Making Pay-Per-View's Day in May4/25/2009 2:00 AM Eastern
Another Cinco De Mayo weekend is fast approaching, which means HBO is gearing up for a big pay-per-view fight.
This May is no different: The network will pit boxing's latest rising star, Manny Pacquiao, against tough Ricky Hatton in a May 2 fight — HBO PPV's first major boxing match of 2009. The fight is sure to draw a significant number of hard-core boxing fans starving for a reason to throw a big fight party.
Yet this weekend's festivities will feel different to many boxing fans than previous fights held during the first week of May. That's because for the first time since its seems forever, Oscar De La Hoya is not fighting on Cinco De Mayo weekend.
Actually, the Golden Boy has fought just four of his 19 PPV fights in May — and last year he fought The Contender reality series finalist Steve Forbes on pay TV via HBO. Still, just as most people welcome the bloom of May flowers, operators have recently greeted the May march of De La Hoya to the PPV ring with excitement.
In 2006, Oscar returned to the ring after losing to longtime middleweight champion — and now De La Hoya business partner — Bernard Hopkins to fight rugged Ricardo Mayorga. De La Hoya's pounding of Mayorga was great for operators, who shared in the $47 million in PPV revenue the fight generated — one of the top performing events of that year.
And no one associated with boxing or the pay-per-view cable industry could ever forget De La Hoya's May 2007 tussle with then pound-for-pound champion Floyd Mayweather, especially since it took place during the industry's annual Cable Show conference.
That fight turned into the biggest PPV event of all time, drawing 2.4 million buys and $134 million in revenue.
Two weeks ago, De La Hoya announced his retirement from the sport, which left major shoes to fill with regard to PPV boxing performances.
The industry is hoping that Pacquiao is the heir apparent to the Golden Boy's throne.
The exciting junior welterweight has excited fans and cable operators over his career, punctuated with his technical knockout of De La Hoya last December.
That fight drew some 1.25 million buys, the biggest take for a PPV fight since De La Hoya-Mayweather.
HBO is hoping that Pacquiao and Hatton — no PPV slouch himself, having drawn 800,000 buys in his November 2007 fight against Mayweather — will reignite the PPV boxing category and approach prior May De La Hoya performances.
That would certainly give operators more to look forward to in years to come — and not only in May.