Cable Operators

After Slow Start, Boxing Promises Barnburners

7/11/2011 8:01 AM Eastern

After a very sluggish first half, the pay-per-view boxing category is set to explode this fall, with at
least four scheduled marquee pay-per-view boxing cards
that the industry hopes will deliver knockout buys and
revenues.

Two of the four fights will feature arguably the two biggest
draws in the PPV-event category, Manny Pacquiao
and Floyd Mayweather. Pacquiao is scheduled to fight
junior lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez on
Nov. 12 — in their third matchup — while Mayweather
will return to the ring after 16 months to fight World Boxing
Council welterweight champion Victor Ortiz.

In October, HBO plans to distribute a PPV bout pitting
recently-crowned light heavyweight champion Bernard
Hopkins against former champ Chad Dawson, while boxing
promotion company Top Rank will present a Dec. 3
rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito,
according to Top Rank president Todd DuBoef.

Industry executives are welcoming the bustling fall
schedule for a category that’s had just one major event so
far this year, the May 7 Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight, according
to Mark Boccardi, senior vice president of programming
and business development for In Demand .

While Top Rank holds the PPV rights to Pacquiao-Marquez
and Cotto-Margarito, it has not chosen a distribution
partner. DuBoef would not say which companies
are in the running, but sources close to the situation said
Showtime and HBO are competing for the rights.

Executives from the premium networks would not
comment on the matter.

The fight’s distributor will have to bring to the table a
promotional relationship similar to the one Showtime developed
with sister broadcast network CBS for Pacquiao-
Mosley. CBS provided promos for the fight and broadcast
two episodes of Showtime’s preview series Fight Camp
360: Pacquiao-Mosley
. The extra promotion helped generate
more than 1.3 million PPV buys.

“I think the May fight changed the climate for PPV distribution,
and I don’t see us going back to an older model,”
DuBoef said.

HBO Sports senior vice president Mark Taffet would
not speculate on the performance of the Mayweather-Ortiz
bout, but added that Mayweather has been one of the
sport’s biggest draws over the past three years.

September