Already prophetic in his assertion that Saturday’s unanimous decision by Floyd Mayweather Jr. over Canelo Alvarez on Showtime Pay Per View would become the highest-grossing boxing event of all time with nearly $150 million in revenue reported, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer is now predicting totals of “over $200 million.”
“When everything is said and done between the pay per view money, and the gate money which is the live gate record, and the closed circuit record in Las Vegas, and the closed circuit records across the United States, and the bars and the restaurants, which is an all-time record there, an all-time record on merchandising, and all-time record on the foreign television sales, we’re probably going to be looking at a gross number of over $200 million,” said Schaefer of Mayweather-Alvarez, which eclipsed the existing mark of $136 million earned by Mayweather’s 2007 victory over Oscar De La Hoya.
“There are very, very few sports which are able to generate that kind of money in one night. Frankly, the only one that comes to mind is the Super Bowl. Other than that, I don’t know any other event that can generate that kind of money. So all of these people who keep on saying that this is a dying sport, I think they should just give that up, because boxing has shown now, that at the highest-level, it can perform very well.”
Mayweather-Alvarez also passed the record gate with $20,003,150, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, surpassing the $18,419,200 by Mayweather’s split-decision win over De La Hoya.
Also on Thursday, it was announced that Mayweather-Alvarez sold 26,163 closed circuit tickets at $100.00 each at locations in Las Vegas for a total of more than $2.6 million, according to official records provided by NSAC executive director Keith Kizer.
Kizer said that he believes the closed circuit numbers, officially at $2,615,360, with 200 of the tickets being given away, “are the biggest closed circuit numbers for a Nevada fight card.”
In addition, preliminary reports from distributors show pay-per-view buys projected to be 2.2 million. That number would surpass the 1.95 million from Evander Holyfield’s disqualification victory over Mike Tyson in their second meeting in June of 1997.
“Obviously, Showtime and CBS, with the platforms taht they have, they have really embraced the sport of boxing and that’s a big reason as well. What a lot of people felt was impossible became a reality, and I remember back in 2007, when everybody was telling me that the Tyson-Holyfield record will never be broken. You know what? We broke it in 2007 with Mayweather-De La Hoya, and here we are, it’s broken again,” said Schaefer.
“I said back in 2007 that records are here to be broken. This record will be broken again, because the sport of boxing is hot. People want to be part of it. People want to see it, and with Floyd Mayweather, you have the face of boxing. Love him or hate him, he is the most talented and the best ever, and people want to be part of it. They want to be able to say ‘I saw him fight.'”
Having already gone beyond two million, Schaefer estimates that Mayweather-Alvarez is approaching the record mark of 2.5 million set by Mayweather-De La Hoya.
“I think that we are on a really good trajectory with the fights that we’ve been making in terms of the action and the entertainment value,” said Stephen Espinoza, Showtime’s executive vice president and general manager of sports.
“So I think that we can continue to expand the casual fan base. I think that we have a lot of room to grow and to capture even more of the casual fans on a regular basis. The sky is the limit.”
Even in defeat, it was a strong 2013 for Alvarez, who drew a crowd of 38,000 to The Alamodome in San Antonio in April for his unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Austin Trout. More than 22 million Mexican fans in almost 6 million households watched Alvarez try to beat Mayweather on Sept. 14, making it the highest-rated boxing program ever on television in Mexico. Alvarez will likely take in more than $10 million with his upside of the pay-per-view revenue.
Schaefer also pointed to other successes, such as Marcos Maidana’s sixth-round stoppage of Josesito Lopez, which packed a record number of fans into the StubHub Center (formerly the Home Depot Center) for their Showtime-televised fight in June.
“Even at other levels, boxing is doing very well, for example, with the sellout at The Alamodome when Canelo fought there, and a huge gate record at the Home Depot Center when Josesito Lopez fought Marcos Maidana,” said Schaefer.
“There have been record crowds at Barclays Center, and everywhere you look, Fox Sports 1 giving up Monday night’s during prime time for boxing. With new sponsors coming on board, 2013 was maybe the most important year for boxing, and what it did is show how good the sport is doing.”
It all started, however, with Mayweather, whose first-ever appearance on HBO’s rival network was a unanimous decision over Robert Guerrero in May on Showtime Pay Per View as part of an exclusive six-fight, 30-month venture with the cable network and its parent company, CBS Corporation.
The package could be worth $250 million, according to an online report by Forbes’ Magazine, and has contributed to Mayweather’s being the world’s highest-paid athlete in any sport over the past two years.
“I think that Floyd Mayweather has a lot do to with that success, because of what Floyd Mayweather was able to do with his personality and his charisma, his talent and his huge social media following,” said Schaefer.
“He also has a huge celebrity following, and has been able to bring a younger demographic to the sport of boxing. That demographic was responsible for making this fight as big as it turned out to be.”
Mayweather all-but anointed Alvarez as the next in line when he uttered his first words at the post-fight press conference, Schaefer recalls.
“When Floyd Mayweather gave the endorsement to Canelo that he was the future, that was maybe the most meaningful endorsement that any fighter could get — from the pound-for-pound king. Mayweather’s behavior throughout the post-fight press conference may have been the classiest that I have seen from any fighter. A lot of people had not seen that, but when he came up to the stage, he went down and to the left side and went down a few steps,” said Schaefer.
“He actually went to Canelo’s father, who was there, and gave him some really, really nice words of encouragement about how great of a fighter his son is. Then, he went over to Canelo’s mom, who was sitting there on a chair, and gave her a hug and told her how great Canelo is, and that he will be champion in the future and that she had all of these reasons to be proud of him and so on. The words that he gave to Canelo’s mother almost made me cry.”
In the end, with much of the world watching, said Schaefer, it was not only Mayweather, but the sport of boxing which cashed in.
“This is one classy guy, and he can fight, and he has charisma. Yeah, sometimes, he’s a little bit flashy, but he’s Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. I just think that it was an amazing night, and an amazing promotion,” said Schaefer.
“Even other boxing promoters called me and said that this was the best promotion ever. I am just happy now that on Thursday after the fight week, to be able to see that — in Mayweather’s terms — all of the hard work and dedication has paid off, and that we’ve broken the gross record.”
Photo by Chris Trotman, Getty Images
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org