Unified light heavyweight world titleholder Andre Ward, the pound-for-pound king, and former unified titlist Sergey Kovalev are among the best fighters in the world, but that has not translated into commercial success.
Ward’s eighth-round knockout of Kovalev in their rematch on June 17 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas generated a live gate of $2,187,340, according to figures released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Wednesday, far less than the first fight generated seven months earlier.
The revenue from last month’s bout came from the sale of 6,366 tickets, even though Roc Nation Sports announced a crowd of 10,592 on fight night. There were 2,113 complimentary tickets given out from a total of 10,748 available, according to the commission.
When Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) won a controversial unanimous decision — 114-113 on all three scorecards — and three title belts from Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) on Nov. 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, that fight generated a live gate of $3,341,980 from the sale of 10,066 tickets (with 1,636 complimentary tickets given away and 2,525 unsold tickets).
Both fights did poorly on HBO PPV, as well, with the first fight selling only about 165,000 units, and the rematch, according to industry sources, selling perhaps only as many as 135,000.
When HBO replayed the rematch a week later, it averaged 752,000 viewers and peaked at 947,000, according to Nielsen Media Research.
When HBO replayed the first fight a week after it took place, the bout averaged 834,000 viewers, though it was on a telecast that also included the live Vasyl Lomachenko-Nicholas Walters junior lightweight world title bout.