Bellator's PPV debut will not be the only combat sports event on tap for your May 17th evening. Today it was announced that Juan Manuel Marquez will fight Mike Alvarado at a 143 lbs catchweight, which will be televised live on HBO. Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) lost his WBO welterweight title (147 lbs) by split decision to Timothy Bradley in October, and it was just 15 months ago that he demolished Manny Pacquiao with a memorable 6th round KO. Alvarado (34-2) was stopped by Ruslan Provodnikov literally the week after Marquez lost to Bradley. The Denver native is best known for his unbelievable wars with Brandon Rios, of which he was TKO'd in the 1st fight but won the rematch by decision.
It is expected that the Marquez vs. Alvarado winner will face the winner of Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley 2, so there's plenty on the line for both men, and yes, we could be seeing a 5th Pacquiao vs. Marquez showdown, with the official tally 2-1-1 for Manny.
One of the pluses for Bellator holding their PPV, headlined by Alvarez-Chandler 3 and Rampage-King Mo, was that they had no competition from the UFC and wouldn't be subject to some sort of live counterprogram. Unfortunately, Marquez vs. Alvarado being available on HBO definitely hurts them a tad. Alvarado's last two fights, both on HBO, drew an average of 1.2 million viewers (but I thought boxing was dead?!). Marquez has been a PPV regular over the past 4 years, with Pacquiao fights #3 and #4 eclipsing the 1 million mark, and the Bradley fight drew about 375,000 buys. This is Marquez's first fight on the main HBO network since beating Michael Katsidis in a 2010 thriller.
This news of course only affects those who are both boxing and MMA fans, but one of the biggest dilemmas Bellator faces is the array of PPV offerings from both boxing and the UFC both immediately before and after May 17th.
Pacquiao vs. Bradley 2 (April 12th), UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira (April 26th), Mayweather vs. Maidana (May 3rd), UFC 173: Weidman vs. Machida (May 24th), and Cotto vs. Martinez (June 7th).
Those are 5 PPVs within a month of Bellator 120, and it includes two of boxing's biggest PPV draws and the UFC's current biggest box office attraction. Bellator's "competition" extends well beyond just one boxing show on the same night, and if fans of both boxing and MMA are forced to make a choice of which card(s) to skip, Bellator is the obvious odd man out.