Dueling shows in New York
You might have heard already but there are two cards taking place in New York on Saturday night. From the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn (Showtime 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder faces Luis Ortiz. At the Theater at Madison Square Garden (HBO 10:05 p.m. ET/7:05 p.m. PT), a pair of light heavyweight title fights featuring WBO beltholder Sergey Kovalev versus Igor Mikhalkin and WBA titleholder Dmitry Bivol against Sullivan Barrera are on the docket.
Back on Thanksgiving weekend, the head of Main Events Kathy Duva had announced their intention to come back to the small room of MSG on March 3, after Kovalev had dispatched Vyacheslav “Slava” Shabranskyy in two rounds.
Later on, Premier Boxing Champions and Showtime announced Wilder-Ortiz from their familiar haunts. Dueling dates on HBO and Showtime aren’t all that unusual but having cards take place in rival boroughs in New York is. But when asked if this has had any real impact at the box-office, Duva told UCNLive.com, “No, I don’t think it has. You’re calling it the elephant in the room; I don’t really see it quite as large as that. Happily we’re doing way ahead of what we expected, so it doesn’t seem to be much of an impact at all, happy to say.”
The card on November 25, which was smack dab in the middle of an unprecedented run of major boxing cards in the “Big Apple,” struggled mightily in selling tickets but Duva had no hesitation in announcing their next card at this venue.
“I really wasn’t thinking about anything else, I don’t know why anyone else would want to come on this same date,” said Duva, who fortunately is in a much smaller building. The Theater at MSG has a capacity of approximately 4,500 for boxing. “For some reason, they did but we had been discussing this date for weeks before that and they had decided to do it. Obviously before the show, it had been agreed that, if everything went according to plan on that night, that we would be coming back on March 3rd. Those plans have been in place for quite awhile.”
So how are both fights selling?
This question was posed to Jim Boone, of KO Tickets, who stated on Thursday afternoon, “Right now, how it looks is pretty darn good, as far as both shows. There’s always some concern when it comes to doing dueling cards but, in this case, the Barclays and the Garden are so far separated, especially with their clientele base, there isn’t much of an over-run.
“If you compare the last two times these guys were out there – and certainly Kovalev’s fight at the Theater at the end of 2017 was a real disaster – the fact of the matter is they have rolled back prices slightly on P1s,” continued Boone. (“P1s” are the most expensive seats.) “But the biggest driving force. in my opinion. is having the Bivol-Barrera fight on the card and it seems like Bivol’s becoming that guy people really want to see, the hardcore fans. You have a smaller room like that, it doesn’t take that many people to fill the place up.”
On the other hand, Barclays Center has a listed capacity of 19,000.
Boone says, “As far as the Wilder fight, the last one (versus Bermane Stiverne) shouldn’t have been called a rematch but ‘The Mismatch’ and now that (Wilder)’s got a real guy in front of him, I think they’re going to do pretty darn good. Unfortunately, Barclays has such a weird policy, as far as they do their ticket holds, you can’t really see what’s going on. But as of the last 24 hours, I’m starting to get calls for P1s, so there’s some demand there.
“You have two undefeated heavyweights and it’s one of the bigger heavyweight fights we’ve had in a long time. So I think they’re going to do pretty good, especially this weekend. They’re going to sell a lot of tickets.”
However in this instance, Wilder-Ortiz is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, a rare fight between two undefeated heavyweights fighting for one of the game’s most desired crowns (the WBC title). There is that old adage: There are two sets of boxing – boxing and heavyweight boxing.
So set your DVRs this weekend; there’s plenty of boxing.
When asked if they were perhaps counter-programmed by the PBC, Kathy Duva said with a chuckle, “Who knows? They counter-programmed themselves the other night. I don’t know if they do anything on purpose.” Duva is referring to the night of February 17, when a card on FOX ran long and didn’t end till long after a Showtime broadcast (that featured Danny Garcia’s KO of Brandon Rios) had begun.
“The fact there are lots of other arenas in the country and that’s the night Showtime actually had to have a fight, I imagine they could’ve gone elsewhere,” she continued. “But they did what they did and, from what I’m hearing, it’s having a much bigger impact on their gate than it is on ours. They have a much bigger building they have to fill and probably a lot higher expense. So it’s all good; our goal was to put on a fantastic show that people are going to want to come and see and hopefully, over time, our relationship with the Garden is building and getting stronger and hopefully, over time, we keep coming back.”
So it looks like that proposed bout between WBA lightweight titlist Jorge Linares and WBO junior lightweight beltholder Vasyl Lomachenko isn’t dead. In fact, there seems to be new life. It’s being reported (first by ESPN’s Dan Rafael) that there is an effort to have ESPN move around some programming on that date, so this event would not run against HBO’s broadcast that evening featuring the replay of the Gennady Golovkin-Saul Alvarez rematch and live bout that would be staged by Golden Boy Promotions (which handles Linares and has a close relationship with HBO).
“We’re waiting on ESPN’s final confirmation. It’s a suggestion we made,” said GBP President Eric Gomez. “I’m very hopeful that it’s going to get done but ultimately, to finalize the deal, (Top Rank CEO) Bob (Arum) is going to have to get on the phone and call us.”
Mike Baca II, Doug Fischer and I review “SuperFly 2” on the latest installment of “10 Count”:
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Yeah, I wouldn’t feed Pizza Hut to prisoners of war. Mario Lopez and I discuss that and all things boxing on the latest “The 3 Knockdown Rule.”
Mr. Boone can be reached @kotickets on Twitter and his office line is 702-269-3249…I had a chance to interview the great Sugar Ray Leonard on Thursday. Seriously the guy hasn’t aged one bit…Yeah, as I mentioned on “3KR,” Manny Pacquiao and Arum aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on things right about now…Seriously when will I be able to wear my shorts and sandals out there in Los Angeles?…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.