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Canelo vs Khan preview: Numbers show Canelo Alvarez is boxing's biggest star

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A look at Canelo's PPV buys and ratings says that he is already boxing's #1 star. So what does that mean for Saturday night and Amir Khan?

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When Canelo Alvarez and Amir Khan enter the ring Saturday night, it will be the first boxing PPV in a new era - the post-Mayweather, post-Pacquiao era. Both men have recently retired (though Mayweather is pretty clearly heading towards a comeback, and Pacquiao leaves the door open as well), leaving boxing temporarily lacking a top star.

Enter Saul Canelo Alvarez. The 25 year old Mexican fighter is often refered to as boxing's next big star, or a star in the making. But those titles miss an important fact.

Canelo Alvarez is already boxing's biggest star.

Yes, that includes a caveat that Mayweather will easily reclaim that title should he return (Pacquiao though? I'm not so sure there.), but the numbers for Canelo show the reality. Take a look:

900,000
That's the PPV buys for Canelo vs. Cotto. It's the highest PPV buys for any boxing PPV period in the aftermath of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, and that includes fights from both Mayweather (550,000 vs. Andre Berto) and Pacquiao (approximately 450,000 vs. Timothy Bradley). As a comparison, the Golovkin vs. Lemieux PPV drew 150,000 - maybe less. This 900K number is significantly up from Canelo's two previous non-Mayweather PPVs, which were both 300-350K.

The obvious question is how much of this is due to Miguel Cotto? Well, consider this number: 350,000. That's the buys for the previous Cotto PPV outing (against Sergio Martinez). 350,000 is a good level for a decent boxing PPV draw. Below it is a disapointment, above it means you are a bigger draw than average. Canelo blew that away against Cotto. But to continue the comparsison, here's a new number...

2,146,000
That's the average viewers for Canelo vs. James Kirkland, the last time Canelo fought on HBO. That was HBO's highest rating since Tarver vs. Hopkins way back in 2006. Shortly before Canelo vs. Kirkland, HBO was very pleased with the numbers for Klitschko vs. Jennings, which averaged 1,637,000 - a full 500,000 less than the Canelo fight. No HBO or Showtime fight since has come even close, with big fights like Ward vs. Barrera hovering around the 1,000,000 mark.

As for Cotto - his last HBO outing drew 1,589,000 against Daniel Geale. Before that it was 1,550,000 against Delvin Rodriguez. Good numbers undoubtedly, but not Canelo numbers.

2,200,000
The buys for Mayweather vs. Canelo. Because of the insane success of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, this number sometimes gets forgotten. It shouldn't. That's a massive number, just a bit shy of the previous PPV record for Mayweather vs. De La Hoya (2.4 million). Those are the only 3 boxing PPVs to ever top the 2 million mark - a point neither WWE or the UFC has ever hit. Take a look at the names there: Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Oscar De La Hoya, Canelo Alvarez. Impressive company for the young fighter.

???
This last one is key - and it's yet to be known: the PPV buys this Saturday for Canelo vs. Khan. If Canelo is indeed the big star that all previous numbers indicate him to be, we should see a buyrate significantly above that 350,000 base. Anything close to that has to be a disappointment. How close it gets to 900,000 (and if it beats it) will speak volumes about Canelo. Because while Amir Khan is a decent name, he's not a proven big-money draw in the US. His last US fights pulled in audiences of 762,000 on Showtime (vs. Devon Alexander) and 811,000 on Spike (vs. Chris Algieri). To compare, Spike's biggest PBC show was Adrien Broner vs. Ashley Theophane, which drew 1,013,000. These numbers tell us that Khan is a good draw, significantly above previous Canelo PPV opponents Erislandy Lara and Alfredo Angulo. But he's not a huge draw, and is certainly the B side here.

So is Canelo the sport's #1 name? Evidence certainly points in that direction already, and Saturday night may be the final piece needed to prove what we already know.

Watch Canelo vs. Khan this Saturday night live on PPV, and join us here at Bloody Elbow for live fight night coverage.