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Canelo Alvarez proves once again that he’s box office

Canelo Alvarez
Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions
Canelo Alvarez’s return to PPV marks a reported return of 800,000 views, writes George Gigney

THERE has been much talk this past week of pay-per-view (PPV) numbers in the US, with tentative figures for Canelo Alvarez’ stoppage win over Caleb Plant on Showtime being reported by numerous outlets.

It’s believed that the card attracted roughly 800,000 PPV buys in the US, which is an impressive figure if true. BoxingScene were the first to report on these numbers, and also claimed that the initial target for the show was 500,000 buys, meaning it smashed all expectations. In Canelo’s native Mexico, the fight was aired for free on TV AZTECA, and the channel later stated that 20 million people tuned in.

The US PPV figures are startling for a few different reasons. Firstly, the Canelo-Plant card was directly up against UFC 268, which was a PPV on ESPN and the company’s biggest card of the year.

This means that, even with direct competition, Canelo can still draw huge numbers. Though the scuffle between Alvarez and Plant at their initial press conference a few weeks ago and the fact it was for all the belts at super-middleweight will have helped sell the fight, it was predominantly Canelo’s name doing the heavy lifting.

These numbers have also come at a time where most believe the PPV model is dying. For the most part, it might well be but outliers like Canelo prove it can still do big business and generate huge sums of revenue.

While the 800,000 mark doesn’t put this event in Canelo’s top five highest-selling PPVs, it is still an undeniable success. It comfortably exceeds the 650,000 buys reportedly generated by the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder trilogy fight last month.

The question now is; what will Canelo do next? This was his first PPV appearance since his second fight with Gennady Golovkin in 2018, which generated 1.1 million buys in the US. In between those two, he fought on the DAZN streaming service.

Alvarez was guaranteed roughly $40m for fighting Plant, but will also get a share of the PPV revenue. This venture with Showtime was clearly a success and the broadcaster – along with every other supplier with a PPV platform – will be desperate to sign the pound-for-pound king to their service.

Though 800,000 buys might not sound impressive when you factor in the total US population, and compare it to other PPV shows Canelo has headlined, in this climate that is a very solid figure, particularly as Plant was not a well-known commodity.

Top Rank boss Bob Arum discussed PPV figures this week when looking ahead to the Terence Crawford-Shawn Porter fight this weekend, which airs on ESPN+ in the US. According to BoxingScene, he said: “The other platforms don’t do particularly well on PPV. We thought, and I’m sure it’s going to work, going on ESPN+ exclusively, we will do UFC kind of PPV numbers.

“[It] can be as low as 500,000 and as high as a million and a half. That’s our goal. I really believe these fighters, Terence and Porter, are in for a big, big surprise when they see the PPV results.”

It would be surprising if this card hit 500,000 buys. Porter, though a very good fighter who has proven he’ll fight anyone, is not a huge draw and his PPV fight with Errol Spence in 2019 generated roughly 300,000 buys.

Crawford – inarguably one of the best fighters on the planet – also struggles to garner attention and it’s hard to envision a scenario wherein this card attracts half a million buys, particularly off the back of a weekend with two combat sports PPVs (Canelo-Plant and UFC 268).

YouTube

FightHype released a potentially reputation-damaging video of Teofimo Lopez ‘interviewing’ Rolando Romero about his aborted fight with Gervonta Davis. Romero is under investigation for several allegations of sexual assault and so was replaced by Isaac Cruz as Davis’ next opponent.

With a smirk on his face and using a water bottle as a mock microphone, Lopez asks Romero “You can tell yourself ‘no comment’, but do you believe your fight with Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis was sabotaged?” implying that the allegations were made up just to scupper Romero’s career.

The point here isn’t whether or not Romero should have been pulled as Davis’ opponent, as some have focused on. Instead, it’s the fact that he and Lopez are making light of what are extremely serious accusations.

They have not yet proven to be true or false by the relevant authorities, but sexual assault is never a laughing matter. Lopez is one of the leading stars at Top Rank, arguably the biggest promotion company in the world, and should be setting a better example.

It speaks volumes of his character that he finds these allegations humorous, and surely not his place to imply they’re maliciously falsified. It’s also worrying that the Top Rank PR machine wasn’t able to get a handle on this beforehand, knowing that Lopez is friends with Romero.

In a sit down with BT Sport, Fury’s father John claimed that Tyson was quite seriously injured prior to the third Wilder fight, stating that his son needed injections in both his elbows before the bout to numb the pain, and then underwent a six-hour operation after the fight.

If that’s the case, it makes Fury’s victory all the more impressive. It would also go some way to further explaining why he struggled more with Wilder in the third fight after steamrolling him in their second meeting.

Dropped twice, Fury had to dig incredibly deep to finish Wilder and most agreed this was partly down to hampered preparations due to his contracting Covid-19, and complications from the birth of his daughter a few weeks prior to the fight.

Whatever the case, let’s hope any lingering health issues have been rectified; the heavyweight landscape is all the more exciting with Fury in it.

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