Bellator 208 draws 521,000 viewers on Paramount

October 17, 2018

Bellator 208 on Paramount Saturday night drew 521,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event featured Fedor defeating Chael Sonnen in the last semi-final of the Heavyweight Grand Prix.

It was the second of back-to-back nights for the promotion.  The event also aired on DAZN.

In addition to Fedor and Sonnen, Benson Henderson defeated Saad Awad.

Payout Perspective:

Although 521,000 viewers does not seem that impressive, it is the best viewership since Bellator 199 this past May.  One might infer that there were more viewers since DAZN was an optional way to view the event.  The viewership suggests that Fedor is still a draw for many MMA fans.

DAZN signs Canelo to richest contract in sports

October 17, 2018

Canelo Alvarez has signed a 5-year, 11 fight deal worth $365 million with new streaming service DAZN according to ESPN.  The deal begins with Alvarez’s December fight against Rocky Fieldinng.

The deal is the richest athlete contract in sports history.  According to the ESPN story, HBO had the right of first negotiation and a “last-look” provision for Alvarez’s December fight and it made an offer for an HBO PPV event but decided not to match DAZN’s offer.

Alvarez fought Gennady Golovkin this past September on PPV.  It was his last fight under his promotional agreement with Golden Boy Boxing.  The event drew 1.1 million viewers for at a suggested PPV price point of $84.95.  DAZN’s streaming service is $9.99 per month and offers boxing as well as Bellator MMA.  It started its service in North America this past September featuring an Anthony Joshua fight.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps following PBC’s strategy of paying up front in hopes of earning money in the end, DAZN has made a huge investment in Canelo Alvarez.  Arguably, he’s the only PPV draw in boxing since Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.  Signing with the streaming service marks another sign of the shift of how consumers watch sports.  The question will be how DAZN will be able to recoup on its investment and how soon.

ESPN Top Rank Boxing reports strongest telecast of 2018

October 16, 2018

ESPN Top Rank Boxing on Saturday night drew 2.245 million viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily. The event was the highest-rated live boxing telecast of 2018.

Ring.tv reports that the peak of the telecast drew 2.7 million viewers.  The main event saw Terrence Crawford put away Jose Benavidez, Jr. in the 12th and final round of their fight.

It drew 1.038 million viewers in the A18-49 demo according to Nielsen.

The ratings reflect the highest rating for an ESPN Top Rank Boxing telecast since Manny Pacquiao took on Jeff Horn in the first telecast of the partnership.

Payout Perspective:

This is good news for boxing and boxing fans as we have seen an expansion of boxing viewership.  While HBO has foreclosed its time in the sport, PBC on Fox, Top Rank on ESPN and now DAZN’s latest coup of signing on Canelo Alvarez for his next fight this December shows that the sport continues to grow.  With these latest ratings, we will see if Terence Crawford can make the next step in his career: pay-per-view star.

Boxer Austin Trout case moved to arbitration, casts concern on future of Ali Act

October 16, 2018

A Federal Court in Puerto Rico has dismissed boxer Austin Trout’s lawsuit against the World Boxing Organization for claims of violating the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.  The court determined that due to the signed contact, Trout must submit to arbitration.

Austin Trout Case Order on … by on Scribd

Trout claimed that the WBO had dropped him from the promotion’s ranking arbitrarily which affected his ability to receive a title shot.

The lawsuit landed in Federal Court in Puerto Rico after the boxing promotion moved the case to Puerto Rico where its offices are located.  Originally Trout filed the lawsuit in state court in New Mexico.  The WBO moved the case to Federal Court in New Mexico and then requested the venue change to Puerto Rico which the Court granted.

The WBO claimed that Trout was bound by the terms of his WBO contract which required that he arbitrate any disputes he had with the contract.  According to the contract, the WBO would handle the arbitration and any appeal would be heard by a grievance committee put together by the promotion.

Trout argued that the lawsuit should remain in court for two reasons.  First, Trout’s attorneys argued that the WBO waived its right to arbitration as it already appeared in the case and filed procedural motions for the case to be moved to federal court and then to Puerto Rico.  Secondly, Trout argued that his claims were based upon violations of the Ali Act which should be litigated instead of arbitrated.  Furthermore, it argued that the arbitration clause was invalid because the WBO would effectively “be both a party and a judge.”

The WBO moved to compel arbitration and dismiss the lawsuit.  In siding with the WBO, the Court indicated that the WBO’s contract which included the arbitration clause was valid and related to the dispute alleged by Trout and therefore it was a valid arbitration clause.  Trout unsuccessfully argued that there was ambiguity in the contract and with contracts of adhesion, they should be found in favor of the non-drafting party.  Here, Trout argued that the arbitration clause related to disputes with third parties whereas disputes directly with the promotion could be litigated.  Part of this argument was due to the WBO serving as the arbitrator in the matter.  However, the court found no ambiguity and that the contract availed the parties to arbitration on all matters.

As to the argument that the lawsuit was litigated by the WBO and as a result, it had waived its right to arbitration, the court argued that the sole responses made by the promotion in court were procedural and not substantive.  Hence, it had not participated in litigation of the case and did not waive its right to an arbitration.

There is no indication that Trout will appeal this decision at this point.

Payout Perspective:

The underlying issue in this decision is that claims under the Muhammad Ali Act could be arbitrated based on a contract signed by the parties.  This does not bode well for the possibility of the Ali Act Expansion to combat sports.  The reason being is that if the party drafting the contract (e.g., Zuffa) includes a provision that all disputes under the contract shall be resolved via arbitration, it might mute the effectiveness of the Ali Act.  While arbitration is a faster way to resolve disputes, in the Trout case, he was concerned with the ability for the WBO to be judge and a party.  One might foresee an MMA promotion including in its contract its ability to choose an arbitrator.  We have already seen that the UFC Anti-Doping Policy has chosen its own vendor and arbitrator.  It would likely do the same for any case claiming a violation of the Ali Act.  Unless there is an appeal, look for this decision to rear its head in the future.

Crawford-Benavidez fight draws big ratings on ESPN

October 15, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Saturday night drew a 1.6 metered market rating according to Nielsen which made it the highest-rated boxing telecast in 2018.  The main event which featured Terence Crawford scoring a 12th round KO of Jose Benavidez averaged a 1.8 metered market rating.

The main event was the highest-rated Top Rank bout and main event on ESPN.  The event took place in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.  The main event between the two unbeatens was heated as Crawford took a swing at Benavidez at the weigh-ins.

In the co-main event, Shakur Stevenson defeated Viorel Simion via TKO in the first round.  The event drew a metered 1.3 rating according to Nielsen.

Payout Perspective:

The telecast was the second-highest rated Top Rank event on ESPN to the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn fight which kicked off the Top Rank-ESPN partnership. The event went up against Bellator on Paramount and though we will not get the overall ratings until later on Monday, boxing beat MMA on Saturday night.  The question becomes whether Crawford can draw on PPV and outside of Omaha.

HBO leaving boxing busines

September 27, 2018

The NY Times reports that HBO is leaving the boxing business after 45 years in the business.  HBO’s vice president of sports, Peter Nelson, made the announcement to HBO Boxing production staff Thursday morning.

According to the NY Times, Jim Lampley will remain on with HBO while Max Kellerman, Harold Lederman, Andre Ward and Roy Jones, Jr. will depart the network.  Nelson indicated that based on audience research, boxing was no longer a factor when subscribing to HBO.

The competition for boxing on television has increased in recent years.  Most recently DAZN launched its over the top platform this past Saturday with Anthony Joshua fighting Alexander Povetkin.  The company has signed a stable of boxers to fill its platform with content in addition to select Bellator MMA events and Combate Americas.  ESPN signed a deal with Top Rank which cut out a big piece of HBO’s roster of boxers.  Top Rank is now on ESPN and ESPN+.  Despite questions regarding its controversial business strategy, PBC has signed a lucrative deal with Fox to air its event on the network.

Payout Perspective:

The decline in viewership for boxing events on HBO and the increased competition was likely the nail in the coffin for boxing on the network.  There have been many memorable moments on HBO and it will be a shame to see it go.  But the reality is that the competition from other forces which center on combat sports and the network’s commitment to other areas of programming meant that this business decision was reasonable and probably best for the company.

Canelo-GGG II draws approximately 1.1M PPV buys

September 25, 2018

Canelo-GGG II on September 15th drew approximately 1.1 million PPV buys per a report by ESPN which probed multiple industry sources regarding the buy rate.  The report would mean that the rematch fell short of the original fight between the two.

With a suggested retail price of $84.95, the event generated at least $94 million in the United States for the HBO PPV telecast.  The first fight between the two drew 1.3 million buys.  The rematch generated more revenue since the price point was higher.

Golden Boy, the promoters for the event, stated they would not release its official buy rate information but indicated between the gate, PPV buys and digital sales, it did better than their first bout.  The live gate at the T-Mobile Arena drew 423,473,500 from the sale of 16,732 tickets.

Payout Perspective:

The ESPN report notes that streaming PPV increased since the last fight so that may attribute to the low PPV rate.  Regardless of being 1.1 or 1.3, the fight produced and will likely garner a trilogy.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN draws 662,000 viewers

September 17, 2018

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Friday night drew 662,000 viewers and a 0.22 rating in the A18-49 demo per Nielsen.  The event took place the night before the big GGG-Canelo Alvarez fight.

The main event of the ESPN telecast saw Jose Ramirez defeat Antonio Orozco via unanimous decision in a matchup of super lightweights.  The event took place at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California.

This summer’s Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Ratings:

September 15 – 662,000 viewers

August 18 – 686,000 viewers

July 14 – 518,000 viewers

July 7 – 534,000 viewers

June 30 – 632,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The event is slightly less than last month although it was the second-highest TR on ESPN telecast this summer. The telecast served more as a reminder to the casual viewers of the big PPV event Saturday.  It also gave boxing fans a little action before the main event the next day.

Canelo-GGG II purses: Canelo $5M, GGG $4M

September 14, 2018

The Nevada Athletic Commission have disclosed the purses for this Saturday’s long-awaited rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.

Canelo will make a disclosed $5 million to show while GGG is guaranteed $4million.  It is anticipated that both will make much more than the disclosed amounts based on contractual agreements which likely includes a cut of the PPV buys.

Corrected. I had the payouts from last year.  Here are the undercard payouts per Kevin Iole


Notably, Chocolatito Gonzales makes his return and will make $200,000 to face Moises Fuentes.  Jaime Muniga will make $250,000 to defend his WBO Super Welterweight Title.

Payout Perspective:

The reported payouts for the main event are almost the same from their last fight.  The reported guarantees show that negotiations for the rematch helped a little but its not a 50-50 split.  Perhaps GGG made up for it the non-disclosed payouts but we may not know until the PPV buys are all tabulated.

State appeals court overturns $8.5 million judgment against Canelo

September 14, 2018

A state appeal court in Miami has overturned a trial court ruling which found in favor of Canelo Alvarez’s former manager and ordered the boxer pay $8.5 million.  The Florida District Court of Appeals for Miami-Dade County set aside the judgment.

The appellate court decision filed two days prior to Alvarez’s big showdown against Gennady Golovkin in Vegas stated that the jury verdict awarding promoter Felix “Tutico” Zabala Jr of All Star Boxing $8.5 million was unjust enrichment, speculative and not supported by substantial competent evidence.  While the judgment was vacated, it did state that Alvarez have to compensate Zabala and ruled that the trial court determine the judgment.

Zabala brought the lawsuit against Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions stating that Canelo signed a 4 year promotional deal and that Golden Boy took the fighter from the promotion.  Golden Boy was dismissed from the lawsuit prior to the trial which took place in June 2016.  A jury awarded the $8.5 million judgment plus 4.75% annual interest.  Alvarez filed an appeal.

H/t: Dan Rafael

Payout Perspective:

Interesting timing of the decision considering Canelo fights on Saturday.  Dependent on the trial court rendering a decision on the judgment, All Star Boxing may appeal the latest decision as the court has taken the decision out of the hands of the jury and installed its own ruling.  There are times when a court believes that he the judgment does not match the evidence, but that would seemingly undercut the rationale behind having a jury as a trier of fact.

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