The interim fights were complete. The news conference was scheduled. Ticket information was released.
The highly anticipated light heavyweight matchup between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward was finally complete — for all of three days.
Promoters for both fighters, along with HBO, announced last Saturday that Kovalev and Ward would meet Nov. 19. The venue was expected to be T-Mobile Arena.
But that was put on hold Tuesday after a messy news conference, and it appeared the fight was off.
Main Events promoter Kathy Duva, who represents Kovalev, wasn’t confident the fight would happen, and wasn’t sure what Roc Nation Sports, Ward’s promoter, was angling toward by putting the brakes on the fight.
After a few days of negotiations, Duva said both sides are back on the same page and she is optimistic about tickets going on sale next week.
“It’s getting better,” Duva said. “We have a contract with the MGM to fight at T-Mobile Arena. Both sides are expected to sign.”
The wheels fell off minutes before Tuesday’s news conference to announce venue and ticket details in Los Angeles. First, Ward was originally scheduled to be in Los Angeles, but only Kovalev attended. Then, Duva got a call from Roc Nation, and that’s when the event soured.
A flustered Duva eventually started the news conference after a 90-minute delay. Rumors began flying that Roc Nation didn’t want the fight in Las Vegas. There have been reports that Roc Nation preferred Madison Square Garden in New York City. Duva speculated that Ward wanted the fight in his hometown of Oakland, California.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the news release regarding ticket information was sent out before the fiasco at the news conference began.
Tickets were scheduled to go on sale Friday, and Kovalev was expected to meet fans purchasing tickets at the T-Mobile Arena box office. That was canceled.
Duva said Roc Nation never asked for a change in venue. Roc Nation wanted the contracts to be signed before moving on to ticket sales, according to Duva.
“It’s customary to have tickets go on sale first, then a deal gets worked out,” Duva said. “But they wanted the contracts signed first.”
Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett said he hasn’t been approached by Main Events or Roc Nation about leaving T-Mobile Arena. The two sides made an oral agreement with the new Las Vegas arena in June.
Duva doesn’t have a set date when ticket sales will start, but she’s highly confident the fight is staying in Las Vegas.
“Sergey wants to fight in Las Vegas,” Duva said. “We’ll be in Las Vegas. I’m not worried about that.”
The fight isn’t set, but odds on the Kovalev-Ward fight have been posted. Station Casinos has Ward as a slight favorite at minus-140, with Kovalev at plus-120.
“Speed versus power. Boxer versus puncher,” said Chuck Esposito, the Sunset Station sports book director. “This is the best boxing matchup today.”
HBO PASSES ON PACQUIAO
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said HBO won’t televise Manny Pacquiao’s comeback fight against Jessie Vargas on Nov. 5 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
HBO didn’t want to do two pay-per-view events in the same month, deciding to go with the Kovalev-Ward matchup.
Pacquiao is now a free agent and can go to a different network. Arum said details on how the fight will be aired will be released at a news conference Sept. 8 in Los Angeles. He said a streaming service is a possibility.
“It won’t be the same old, same old,” Arum said. “Some of the ideas we embarked on are very exciting.”
Las Vegas native Ishe Smith returns to the ring to fight Frank Galarza on Sept. 16 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Smith, 38, is a former junior middleweight champion.
Contact Gilbert Manzano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0492. Follow him on Twitter: @gmanzano24