Terence Crawford vs. Shawn Porter PPV only available via ESPN+
LAS VEGAS — Terence Crawford’s WBO welterweight title defense against former two-time world titlist Shawn Porter, one of the year’s most anticipated fights, will be delivered to consumers as a pay-per-view, but in a way boxing fans are not used to.
The fight, at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay on Saturday night, will only be available in the United States via ESPN+ PPV for $69.99 and that is in addition to having to subscribe to the ESPN+ streaming service. The four-fight card is not available for purchase the traditional way, which is via cable systems or satellite services.
Despite the relatively limited availability, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum is bullish on the business the fight could do. As he pointed out, it will be delivered the same way as UFC, which, like Top Rank, has an exclusive deal with ESPN, puts on its pay-per-view events.
“One of the real reasons why the fight could be made was ESPN and ESPN+ has a platform now that has 19 million subscribers,” Arum said. “And when ESPN+ has the exclusive pay-per-view- rights and they can publicize it and email constantly their subscribers, they’re doing huge numbers.
“How do I know that? Because while they haven’t had any exclusives in boxing, they have had exclusives for a couple of years now with UFC and the UFC numbers on pay-per-view are huge because of ESPN+, which has it exclusively.”
Arum, as he usually does when hyping a fight, predicted strong numbers for Crawford-Porter, which is already a virtual sellout. He said there were only a few dozen tickets remaining for an arena that seats around 11,500 for boxing.
“By going on ESPN+ exclusively, we will do UFC-kind of pay-per-view numbers, which can be as low as 500,000 and as high as a million-and-a-half,” Arum said. “That’s our goal and I really believe these fighters, both Terence and Porter, are in for a big, big surprise when they see the pay-per-view results.”
If the fight comes close to a 500,000 buys, it would be one of the best boxing pay-per-view performances in recent years. Crawford (37-0, 28 knockouts), one of boxing’s pound-for-pound best fighters, has so far not translated to pay-per-view success in his career. His pay-per-view fights with Viktor Postol and Amir Khan were massive flops but he also did not have a dance partner with whom to translate to commercial success. Postol was unknown and while Khan was well-known, he was way past his prime.
Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs) is a well-known opponent and was a strong B-side in his only previous pay-per-view fight, a split decision loss in a title unification bout with Errol Spence Jr. in a 2019 “Fight of the Year” contender.
Matt Kenny, ESPN’s vice president of programming and acquisitions responsible for combat sports, said the network is pleased to have its first ESPN+ exclusive pay-per-view boxing card since it partnered with Top Rank in mid-2017.
“This one’s gonna be a biggie, as we all know,” Kenny said. “We’re in for a real treat. Creative deal making is sometimes a necessity. But the fact that this fight is gonna happen and this card came together the way that it did speaks to the work Top Rank’s doing and our appreciation for this event to be happening here [on ESPN+].”
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