The Sept. 29 Felix Trinidad-Bernard Hopkins fight was an auspicious opening act for Home Box Office Sports' renamed pay-per-view arm, HBO PPV.
But even though the fight generated a surprising 475,000 buys — especially considering the fight was delayed for two weeks because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — Hopkins's surprising 12th-round knockout of Trinidad wrecked HBO's plans for a potential Trinidad-Roy Jones Jr. PPV event.
Instead, HBO PPV, formerly known as TVKO, is pursuing several PPV events in the lighter weight classes for 2002, HBO senior vice president of sports operations Mark Taffet said.
The 475,000 buys for Trinidad-Hopkins represent the highest figure this year for a pay-per-view bout, besting the 400,000 generated by the June 23 Oscar De La Hoya-Javier Castillejo junior middleweight championship fight. Direct-broadcast satellite providers DirecTV Inc. and Dish Network accounted for about 35 percent of Trinidad-Hopkins buys, Taffet said.
The results for the fight, held at New York's Madison Square Garden, were outstanding, considering HBO had only two weeks to promote the fight's rescheduled Sept. 29 date, he said.
"Given the issues facing the event, 475,000 buys is a magnificent performance at a time when New York needed it the most," said Taffet.
In Demand senior vice president of programming and development Dan York agreed. "We expected a great event in and out of the ring, and we were pleased with the PPV performance as well as the quality of the event," he said.
The event marked the relaunch of the 10-year-old TVKO network as HBO PPV. Taffet said HBO Sports decided to change the name to better reflect the support the premium service provides to the PPV industry through the development of quality fights and other events.
HBO PPV has scheduled a Nov. 17 Hasim Rohman-Lennox Lewis heavyweight bout, but Trinidad's loss derailed plans for an early 2002 PPV event between Trinidad and light heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr.
Taffet said Hopkins — the undisputed middleweight champion — has helped create opportunities for strong PPV fights involving several attractive non-heavyweight fighters. Possible pairings could include Oscar De La Hoya or welterweight champion Shane Mosley.