Sunday, 04 June 2017 21:18

Ward vs Kovalev 2 undercard: The pros and cons of Stevenson vs Joe Smith Jr

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Some on the boxing forums have suggested the perfect undercard, or co-feature, for Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev 2 would have been a showdown between Adonis Stevenson and Joe Smith Jr.

And in a perfect world, that couldn't make any more sense. After all, Stevenson vs Smith Jr would double the event's intrigue and showcase the world's (arguably) hottest light heavyweights on the same card, with the expectation the winners would face each other next.

That makes sense but...

1. It would take four promoters to come together to make it happen. They'd have to agree on location, venue, television rights, sponsorship money and the preliminary match-ups among other things.

2. Adonis Stevenson, the WBC light heavyweight champion, has been a headliner for years. Placing him on the undercard, even if it's dubbed the 'co-main event,' is something his promotional team would be leery about. Sometimes perception trumps reality, and the presumed perception (to the casual fan) would be Adonis and Smith were inferior to headliners Kovalev and Ward.

3. Joe Smith's team, at this point, would probably be hesitant to put its man against a fighter as seasoned and polished as Stevenson. If you're Team Smith, you're going to try to build off the momentum generated from the Hopkins fight and parlay Joe's boost in stock Joe into something even bigger.

Smith is a good fighter but it would have been unwise to put him in the ring with an opponent like Adonis Stevenson, Artur Beterbiev or Jean Pascal right away; especially given there's not a lot of public demand for those bouts.

Did you see how monstrous Stevenson looked last night against Fonfara?

4. Money would be an issue. Money is always an issue but it would be the proverbial 'straw that broke the camel's back' as it relates to a Stevenson vs Smith undercard match-up.

Last fall, Ward vs Kovalev only generated 175,000 PPV buys. And while the addition of Adonis Stevenson vs Joe Smith Jr would enhance purchases, there wouldn't be enough money to go around after the uptick.

Rest-assured, to face Jos Smith, Jr, Team Stevenson would want a paycheck comparable to Kovalev's. Stevenson is used to fighting in his hometown of Quebec where his purse sums are inflated. For him to fight a top guy outside of Quebec, Adonis would have to be guaranteed the purse sums he's accustomed to when fighting at home.

Ward vs Kovalev 2 News
Date: June 17
Broadcast: HBO
Location: Las Vegas
Venue: Mandalay Bay

Division: Light heavyweight
Titles: WBA, WBO and IBF
Champion: Ward 

It's still a wonderful thought
Adding Stevenson and Joe Smith, Jr would make for a dynamic night of boxing. All four fighters would be able to showcase their respective brands in front a large and diverse audience, and it would serve as the perfect platform in the build-up to the ultimate showdown of winner vs winner

... But everything comes down to money. Even if the promoters could somehow agree on a venue, location and who would fight in the prelims, money would be the deciding factor.

Team Smith would want to be handsomely compensated for the risk, and Team Stevenson would want to receive the revenue they're accustomed to - and more - for being forced to fight on someone else's headliner.

In a lot of ways, Stevenson vs Smith on the Ward vs Kovalev 2 undercard would make a lot of sense... But not enough dollars.

Leroy Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.