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Boxing / Ratings

Ward-Kovalev Earns 160K PPV Buys

When Andre Ward took on Sergei Kovalev, boxing fans saw two of the pound-for-pound best put their world titles on the line.  It was the classic matchup between a power puncher and a boxing technician.  Andre Ward won a narrow, unanimous decision.  The only notable PPV program that had fewer PPV buys than Ward-Kovalev was Crawford-Postol, which earned in the 50k-60k range.

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Report: Premier Boxing Champions Might Be Low On Money

Dan Rafael of ESPN did an investigation into the current state of the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).  After an analysis of the decreasing purse amounts for fighters and the fewer television events that the PBC has put on, Rafael has concluded that the PBC might be low on money.

Last fall there were many fights during a week and the fancy elements of showmanship, such as the stages, have since been missing from production.  Rafael also states that the quality of the fights have been decreasing.  The PBC only has two programs set to air on cable the rest of the year.  Both programs will air on Spike.  With the lower-level fights and drops in payment there are fewer top fighters performing.

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British Boxing Success Due To Elite Amateur System And Local Stars

Some of the best fighters in the world hail from Britain.  Tyson Fury is currently the heavyweight champion of the world and one of boxing’s up and coming stars, Anthony Joshua, is also from Britain.  There are two factors that are largely considered to be the most vital in producing star fighters.  First, fighters like Ricky Hatton created a surge in popularity and the fighters who were inspired by Hatton have now reached an elite level.  Second, the amateur system is well-funded with many excellent trainers.

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Boxing / Finance

Top Rank Self-Distributing Pacquiao-Vargas on PPV

HBO, the historical provider of Manny Pacquiao’s PPV events, has declined to distribute Pacquiao-Vargas.

According to Dan Rafeal at ESPN, HBO didn’t want to be involved, “…because it did not want to have two pay-per-view events in the same billing cycle and it is already committed to the Nov. 19 HBO PPV fight between unified light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward.”

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Boxing / Finance / Regulations / Sports Law / UFC

Transparency Leads To Higher Fighter Pay

John S. Nash at Bloody Elbow did a great write-up titled “Why do boxers make more than MMA fighters?”  The very thorough article interviews multiple managers, fighters, and business figures in the combat sport landscape.

Fights like Mayweather-Pacquiao, where both fighters made a few hundred million dollars, can skew the data.  MMA fighters have a much higher floor pricing, with many UFC prelim fighters making $10,000 compared to boxers who sometimes only make $1,500.  The median payout for boxing and MMA fighters still favored boxers:

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Boxing / Ratings

Errol Spence Jr.’s PBC Network Ratings Soar To New Record

Errol Spence Jr.’s fight against Leonard Bundu set a new ratings record for Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).  According Nielsen Media Research there was an average of 4.8 million viewers over the course of the single hour of programming.  Viewership for the fight peaked at 6.34 million viewers making it the highest-rated fight in PBC history.

The PBC, led by Al Haymon, has prepared for a long-term investment in the sport.  They have a four-year plan that they are in the second year of.  That plan includes buying their own time spots on television, meaning that Al Haymon and the PBC specifically chose to follow the gold medal basketball game in the Rio Olympics on network television.

Promoter Lou DiBella said:

“Six million watching a fight is great for boxing… Millions of people were watching the basketball game and saw the electric crowd, and then when the game was over, they were taken to the fight in Coney Island to another electric crowd, and they stayed with it, and they saw a great performance from Spence. That’s a great sign for boxing. For a young superstar in the making like Spence, that’s great for him also. It’s great for the whole sport.”

Spence is a former Olympian and undefeated welterweight with a record of 21-0, eighteen by coming of way by knockout.  Bundu had never been knocked down before and he was eventually knocked out in the sixth-round.  The victory makes Errol Spence Jr. the IBF mandatory challenger for current champion Kell Brook.  Kell Brook’s next fight is against Gennady Golovkin and there are some speculations that Brook will not return to welterweight after the Golovkin fight.

Ringside Analysis:

Buying television time after the Rio Olympic gold medal basketball game turned out to be a very smart decision.  There is a risk present when following any huge tentpole program of paying a lot of money for a spot that most people will turn away from.  However, the investment paid off big in this case.

The Olympics bring out a part of the United States that may not watch sports regularly and were only watching because it was the Olympics and Team USA was playing.  The ratings show that a lot of viewers, both sports fans and some non-sports fans, stayed on the channel for the PBC program that was only scheduled to last an hour.

Haymon’s long-term strategy might be paying off now, especially with a fighter like Errol Spence Jr. who has developed a brand on network and free television.  We will have to watch to see whether the ratings are a sign that the winds are changing or if these ratings are just an Olympic bump.

Athlete Branding / Boxing

Shakur Stevenson Is On The Verge Of Stardom

Shakur Stevenson is the only American boxer left with the potential to win a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.  If Stevenson wins the gold medal he will be the first American fighter since Andre Ward in 2004 to receive the highest prize in amateur boxing.  The young fighter is already getting comparisons to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and is featured in a Powerade commercial.  With the athletic success and commercial value that has already been established Shakur Stevenson is on the verge of stardom.

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