Last Saturday’s Showtime Pay Per View-televised fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Robert Guerrero is “definitely going to exceed a million pay per view buys,” according to Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime sports.
Mayweather, 36, won by unanimous decision to defend his WBC welterweight belt and become THE RING 147-pound champion. He improved to 44-0 with 26 knockouts before nearly 16,000 fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, ending a 15-bout winning streak that had included nine knockouts for Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KOs).
“We wanted to take our time and wait until we had enough data to speak responsibly about this, so based on what we’ve seen, now we are very comfortable saying that we’re definitely going to exceed a million pay per view buys,” said Espinoza.
“We are very happy with the event from all standpoints, from the financial to the programming, to the exposure that it’s given our network, to the message that it’s given to boxing fans that we’re going to be in boxing at the highest level for a long, long time.”
On Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) Showtime will re-air Mayweather-Guerrero, as well as the 126-pound co-feature and debut of Abner Mares (26-0-1, 14 KOs), who scored knockdowns in the second and final round of a ninth-round stoppage of Daniel Ponce de Leon (44-5, 35 KOs) for the WBC featherweight belt.
“What this pay per view performance also says to us is that Floyd Mayweather is still, without question, the No. 1 pay per view star in boxing, and, actually, in all of sports,” said Espinoza. If the million-plus mark holds, it would be the sixth time a Mayweather fight has surpassed a million pay per view purchases.
“Because for this fight to generate a million buys, without the benefit of a well-known opponent who has been in other huge bouts or other pay per view fights, it’s really a testament to the ongoing popularity and drawing power of Floyd Mayweather.”
In May of 2007, Mayweather’s split-decision victory dethroned current Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya as WBC’s 154-pound titleholder in a bout that holds the all-time record of pay-per-view buys with more than 2.5 million.
Mayweather’s unaimous decision over Miguel Cotto on May 5 of last year generated 1.5 million buys and $94 million in pay per view revenue on HBO Pay Per View.
Mayweather-Cotto ranks as the second highest grossing non-heavyweight pay-per-view event in boxing history, with Mayweather-De La Hoya being listed as No. 1, all-time, at $137 million.
Mayweather’s unanimous decision over Shane Mosley in May of 2010 totaled 1.4 million buys and earned the fighter a career-high $40 million, much of that from a guaranteed purse of $22.5 million.
In September of 2011, Mayweather’s fourth-round stoppage of Victor Ortiz generated 1.25 million buys. He then totaled a million buys for his one-sided unanimous decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in September of 2009.
According to an e-mail from Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Mayweather-Guerrero sold 14,258 tickets and had a gate of more than $9.9 million ($9,922,350). Of those tickets, 1,459 were complimentary and 139 went unsold.
Espinoza did not express disappointment, despite the numbers being lower than those of many of Mayweather’s previous fights on HBO Pay Per View.
“We knew that Robert Guerrero was a credible threat, and he’s proven that he belonged in the top tier of the 147-pound division,” said Espinoza.
“But we also knew that the level of awareness of him in the general public among the casual fans wasn’t as high as some of Floyd’s previous pay per view opponents. So to get to a million buys, which, basically, no one else does, other than Floyd, without the benefit of a well-known opponent, is something that we’re very, very pleased with.”
Espinoza said he is now focused on making a Sept. 14 bout between Mayweather and RING 154-pound champion and WBC beltholder Saul Canelo Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs), a 22-year-old Mexican-born star.
Like Maywweather-Guerrero which happened on Cinco De Mayo weekend, Mayweather-Alvarez would take place on a traditional Mexican holiday weekend — Mexico’s Independence Day — and could draw large numbers of viewers.
“I’ve been in talks with everybody involved. Talks have started. I haven’t encountered any major issues that have arisen now. I’m not aware of any major issues that have come up,” said Espinoza.
“As of this point, it seems that everybody involved, from Floyd to Canelo to Golden Boy and certainly to Showtime, wants Mayweather versus Canelo on Sept. 14. So we’re all going to be working toward that goal, and to get that done as quickly as possible.”
When Mayweather-De La Hoya was made, Espinoza was an acting attorney representing De La Hoya and Golden Boy.
“I think that the thing to keep in mind is that, at the time of De La Hoya-Mayweather, you had two stars with a huge amount of general market awareness, and, really, Oscar was an icon, and Floyd was certainly a huge phenomenon and, really, a compelling personality. As big a star we all believe that Canelo is and will become, he isn’t at the De La Hoya level yet, with respect to the general market,” said Espinoza.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Tom Casino, Showtime
Photo by Chris Cozzone, Fightwireimages.com