Boxing is showing signs of tremendous health in 2009. To the people out there who say “Boxing is dead” or “Nobody under 35 watches boxing anymore” or the myriad of people who think that boxing needs to be “saved”, I say look at the numbers.
Pacquiao-Cotto generated 1.25 million in PPV buys and $70 million in domestic PPV revenue. That is the most for any PPV event this year, exceeding the 1.05 million PPV buys for Floyd Mayweather vs Juan Manuel Marquez.
But when you combine those two events and see that it comes up to 2.30 million PPV buys, well that is just huge. It is the first time in a decade – since Felix Trinidad beat Oscar De La Hoya and Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield fought to a draw – that two PPV fights have generated over 1 million buys in the same year.
Also, it is the first time ever in the history of boxing that back to back PPV events have reached the million buy mark. First. Time. In. History.
Not to mention that the live gate for the event in Vegas was another $8.8 million dollars, making it one of the biggest gates in Vegas history. Which worked out great for the two fighters from a financial standpoint. Pacquiao made approximately $22 million and Cotto made approximately $12 million for the fight. A far cry from what the top fighters earn in many other sports.
When you see that the top boxers in the world can earn that kind of money, it makes you wonder when other fighting sports will adopt a similar structure that allows their fighters to get paid instead of the bulk of the money going to the "owners".
Of course, this sets the stage for the megafight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, which would undoubtedly be the biggest fight in history.
So, is boxing “dead”? The numbers say no, and in fact they suggest that boxing is healthier now than it was 10-15 years ago. As HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg says, the strong interest and sales can be traced to a willingness by promoters to match their best fighters and to the new, younger, fans drawn to the sport by the success of the “24/7” reality shows leading up to the fights.
With Showtime doing the “Super Six” tournament, boxing is moving in the right direction. If you gave up on the sport, now might be the time to give it another shot. If you haven’t been a fan, now might be a time to find a fighter you like and start following their career. Tomorrow on Showtime you have Mikkel Kessler taking on Andre Ward for the Super Middleweight Championship. It is the last fight of the first round of the “Super Six” tournament and it’s free, no PPV fee to pay, just your subscription to Showtime.
And if you are one of those “boxing is dead and nobody watches it anymore” kind of people, check yourself. Boxing is doing just fine, thank you.