2016: The year in boxing
January 7, 2017
2016 seemed to be a low-key year in the world of boxing. While 2015 saw some major moves from Al Haymon and his Premier Boxing Champions, the endeavor has fizzled. The same could be said for the year of boxing on PPV as there were no major events that drew PPV buy rates the likes of Mayweather or Pacquiao in their primes.
We saw less of Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions on the multiple channels it was on the year prior. PBC has blown through a lot of capital since it launched in March 2015. A lawsuit filed by Golden Boy, one of two filed by rival organizations, is set to go to trial in March 2017.
Currently, Haymon and the entities sued by Golden Boy have filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the case prior to the trial date. No decision has been made as of this date.
The other antitrust lawsuit against Haymon, filed by Top Rank Boxing was settled by the parties this past spring.
Both of the lawsuits claimed that Haymon’s PBC business model sought to create an illegal tie-in through Haymon’s signing of fighters as their management and then promoting them. They also argued that PBC foreclosed the fighter market and possibly promoting the fighter since fighters under Haymon would allegedly not deal with other promoters. It also tied-out promotions that sought to be on television since Haymon struck exclusive deals with multiple networks.
Chris Algieri fought this past April but expressed concern with how much he would be paid as his promoter did not reveal how much of a percentage he would receive from his fight against Errol Spence, Jr. The situation brought up an issue with the Ali Act.
Speaking of Spence, after defeating Algieri his next fight in August drew an impressive 4.8 million viewers on NBC with a peak of 6.34 million. The PBC on NBC fight aired after the U.S. Olympic gold medal basketball game between the U.S. and Serbia. The one-hour show was sandwiched between Olympic network coverage which may have attributed to the huge viewership which seems to be an anomaly when compared to past PBC on NBC telecasts.
Deontay Wilder and his promoter Lou DiBella are embroiled in a lawsuit with Alexander Povetkin and his promoter World of Boxing, LLC over a failed fight that was set to happen in Russia in May. Povetkin tested positive for Meldonium. However, he claimed that only small traces were found in his sample and his use occurred prior to January 1, 2016 when WADA banned the substance. The WBC reinstated Povetkin because the substance in his system was below the threshold accepted by WADA although it claimed to require Povetkin to submit to drug tests. The parties are embroiled in a discovery fight but the case is set to go to trial this spring.
Notably, Povetkin tested positive after he was reinstated and scheduled to face Bermane Stiverne for the WBC heavyweight title. He stated that he wanted his “B” sample tested on Thursday at the UCLA Laboratory in Los Angeles.
DiBella is one of the boxing promoters that protested the new law legalizing MMA in New York, but requiring promoters to provide $1 million worth of coverage per athlete in the event of a life-threatening brain injury. He pulled the rest of his shows scheduled for New York in late October as a form of protest and as a matter of practicality. Jo DeGuardia of Star Boxing along with DiBella submitted a public comment regarding the regulations.
A survey of all of the fights on HBO, including PPV replays, drew an average of 780,000 subscribers of the premium channel. The highest-rated fight this year was GGG versus Dominic Wade on April 23rd which drew over 1.3 million viewers. Only two other fights reached past 1 million viewers: Sergey Kovalev versus Jean Pascal which drew 1.179 million viewers in January and Andre Ward versus Sullivan Barrera which drew 1.064 million viewers.
Showtime had less fights this year and drew an average of 363,000 viewers.
In May, a year after the “Fight of the Century” between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. resulted in a lawsuit as Showtime sued Top Rank citing indemnification and breach of contract related to lawsuits filed by third parties against Showtime and Top Rank related to Pacquiao’s claim that he fought with an injury against Mayweather. Showtime sought to invoke the indemnification language in the contract. However, Top Rank, as you might expect, disagreed with the reading of the contract. In fact, they intended to bring a motion to dismiss Showtime’s lawsuit.
But, in September, Showtime voluntarily dismissed its case.
Finally, it was a rather disappointing 2016 for boxing PPVs.
Boxing PPVs 2016
April 9, 2016 – Pacquiao-Bradley III: ~400K PPV buys
May 7, 2016 – Alvarez-Khan: ~450K-600K PPV buys
July 23, 2016 – Crawford-Postol: 50K-60K PPV buys
September 17, 2016 – Alvarez-Smith: >~300K PPV buys
November 5, 2016 – Pacquiao-Vargas: ~300K PPV buys
November 19, 2016 – Ward-Kovalev – 160,000 PPV buys
An unfair comparison, except for this web site I suppose, but if you consider the UFC had its most successful year on PPV with 5 events going over 1 million, boxing had a dismal year. Canelo Alvarez, the predicted heir to boxing PPV, did not draw as expected and Manny Pacquiao is losing his appeal in the U.S. Note that HBO passed on distributing his November fight in order to promote a fight that drew just 160,000 on PPV. Unless GGG-Canelo happens in the fall of 2017, there are not any marquee PPV fights coming up in boxing this year.