Big fight rings up PPV records


NEW YORK -- The megahype surrounding the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Oscar De La Hoya "battle for the ages" delivered for the boxers and HBO, with 2.15 million pay-per-view buys and $120 million in revenue making the bout the top event in PPV history.

HBO Sports said Wednesday that there were 1.2 million buys from cable and 925,000 from satellite homes for Saturday night's fight, which Mayweather won with a split decision. The totals are ahead of the previous PPV records of $106.9 million in revenue (for Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson on June 8, 2002) and 1.99 million PPV buys (for Evander Holyfield-Tyson II on June 28, 1997).

"This puts to rest the claim that boxing is dying or that boxing's in trouble," said HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, whose company along with promoter Golden Boy Promotions put into motion an unprecedented marketing effort for the fight. "This fight never would have materialized if boxing was dying. It's alive and well."

It makes the "Golden Boy" De La Hoya gold in another way, too: He not only cleared an estimated $25 million for the fight, but he also becomes the highest-grossing boxing attraction in PPV history with $612 million in revenue generated from his 18 PPV fights.

HBO Sports isn't resting on its laurels. It has a busy postfight schedule, including a big Jermain Taylor-Cory Spinks bout in two weeks, plus another, albeit lesser, PPV matchup on June 9. And HBO will broadcast the De La Hoya-Mayweather fight, along with interviews with both fighters and more footage from its "De La Hoya-Mayweather 24/7" documentary series, on Saturday night.

"Now we just have to generate more fights like this and put '24/7s' on the air and instill new life into this sport," Greenburg said. "We've got our steppingstonecq now. We have our blueprint in how to create a big event."

But Greenburg, who has been cautious about PPV in lieu of building the sport, isn't sure when the next big event is going to be on PPV. It could be a rematch between De La Hoya and Mayweather, but that could take time.

"When you generate this much revenue, though, all the fighters have to do is look into their bank accounts," Greenburg said.

Kagan analyst Deana Myers said that last week's fight and its strong PPV numbers show that the audience is interested in the big events.

"PPV in the last year really had a good year," Myers said. "Boxing was strong for HBO last year, and the UFC had a good year, and wrestling was pretty decent, too. It has really revived PPV events."

She said she believes the "24/7" series was a smart marketing tool with the right boxers involved who drew the crowds. She's not sure how long it will be before another record PPV fight, however.

"If they do get De La Hoya-Mayweather II, sure," Myers said. "It was a good fight."