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Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev rematch was a pay-per-view flop

Attendance, gate revenue, PPV buys, they were all down for the second showdown between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev.

Andre Ward v Sergey Kovalev 2 Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Andre Ward’s controversial eighth-round TKO victory over Sergey Kovalev put him up 2-0 in their rivalry, but if the first fight wasn’t considered to be a commercial success for such an important bout between the two best 175-pound boxers, the immediate rematch was even worse.

The June 17th HBO pay-per-view card reportedly drew just 130,000 buys, with Yahoo’s Kevin Iole recently writing that it did an estimated 125,000 buys. Ward vs. Kovalev I pulled in 165,000 buys back in November 2016. While promotional responsibilities fell on Kovalev’s promoter Main Events in the first meeting, Ward’s promoter Roc Nation Sports had control of the rematch. There was plenty of pre-fight criticism for Roc Nation over their perceived poor promotion of this fight, although it’s not as if Main Events was that great when they had their chance.

What’s more troubling is that not only were PPV buys down, the attendance numbers and gate revenue at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas was not even close to matching the first bout, which was held at T-Mobile Arena.

Ward received a payout of $6.5 million (not including PPV points), up from the $5 million in the first meeting. The real loser here is Sergey Kovalev, whose salary was tied to getting a cut of the gate revenue and the PPV buys. He had $2 million + PPV points for the first fight, but this deal is uh ... not good for him. Kovalev’s side had alleged pre-fight that Ward “intentionally has done less to promote the event because he dislikes Kovalev and knows he can affect his bottom line.” Whatever the case, that’s an utterly terrible deal Kovalev and company agreed to.

Boxing is dead. The next boxing pay-per-view is Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor on August 26th, and that will be Showtime’s first PPV card since Mayweather’s win over Andre Berto in September 2015.