovalev to generate roughly between 500,000 and 600,000 PPV buys, slightly more or slightly less than Canelo vs Khan in May.

The equalizer: Although neither Ward nor Kovalev have Canelo's drawing power and, arguably, Khan's name recognition, hardcore fans are a lot more excited for Andre vs Sergey. That stated, it will fail shy of numbers generated by Cotto vs Canelo, two mainstream fighters with solid fanbases. Nevetheless, Kovalev vs Ward is just as significant if not more notable.

Below is a list of estimated PPV buys based on various sources for fight cards post Mayweather vs Pacquiao in May 2015.

  • Canelo vs Cotto - 900,000
  • Canelo vs Khan - 600,000
  • Mayweather vs Berto - 400,000 - 500,000
  • Pacquiao vs Bradley 3 - 400,000 - 500,000
  • Canelo vs Smith 250,000 - 300,000
  • Golovkin vs Lemieux - 150,000

Are you buying Ward vs Kovalev, Pacquiao vs Vargas, both fights or neither?

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