After a sluggish start, the pay-per-view boxing category is hoping to have a knockout finish to the year.
Showtime Sports and HBO Sports have confirmed three strong PPV event cards that will run between September and November, including a Sept. 14 Floyd Mayweather-Saul “Canelo” Alvarez megafight that could generate record PPV numbers, industry observers said.
Through the first six months of the year, there has been just one major PPV fight — Showtime’s Mayweather- Robert Guerrero event on May 4 — which drew more than 1 million buys and more than $60 million in PPV revenue. That puts a lot of pressure on the remaining PPV events — Showtime’s Mayweather-Alvarez matchup on Sept. 14, as well as HBO’s Juan Manuel Marquez- Timothy Bradley bout on Oct. 12 and Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios fight on Nov. 23 — to match or surpass the nearly 4 million buys generated by the category in 2012.
Yet industry observers are optimistic that the three fights will draw a significant amount of buys from boxing fans hungry for a big event. Arguably the biggest of the three fights is Mayweather- Alvarez, which pits the category’s pound-for- pound champion in Mayweather against boxing’s most high-profile, up-and-coming fighter in the undefeated Mexican boxer Alvarez.
Mayweather has generated 1 million or more buys in five consecutive PPV boxing events and holds the record for the most buys in the category’s history — 2.5 million for his 2007 fight against Oscar De La Hoya.
Showtime will kick off promotional efforts with a June 24 press conference in New York. Though he wouldn’t predict buys for the fight, In Demand senior vice president of programming and business development Mark Boccardi said Mayweather-Alvarez features the elements that make for a blockbuster PPV boxing event.
“What creates these mega-fights is when you can appeal to different groups — Canelo Alvarez has a strong appeal to Hispanic audiences, while Floyd Mayweather appeals to the urban boxing fan and then also transcends boxing to appeal to non-boxing fans,” Boccardi said. “That’s what gives you the capability to generate a mega PPV fight.”
HBO will distribute its first two PPV boxing matches of the year with the Marquez-Bradley and Pacquiao- Rios fights. The network will begin to promote Marquez-Bradley next week, with press conferences featuring both fighters in Los Angeles and Mexico City. Both boxers gained notoriety in 2012 for beating former PPV boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao, who drew more than 1.1 million PPV buys for his November 2012 knockout loss to Marquez, will look to turn around his boxing fortunes by lacing up the gloves against the tough welterweight contender.
“I think the entire industry is really excited about the prospect for all three of these fights,” said Boccardi. “While it’s coming off a light first half of the year, there’s so much excitement about these three fights that I think the entire cable industry is well prepared to market, promote and then reap the benefits of what we think will be significant PPV business.”
Three upcoming big events could bring a powerful end to what so far has been a slow year for PPV boxing.