Ticket sales are lacking. And pay-per-view buys aren’t expected to reach any record levels.
So, in a rare meeting of two unbeaten fighters who occupy spots on boxing’s top-five pound-for-pound list, the pressure to produce and perform falls on light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev of Russia and Oakland’s Andre Ward in their title fight Saturday night.
Both Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 knockouts) and former Olympic and super-middleweight world champion Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) are making their debuts as pay-per-view headliners, and their division isn’t exactly stacked with talent.
Great fight. The crowd was on its feet at the bell. Both fighters looked exhausted for most of the round. Kovalev was warned for a low blow with about 40 seconds to go. About 10 seconds later, Kovalev landed a quick 1-2 upstairs.
Ward retaliated by grazing Kovalev with a sweeping hook upstairs. Another very close round.
L.A. Times card: 10-9, Ward (114-113, Ward)
Ward gets the nod in the 12th, and I have Kovalev up 115-112 at end, but this is anyone's fight. Some close rounds.
This has become some fight. Ward landed a big left hook early in the round. Kovalev landed a strong jab. A few seconds later, he pounded Ward upstairs with a straight right. A huge left by Ward turned Kovalev’s head. Ward in retreat, waves in Kovalev. Close round.
L.A. Times Card: 10-9, Kovalev (104-104 even)
Ward weathers improved Kovalev pressure and out-boxed him at end, 106-102 Kovalev. Some here have it far closer.
A close round. Kovalev tried to land a huge overhand right in the closing seconds of the round, but missed. Ward landed a big left hook about a minute into the round. Ward landed a couple of big hooks to the body. Kovalev with a jab and hook.
With 10 seconds left, Ward landed another sweeping blow to the body. It will be interesting to see how the judges are scoring this.
L.A. Times card: 10-9, Ward (96-95, Ward)
Best round of the fight, and Ward gets it. 97-92 Kovalev.
This fight has completely turned around. With about 50 seconds remaining in the round, Ward landed a right-hand lead. Late in the round, Ward landed a punch to the back of Kovalev’s head that sent Kovalev into the ropes.
Ward is starting to land some hard punches.
L.A. Times card: 10-9, Ward (85-85 even)
Andre's best round. He punched Kovalev's head, and it backed the champ under the top rope. 88-82 Kovalev.