This past Saturday saw "Sugar" Shane Mosley give a lackluster effort against top pound-for-pound boxer Manny Pacquiao in their Showtime pay-per-view main event. But there is no denying the force that Pacquiao is at the box office and the early indicators of PPV buys bear that out. From the New York Times:
Bob Arum, the chairman of Top Rank boxing, said he believed the pay-per-view buys from Manny Pacquiao's defense of his welterweight title fight against Shane Mosley last Saturday would match or exceed the roughly 1.2 million buys for Pacquiao's previous fight, against Antonio Margarito.
This is significant because the fight, distributed by Showtime Pay-Per-View, was promoted heavily by CBS, in what Arum viewed as the first step toward returning boxing to terrestrial television. A number around 1.4 million to 1.5 million, Arum said, would highlight the effect of the promotion on the buy rate. Arum said he expected to know the exact number by the end of the week.
A note before we proceed: Boxing promoters always reach high on early estimates, so absolutely do not expect 1.4 or 1.5 million. 1.1-1.2 is likely closer to the final number.
The real question is whether or not a third straight rather ho-hum Pacquiao decision over an opponent who either had little to offer or offered little once the bell rang has turned off the sort of fans that push these shows to the one million-plus mark. That's not the diehard boxing audience that pushes these shows over the top.
This is basically the expected number. Less than 1 million buys would have been a failure. Getting to 1.1 or above was probably the goal and it looks like they'll meet that number.
Top Rank and Showtime took a page out of the UFC's playbook by streaming the weigh-ins online and on Showtime Extreme as well as broadcasting some of the undercard fights in a nice 90 minute Showtime Extreme pre-show. It's doubtful that this led to much of a boost in business really, but it showed a marked change in direction from just showing a rerun of one of their Fight Camp shows in the hour leading to the fight and hoping for the best.
For much more on this fight and the rest of the action from the boxing world go read Bad Left Hook.