TVKO's March 13 Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis
heavyweight-unification fight could draw upward of 1 million buys -- or 2 million, if you
listen to flamboyant promoter Don King.
After nearly one year of negotiations, International Boxing
Federation and World Boxing Association champion Holyfield and World Boxing Council champ
Lewis will fight each other in the first heavyweight-unification fight on PPV since
Holyfield met Riddick Bowe in 1992.
King, Holyfield's promoter, said at a Los Angeles
press conference that the event could break the record of 1.9 million buys generated by
the June 1997 Holyfield-Mike Tyson fight, the most successful event in PPV history.
While Mark Taffet, senior vice president of programming for
TVKO, would not estimate how many buys the fight could generate, he did say that it could
easily match the performance of other successful PPV heavyweight fights.
"This is the first undisputed-heavyweight-championship
fight in years, so we believe that it should perform much like other mega-heavyweight
fights have in the past," he said.
TVKO has yet to set a suggested retail price for the fight,
nor has it finalized a rate card for the event. Taffet wouldn't reveal how many buys
TVKO needs to generate to make the event profitable, but he did say that it is prepared to
work with cable operators to maximize the event's performance.
"We're not interested so much in [rate-card]
buyouts and guarantees as we are in generating the buy-rates that we need to get to where
this will work for all parties," he said. "We fully expect the industry to
support the event appropriately."
Holyfield-Lewis is the second TVKO fight scheduled during
the first quarter of 1999. The network will also distribute a Feb. 13 Oscar De La Hoya-Ike
Quartey bout from Las Vegas.