Fight Cards Pack Punch


Hoping to build on the momentum created by the record-breaking May 5 Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather pay-per-view fight, Showtime and Home Box Office are planning a strong fourth-quarter PPV and premium boxing card.

The fall fight PPV card, which includes such top names as Mayweather, Marco Antonio Baraerra, Fernando Vargas, Ricardo Mayorga, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Rickey Hatton, will hopefully show that boxing is still a viable PPV and premium draw in the midst of tough competition from other ring events from combat sports and from World Wrestling Entertainment.

“The quiet atmosphere of the past few years was only a pause for refreshing,” said boxing promoter Don King. “These [upcoming] fights demonstrate that boxing is here to stay. Boxing is alive and kicking. No! Boxing is alive and punching!”

HBO, which drew a record 2.1 million buys for the De La Hoya-Mayweather fight, says its upcoming lineup of four PPV boxing events could break its own PPV network record of 4 million boxing buys in set in 1999, according to HBO senior vice president of sports operations Mark Taffet.

With De La Hoya-Mayweather, as well as several other events in the first half of the year — including the March 17, 2007, Barerra-Juan Manuel Marquez fight and the July 21, 2007, Bernard Hopkins-Ronald “Winky” Wright event — HBO has already surpassed the 3 million buy mark in PPV boxing revenue, Taffet said.

HBO's fall fight card includes the Sept. 15 Marquez-Rocky Juarez, WBC junior lightweight title event; the Oct. 6 Manny Pacquiao-Barrera bout; a Nov. 10 welterweight title fight between Cotto and Mosley; and a Dec. 8 welterweight title fight between champion Mayweather and Hatton.

Showtime will add to the PPV industry's overall boxing take when it jumps back into the pay-per-view ring with its Sept. 8 fight card featuring former champions Vargas and Mayorga, according to Showtime Sports senior vice president and general manager Ken Herschman.

And fight promoter Main Events will distribute former four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield's quest for a fifth title when he faces fights current World Boxing Organization champion Sultan Ibragimov in an Oct. 13 PPV fight.

But not all of fall's big fights will be on pay per view. Showtime's monthly Showtime Championship Boxing franchise will carry two big fights in September: the Sept. 22 return of former heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko to the ring after a two-year layoff to fight Jameel McCline and the Sept. 29 light heavyweight title fight between champion Chad Dawson vs. Adrian Diaconu.

Then on Oct. 6, the network will run the WBC heavyweight title fight between titleholder Oleg Maskaev and challenger Samuel Peter.

For HBO's part, the premium service will air middleweight champion Jermain Taylor's Sept. 29 title defense bout against undefeated challenger Kelly Pavlik; the Oct. 13 lightweight unification fight between Juan Diaz vs. Julio Diaz; and the Nov. 3 super middleweight unification fight between Joe Calzaghe vs. Mikkel Kessler.