In a world where Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather are presumably retired, Canelo Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) is the one who assumes the role as boxing's #1 star. The 25-year-old Mexican sensation defended his WBC middleweight title against Amir Khan, sensationally knocking out the Brit in the 6th round. With the expected win under his belt, all eyes are on whether or not Canelo's next fight will be against Gennady Golovkin, in what would clearly be the best and biggest possible fight to make in the sport.
The estimated PPV buys are in, and it looks like Canelo disappointed at the box office. Lance Pugmire of the LA Times and ESPN's Dan Rafael had both initially reported that the event did "just shy" of 600,000 buys, which would be a decent number for what earnestly wasn't a major bout. Apparently, "just shy" of 600,000 is actually almost 25% below that number. Yahoo's Kevin Iole reported that the PPV actually pulled in about 460,000 buys.
This stands to date as the 3rd biggest-selling PPV of Canelo's career, with only bouts vs. Miguel Cotto (900,000 buys) and Floyd Mayweather (2.1 million) bettering that number. He's only had 5 pay-per-view main events in total, while this was Khan's first one in the US.
There are a couple of things worth noting here:
1.) HBO has apparently left the PPV number releasing to the promoters. Let BoxingScene's Steve Kim tell you the tale.
So HBO tells me that they will not be releasing PPV numbers for Canelo-Khan.... #boxing— Steve Kim (@steveucnlive) May 11, 2016
The explanation I got from HBO Sports is that they will put the announcing of PPV figures on the promoter in 2016... #boxing— Steve Kim (@steveucnlive) May 11, 2016
HBO is part of Time-Warner, which is a publicly-traded company, so they have to file their quarterly financial statements, including PPV info. By putting it on the onus of the promoters, it's up to them to put out a number, whether it's true or not. Former HBO Sports VP Mark Taffet personally verified the Cotto vs. Canelo PPV buys, but he resigned at the end of last year. With him gone, it's back to not releasing the figures themselves.
2.) It might have done even less than 350,000 buys?
Rick Glaser is a longtime boxing matchmaker and has been deeply involved with the sport for 30+ years. He posted this info on his Facebook page last night.
You can believe him over Iole at your own discretion, but it's just for your own information. We have 332,000, 460,000, and just under 600,000 all in play here, but Iole actually posted the TV distribution breakdown, so I think 460,000 is deservedly atop the leaderboard for accuracy.
Is this PPV a success? If you go by Oscar De La Hoya's bold claim that Canelo vs. Khan would do a million buys, then the answer is definitely a no. That said, this fight was asked for by virtually nobody, and it outdrew Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley 3. It may have also outdrawn Floyd Mayweather vs. Andre Berto, which did anywhere from 400,000 buys to 550,000, with the latter considered a generous estimate.
This tells us that Canelo is boxing's top draw, but he is not a big enough star where he can just be a guaranteed 750,000+ buy fighter against any opponent. The fight that boxing fans want to see is Canelo vs. Gennady Golovkin, whose PPV debut was only 150,000, but is otherwise a TV ratings hit on HBO and regularly sells out arenas on both coasts. For the time being, Canelo won't be able to generate huge numbers unless he's in matchups that have some level of appeal. Mayweather does, Cotto does, Khan does not.
As for actually setting up Canelo vs. Golovkin in the fall of 2016? They have from now until May 24th to agree to terms, or else the fight will go to a purse bid, which means that the highest bidding promotion will stage the fight. As an example, next week's Deontay Wilder vs. Alexander Povetkin bout went to a purse bid, with World of Boxing (Povetkin's promoter) winning the bid at $7.1 million. Per
new WBC rules, 10% of the winning amount goes to the winner of the fight, while the remaining 90% is split 70-30 in favor of the defending champion WBC rules, champion (Canelo) vs. interim champion (Golovkin) would mean a 55-45 split of the money in Canelo's favor.
We'll have much more coverage on the potential for Canelo vs. Golovkin to happen over the next week, but for more daily boxing coverage,check out Bad Left Hook.
UPDATE: What is official, however, is sold tickets and gate revenue. BoxingScene's Jake Donovan reports a $7,417,350 gate with a paid attendance of 13,072. That's the 34th largest boxing gate in Nevada history, coming in just below Felix Trinidad's 2000 classic with Fernando Vargas ($7,486,400). Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 2 is the top live gate in Nevada this year at $8.1 million. All things considered, the gate totals aren't bad given public interest in the fight.