Boxing on pay-per-view continues to be the standard fighters follow
Five months into 2023 and boxing has, so far, experienced an exceptionally good year, spiked by the success of the 1.2 million pay-per-view buys for the Tank Davis-Ryan Garcia fight on April 22 in Las Vegas. A million buys is considered today’s gold standard in the pay-per-view world. Davis-Garcia took place before a sellout crowd of 20,842 at the T-Mobile Arena. The gate revenue was $22.8 million. The 1.2 million Davis-Garcia buys translated to $102 million, and a total revenue of $136.8 million when considering merchandise sales, international sales and commercial revenue—and that’s an estimate on the low side. The total promotion generated close to $150 million.
This Saturday, another major fight will be held, when undisputed lightweight world champion Devin Haney (29-0, 15 knockouts) takes on two-time Olympic gold medalist and former two-division titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs) from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on a Top Rank event on ESPN+ PPV and on traditional cable/satellite PPV (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT). The pay-per-view is priced at $59.99.
It bodes well that more major fights will take place in 2023, with another major showdown on the horizon in Errol Spence Jr. facing Terence Crawford taking place possibly July 29 in a fight that fans have wanted to see for years. That will come four days after another major faceoff between WBC/WBO junior featherweight titlist Stephen “Cool Boy” Fulton against Naoya “The Monster” Inoue in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday July 25.
“It shows that pay-per-view is not dead, boxing is not dead, the list goes on,” said Mark Boccardi, 47, who is in his 10th year as senior vice president of marketing and programming and in his 20th year overall for iNDEMAND. “The Davis-Garcia fight is the most recent example that pay-per-view is still alive and doing very well, but even before that, in the sport of boxing, the pay-per-view model has been the gold standard for boxers and promoters.
“Once you’ve gotten to the level as a fighter that you’re on pay-per-view, there’s a sense that you’ve made it in the sport. That goes back to the history of pay-per-view and to all the greatest fights over the last years. So, the goal for fighters and promoters remains to get to pay-per-view. There are certain fighters who do better on pay-per-view than others, though it’s the standard by which you are compared to your peers and compared to other boxers in history. That hasn’t changed. And it’s probably not going to change.
“When you look at all the ways boxing is monetized the pay-per-view platform is still going to be the No. 1 way to generate the most amount of money on one night for one fight.”
Haney will not only be gauged on Saturday night by how well he does in the ring, obviously, but also what his PPV numbers are after the fight. Can he sell? He has been tabbed the future of the sport. He is a sharp-looking 24-year-old for whom the rest of the lightweight division is aiming. Lomachenko, the 35-year-old Ukrainian southpaw, is considered the “B-side,” though possesses a very live chance of beating Haney. Many experts feel he can.
“Look at Davis-Garcia, for example, and the 1.2m buys there, multiplied by $85 and tell me what other combat-sports event generates that kind of money on one night?” Boccardi said. “Where else can you generate that kind of money? And this revenue is only from the broadcast itself. I’m not including ticket sales, merchandize sales, international sales. There are all these other revenue opportunities. They become wildly profitable nights for these boxers.”
Numerous sources revealed the pay-per-view numbers for the Canelo Alvarez-John Ryder fight came in around 250,000, which came in under 200,000 on the DAZN app though boosted by cable, satellite and PPV.com numbers, which puts it close to 250,000.
Still, the numbers of pay-per-view in general are very encouraging.
“The Davis-Garcia fight blew everyone’s expectations away,” Boccardi said. “That fight joins an elite club. It broke over 1 million. What has to be stressed is the pay-per-view platform is here to stay. We have promoters we work with; we have boxers who we have gotten to know, and we have promoters in other combat sports who are committed to pay-per-view. Pay-per-view is in the DNA of boxing. PPV.com started at the end of 2021 and this is our third year in, and in 2023, this has absolutely been our most successful year. We are on a trajectory where each event is doing better than the previous one. There is a lot of talk about Spence-Crawford happening, and we have Jake Paul and Nate Diaz, who are both big stars.
“Canelo is talking about fighting again in September (a possible rematch against Dmitry Bivol), the Spence-Crawford possibility, and we haven’t even mentioned Deontay Wilder or any of the other heavyweights
. We’ll see what happens if Gervonta Davis schedules another fight this year. I do think when we look back on 2023 a few years from now, this is going to be a very strong year for boxing, and an extremely strong year for the pay-per-view platform.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
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