Just as it seemed event handlers learned their lesson from the first fight, ticket prices for the June 17 rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev leave the buying public bewildered over the thought process into building this event.
A three-city press tour revealed - among other things - that the forthcoming HBO Pay-Per-View headliner will come at a suggested retail purchase (SRP) rate of $54.95, plus additional fees to view in High-Definition (HD). It's not only cheaper than the price tag that came with the first fight, but also the cheapest high-profile PPV event offered since Terence Crawford's 12-round whitewash of Viktor Postol last summer, a positive sign that the sport is figuring out that the buying public is tired of being bled dry.
Then came Friday's announcement from lead promoter Roc Nation Sports revealing that tickets are officially on sale for the June 17 event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Prices range from $105 all the way up to $1255, plus applicable service charges. The low end is nearly double the price of the cheapest ticket ($55) from the first fight, while the most expensive seats will cost $200 more than those who paid full price for $1005 front row seats last November.
Additional seats in between those prices will run $755, $505, $355 and $255, and are available through axs.com as well as the Mandalay Bay box office.
The upcoming light heavyweight clash is a rematch to their competitive first meet, which featured sustained action for 12 rounds followed by a highly questionable unanimous decision in favor of Ward (31-0, 15KOs) who prevailed by identical scores of 114-113 on all three cards last November at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Most viewers and media members believed that Kovalev (30-1-1, 26KOs) - who floored Ward in round two - won with room to spare, but was instead dealt his first loss and the end of his unified light heavyweight title reign.
Commercially, the event was a bit of a bust, selling just 165,000 PPV units while producing a live gate of $3.3 million from 10,066 tickets sold according to Nevada State Athletic Commission records.
The final amounts were enough to satisfy the financial commitment for Kovalev's side which includes promoter Main Events. As for Roc Nation - whose client Ward boasted a much higher demand - the event remained yet another learning lesson that their team continues to ignore when it comes to moving on to the next show.
Ward - a former World super middleweight champion - will attempt the first defense of his light heavyweight titles. The win was preceded by three non-title fights for the unbeaten fighting pride of the California Bay Area, who is also the last American male boxer to capture Olympic Gold which he achieved in the 2004 Athens Games.
Kovalev enters the fight as an unbelted challenger for the first time since his ringwalk prior to his destruction of Nathan Cleverly inside of four rounds in their Aug. '13 HBO-televised battle on the road in Cardiff, Wales. The Russian knockout artist managed eight successful defenses of at least one belt - including a 12-round shutout of Bernard Hopkins to unify three titles in Nov. '14 - before managing to blow a first-half lead versus Ward, who - regardless of anyone's debate over the bout - offered a strong enough second-half surge to put it in the hands of the three judges.
Their first clash was preceded by two "tune-up" bouts for each boxer, as per a contractual agreement that also carried an immediate rematch clause. The bouts did little to generate interest for the PPV event, as both boxers - while recognized as among the very best in the world (and in fact #1 and #2 on FightNights.com Top 10 Pound-for-Pound list) - have yet to translate their ring attributes into star power.
It doesn't figure to change for the better leading into the rematch in June, although credit is given for their cutting straight to the chase rather than attempting to further marinate.
Time will tell if the public will respond and meet event handlers' lofty expectations this go-round.