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PPV Boxing Patience

7/26/2010 8:31 AM Eastern

The boxing world received some good news, courtesy of promoter Bob Arum last week: Manny Pacquiao will be fighting on Nov. 13. The bad news: it won’t be against Floyd Mayweather.

That’s the bout that everyone who embraces the sweet science, casual boxing fans and those who just enjoy top-flight competition and/or a spectacle wants to see. Maybe, though, it’s not such a bad thing for the pay-per-view business if that much-anticipated match-up materializes in 2011 instead.

After Pacquiao-Mayweather couldn’t reach a deal over drug testing issues early this year, separate fights involving the principals emerged. On March 13, Pacquaio dispatched Joshua Clottey, which generated 700,000 buys, while Mayweather whipped Shane Mosley on May 1, drawing 1.4 million during his dominant performance. Factor in another 200,000-plus for the April 3 Roy Jones-Bernark Hopkins bout and the industry has scored 2.3 million buys to date. That compares with the 3.2 million HBO PPV notched in 2009.

With the Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz card set for July 31 and Pacquiao’s pursuit of an unprecedented eighth crown in a battle with Antonio Margarito for the vacant super welterweight title evidently on the books for Nov. 13 (where is another matter, given Margarito’s licensing issues stemming from his hardened glove issue against Mosley), the industry should draw within shouting distance of 2009’s buy mark. And if the “Pretty Boy” decides to step in the ring in December, last year’s mark falls easily.

Which, of course, could set the stage for what everyone wants to see, presumably sometime in May, one of the PPV industry’s favorite windows. Figure Pacquiao-Margarito and Mayweather’s next bout are the final tune-ups to their mega-fight. You can only risk injury, becoming old in the ring, or the boxing gods forgive, a loss for so long, right? The 2 million-plus buys and the multimillions at stake have to bridge the fighters’ differences at some point, right? As former referee and TV show host Mills Lane used to say: “Let’s get it on.”

Good things come to those who wait: Mayweather-Pacquiao will collide next year, and HBO and cable, satellite and telco distributors stand ready to ring the bell on an even better 2011 with PPV boxing buys and revenue.

September