Juan Manuel Marquez’s sensational sixth-round knockout of Manny Pacquiao during their Dec. 8 payper- view fight sent shockwaves through the sport and shook up the pay-per-view boxing landscape for 2013.
Fight distributor HBO would not reveal specific buyrate numbers for the welterweight fight at press time, but industry observers have predicted it will approach the reported 1.25 million buys generated by the third Marquez-Pacquiao fight last November. Sources said HBO is pleased with early returns, but would not give specific numbers.
The fight’s performance could give Pacquiao his second 1 millionbuy fight in a little over a year. A third match involving the Filipino fighter, his June 9 bout with Timothy Bradley Jr., drew about 900,000 buys.
But Pacquiao’s sensational loss by knockout, after he had scored two wins and a draw in the three prior encounters with Marquez, coupled with his controversial loss by decision to Bradley in June, led industry observers to say Pacquiao has lost a bit of his in-ring aura and some of his PPV box-office appeal.
That could deliver a major body blow to a PPV boxing category reliant on Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. for the majority of its PPV revenue over the past three years. Mayweather, who has drawn 1 million buys in his last four fights, has said he’ll look to fight in May and September of 2013, although opponents have yet to be named.
After back-to-back losses, Pacquiao might need to take a tune-up fight on HBO or Showtime before returning to the PPV arena.
Not everyone is so down on Pacquiao. Mark Boccardi, senior vice president of programming and business development at PPV event aggregator In Demand, believes he still has PPV drawing power and could face Marquez in a lucrative fifth fight sometime in 2013. “I think it would be a huge fight for the industry,” he said.
Other marquee fights the PPV industry might see in 2013 include a rematch between super middleweights Sergio Martinez and Julio Chavez Jr.
Beyond that, the pickings are slim. Miguel Cotto’s Dec. 1 loss to Austin Trout on Showtime sabotaged a potentially strong May 2013 PPV bout against rising welterweight champion Canelo Alvarez.
Pacquiao’s knockout loss also eliminated any chance of a record-setting Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. Boxing fans have been clamoring for that fight for years, but the two camps were unable to come to terms.