January 2, 2015
MMA Payout takes a quick review of 2014 in the sport of boxing.
2014 was an interesting year for the sport as boxing began to expand with more PPVs than the standard Pacquiao and Mayweather bi-yearly events.
Canelo Alvarez faced Alfredo Angulo in March (the event drew an impressive 350,000 PPV buys), Sergio Martinez faced Miguel Cotto in New York in June (although projected to score 475,000 PPV buys, it drew just an estimated 350,000) and Alvarez returned in July to headline a PPV with Erislandly Lara (it drew an estimated 300,000 PPV buys). There were also hints of Gennady Golovkin fighting on PPV although that never came to fruition.
Floyd Mayweather fought Marcos Maidana twice this year. After May’s Mayweather PPV (in which it reportedly drew 900,000 PPV buys), Showtime President Stephen Espinoza informed the media that it would no longer release PPV buy numbers unless the event sets a PPV record. However, after the second fight in September, it was revealed that the rematch drew 925,000 PPV buys.
Manny Pacquiao’s days as a PPV draw seem to be waning. Although his rematch with Tim Bradley drew an estimated 750-800K PPV buys, it was down from the near 900K PPV buys in their first fight. Although nothing official has been released, the Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri fight in November drew between 300,000 to 400,000 PPV buys depending on who you asked. If this number is correct, it’s a huge drop off for Pacquiao. This would be a likely reason why the push for the mythical matchup with Floyd Mayweather.
In October, ESPN’s Dan Rafael posted the top events in 2014 thus far. Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Brian Vera 2 drew 1.39 million viewers with a peak of 1.53 million. The ratings were for only that fight and not the entire card airing on HBO. HBO dominated the top rated boxing events on cable (premium and/or regular) and Showtime did not crack the top 10. Still, the competition between the two premium cable channels seemed to heat up in 2014.
With the Kovalev-Hopkins fight, we may see the cold war between Top Rank and Golden Boy softening. Yet, Al Haymon still is one of the unseen, most powerful men in the business.
There were several notable lawsuits in 2014.
First, Main Events Promotions, the promoter for Sergey Kovalev sued Al Haymon, Golden Boy, boxer Adonis Stevenson and others for backing out of a potential fight between Kovalev and Stevenson. The lawsuit was dismissed as the parties settled when Kovalev got his big fight against Bernard Hopkins.
Next, Andre Ward lost a California State Athletic Commission arbitration hearing this past spring against his promoter Goosen Tutor Promotions. Ward then turned around and sued him in Federal Court alleging violations of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.
Mikey Garcia sued Top Rank alleging issues with his contract including violations of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. The lawsuit was transferred to Nevada as Garcia originally filed in California.
Don King was found in breach of contract when his fighter failed a drug test for an event in Russia in 2014.
In addition to these lawsuits, there were major shakeups at Golden Boy with former CEO Richard Schaefer leaving Golden Boy. But, it appears to be a messy divorce with Golden Boy seeking $50 million in private arbitration.
Just like MMA, 2015 should be an interesting year for boxing.
November 22, 2014
With Manny Pacquiao returning to PPV Saturday night, the standard question of whether PPVs are worth it surfaced.
In a Newsday column published this week, there are quotes from both boxing and UFC executives which address the question of PPV as a viable platform. The conclusion appears to be that it takes a big event for people to purchase PPV. This is something most of us already knew. The column acknowledges that with the internet and social media, there are more ways to follow a PPV card without purchasing it. Also, more people are content with highlights they may be able to obtain legally online.
UFC exec Marshall Zelaznik is quoted in the piece and stated that it’s up to the UFC to “figure out how to create and develop content that will make people not want to miss it.” He went on to say that the UFC has to do “the right job to respect the consumer, to give them something that’s valuable and worth paying for.”
Dana White recently acknowledged this year’s PPV buy rates have been low and Floyd Mayweather’s PPV reputation has been affected with the underwhelming business done under the Showtime banner (except of course for The One). Still, one big PPV event can mean a major windfall for the company.
On Saturday night, Manny Pacquiao is on PPV once again against an unknown in Chris Algieri. Conspicuously, there has been little done in terms of promoting the fight. Unless it has gone under the radar, there are no Tecate promotions and $25 rebates this time around. The usual three rounds of HBO 24/7 has been limited to just one. Even the replays of past Pacquiao fights have been limited on HBO and the Audience Network as Bradley-Pacquiao II is replayed. Additionally, Algieri-Provodnikov has been replayed.
There’s nothing new in the column related to the current state of PPV except the quotes from the execs. It’s clear that the challenges of getting fans to buy PPVs are getting harder considering the amount of content out there, social media and the ability to see highlights that will satisfy one’s need to watch the event. Are there too many PPVs? Boxing has added several PPVs to the mix this year which may sway your mind about that question. Certainly, many MMA fans have their opinion on the UFC PPVs. As for Saturday’s event featuring Pacquiao, it will be interesting to see how many Pacquiao die hards will pay the $70 to watch.
November 11, 2014
According to Nielsen, Saturday night’s fight on HBO featuring Sergey Kovalev and Bernard Hopkins drew an average of 1.328 million of the network’s subscribers. The rating makes it the second-highest rated boxing event this year next to Chavez-Vera II.
A couple weeks ago, ESPN’s Dan Rafael compiled the highest-rated fights of 2014. Rafael reports that the peak for Saturday’s fight was 1.397M. Additionally, the undercard fight on HBO featuring Sadam Ali and Luis Carlos Abregu drew 882,000 network viewers.
- Chavez-Vera 2(HBO) 1.39M (peak 1.53M)
- Kovalev-Hopkins (HBO) 1.328M (peak 1.397M)
- GGG-Rubio(HBO) 1.304M (peak1.323M)
- Crawford-Gamboa(HBO) 1.208M (peak 1.286M)
- Marquez-Alvarado(HBO) 1.198M (peak 1.322M)
- Donaire-Walters(HBO) 1.088M
- Provodnikov-Algieri (HBO) 1.017M
- Salido-Lomachenko(HBO) 1.017M
- Kovalev-Agnew(HBO) 1.006M (peak 1.048M)
- Postol-Aydin(HBO) 1.002M (peak 1.1M)
- Kovalev-Caparello(HBO) 990,000 (peak 1.052M)
- GGG-Geale(HBO) 984,000 (peak 1.048M)
- Pascal-Bute (HBO) 982,000
- Garcia-Herrera (Showtime) 972,000
- Stiverne-Arreola 2 (ESPN) 940,000
Kovalev-Hopkins moves past GGG-Rubio as second on the list. The fight was dominated by Kovalev who put Hopkins down in the first round and controlled the rest of the fight.
These are great numbers for a fight which pitted the 49 year old Hopkins against the surging Kovalev. It was a fight that may be the olive branch that might end the cold war between Golden Boy and Top Rank which would be a bonus for the fans. The viewership by HBO was likely due to the outlier that is Hopkins as there were several glowing articles about him (including a very good New York Times Magazine piece by Carlo Rotella). There was also a 24/7 episode featuring the two fighters. We will see now where both fighters go from here.
October 20, 2014
This past Friday, attorneys for Top Rank Boxing filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings in U.S. District Court in Nevada seeking to dismiss a bulk of boxer Mikey Garcia’s lawsuit.
Garcia’s lawsuit was originally filed in Riverside County (CA) Superior Court. Top Rank lawyer’s removed the case to Federal Court in Nevada via a procedural rule allowing such transfers based on the lawsuit dealing with federal legal issues (i.e., Muhammad Ali Act). Garcia alleged that his promotional contract with Top Rank violated California law and the state’s strong public policy to protect California-based boxers from being taken advantage of by promoters and managers. In the lawsuit, 3 of California’s claims relate to violations of California law. Garcia claims that the promotional contract with Top Rank violated California’s Boxing Act and Professional Boxing Rules and California Labor Code section 2855. He also claimed it was a violation of California’s restraint on competition.
Top Rank has moved for the court to make a judgment to dismiss Garcia’s claims based on the boxer’s claims under state law in California. Essentially, Top Rank argues that Garcia entered into contracts with the promotion that state that the contract was governed by the state of Nevada. Thus, any claims Garcia makes that violate California law should be dismissed since the contract is based on Nevada law.
Basically, Top Rank argues that despite the fact that Garcia is a resident of California and has had events where he fought in California; the contract dispute should be governed by the state of Nevada. As such, Garcia’s legal claims related to violations of California law should be dismissed.
Top Rank argues several reasons why Nevada law should prevail under the terms of the contract. Namely, the terms of the contract dictate it, Garcia fought in Nevada and his manager does business in Nevada. Also, Nevada law would not contradict California law. It also cited the fact that prior boxing contracts with choice of law provisions are typically enforced by boxing commissions and courts. Notably, it cited Robert Guerrero’s lawsuit against Golden Boy Promotions in which Guerrero lost his legal battle allowing the parties to settle their case in New York per the terms of the contract. Guerrero argued that Top Rank did not use the appropriate CSAC forms and the case should be heard in California.
The motion to dismiss a portion of Garcia’s lawsuit was not surprising. The legal strategy here was that Top Rank transferred the lawsuit to federal court and out of California where the state laws would seemingly favor the boxer. Once the case was in Nevada, it sought to dismiss the California-specific claims. Certainly, prior cases reflect the fact that Top Rank had the right, based on the contract, to seek out the appropriate governing law. Whether or not the Court will grant the motion this time is another issue.
MMA Payout will keep you posted.
September 24, 2014
Boxer Canelo Alvarez has signed a muli-fight deal with HBO which will begin on December 6th or December 13th on the network. The deal is a major move in the world of boxing as Alvarez, considered the future of boxing, and a Golden Boy promoted fighter has joined the network dominated by fighters promoted by Top Rank.
Either date for the Alvarez fight will compete with UFC shows on the same dates. UFC 181 will feature the newly revamped main event of Johny Hendricks-Robbie Lawler on December 6th and the following Saturday will be the UFC on Fox show on the network.
The LA Times reports that the fight could take place in either Houston’s Minute Maid Park or Reliant Stadium.
The move follows a different path for Golden Boy as Oscar de la Hoya has retaken the helm of the promotion. Earlier this year, Bernard Hopkins decided to take a fight with HBO fighter Sergey Kovalev over Showtime’s Adonis Stevenson. Kovalev’s promoters had sued Stevenson, his manager, Al Haymon and Golden Boy as they claim Stevenson had backed out of a potential fight. Alvarez heading to HBO is good news for HBO as it gets one of the most popular fighters in the sport. One may argue that Alvarez was one of the main reasons that his fight with Floyd Mayweather set attendance and PPV records.
August 4, 2014
The parties in the lawsuit involving promoter Main Events and Adonis Stevenson, Al Haymon, Golden Boy, Showtime and Stevenson’s manager have been dismissed per a letter sent to the Court on Saturday morning.
As we reported, the lawsuit filed this past May was based on alleged agreement for Main Events and their fighter Sergey Kovalev to face Adonis Stevenson what was anticipated as a big money fight on HBO. However, Stevenson signed on with consultant Al Haymon and took a fight under the Golden Boy banner. After the schism within Golden Boy, it was believed that the fighter left with Haymon.
A lawsuit was filed by Main Events claiming breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, tortious interference and interference with prospective economic advantage premised upon emails between Main Events and Stevenson’s manager. Main Events claimed that the emails constituted a contract while the defendants claimed that the emails were not a contract as other details needed to be hashed out before a contract could be signed.
As one might expect, the defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss based on their theory that the emails did not constitute a contract. The court allowed Main Events to Amend its Complaint on August 4th but decided to settle the case.
In a letter which looks to be sent on Saturday morning, August 2nd, counsel for Main Events let the court know of a settlement and sought a cursory request to extend the deadline to file an Amended Complaint in the event the settlement fell through.
As a result of the settlement, Kovalev faces Bernard Hopkins this fall which will be co-promoted by Golden Boy and Main Events.
It appears that all is well that ends well. It’s clear that Kovalev’s promoters, Main Events, wanted to be made whole based upon the feeling of being left with nothing after Stevenson signed with Al Haymon. The Hopkins fight is a good substitute for Stevenson. Moreover, the legal claims made by Main Events were tenuous especially with the theory of a contract based upon emails. Instead of spending money on legal bills, the parties were able to negotiate an alternative.
July 25, 2014
Al Haymon and the rest of the defendants sued by promoter Main Events for allegedly breaching a contract for a fight between Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev have filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit. However, the Court has allowed Main Events to amend its Complaint which may render the motions moot.
Haymon, Showtime Networks, Inc. and Adonis Stevenson filed a motion requesting an oral argument be heard in the motion to dismiss the Complaint. In general, in federal court, most preliminary motions are decided on the moving papers unless oral argument is requested. Even then, the Court may deny a request. In addition, Richard Schaefer filed a motion to dismiss as well under the theory of respondent superior.
Essentially, Haymon et al. argue that there was no valid contract and as a result the Complaint filed against them should be dismissed. Since there is no contract, the allegations of tortious interference with a contract and interference with economic prospective advantage must be dismissed. Additionally, defendants claim that it lacked the requisite malice and intent needed for these claims.
The overarching issue is the lack of contract agreement. The defendants cite an email which preceded the purported email agreement between Stevenson’s promoter and Main Events. The email indicates that there was an agreement to agree on terms but details needed to be hashed over by attorneys at a later date. According to the defendants’ brief, in New Jersey, an “agreement to agree” upon material terms at a future time is an unenforceable indefinite promise.
Golden Boy also filed a motion to dismiss the tortious interference with contract and interference with prospective economic advantage claims as well. Golden Boy joined the motion of the other defendants but argued in addition that it was not responsible for Schaefer’s conduct on the basis of respondeat superior as the allegations occurred after Schaefer’s resignation. Basically, Golden Boy attempts to absolve itself from any conduct Schaefer may have done while as CEO as it pertains to dealings in the Stevenson-Kovalev deal.
While these Motions to Dismiss were filed, the Court allowed Main Events to submit an Amended Complaint no later than August 4, 2014 (which would make it the Second Amended Complaint). Discovery is stayed (halted) until further action from the Court
As predicted, defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss citing no formal contract. While emails between parties may be considered a binding contract, defendants make the argument that the terms were not definite and were only an “agreement to agree.” However, the news that Main Events may amend its Complaint may mean it will provide further definitive information on its claim. MMA Payout will keep you posted on the lawsuit.
July 21, 2014
Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza has announced that it will withhold upcoming PPV buy rates due to the controversy surrounding the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana PPV. Espinoza told BoxingScene.com that the buy rates will only be released if the event sets a PPV record.
The Mayweather-Maidana PPV reportedly received 900,000 PPV buys although ESPN’s Dan Rafael reported it sold between 800K-900K PPV buys. It should be noted that Espinoza and Rafael have had twitter beef in the past but that does not necessarily mean that Rafael’s report is off.
Espinoza explained his rationale in saying that the PPV buy rate speculation seemed to become “bigger than the event itself.” Basically, Espinoza believes withholding the numbers would reduce misrepresentations about the PPV performance and that certain figures would indicate some sort of failure for the event.
At a time when boxing is starting to feel the PPV strain, it’s an interesting move on the part of Showtime.
Imagine the outrage if Dana White were to tell media that they would not release PPV buy rates or even talk about that speculation. What do you think of the move by Showtime? Does it stop talk about PPV buys? While the move helps control the message, it also doesn’t end speculation. Certainly, not releasing information allows the blanket “you’re wrong” when it comes to any reports of PPV buys. Yet, this tact seems like the company is hiding something as well.
July 14, 2014
Boxing writer Steve Kim of the new Undisputed Champion Network web site wrote an article on whether boxing has too many PPVs on the eve of Canelo Alvarez’s third appearance on PPV within 12 months. The question is not new to UFC fan as they have been asking the question for some time.
For the UFC fan, UFC 174 exemplified the thesis that there are too many PPVs. Preliminary reports have that PPV featuring Flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson anywhere between 95,000 to 125,000 PPV buys. Regardless of where that number ended, it was the lowest output for a UFC PPV since 2006. It reflects the new market for PPV in the UFC. Fans will pick and choose which cards they want to purchase and it’s unlikely we’ll see 1 million PPV buy main events in the near future.
Kim talked to Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza prior to Canelo-Lara:
“I think we’re having a confluence of pay-per-views really, simply because we have three or four fighters who can legitimately carry a pay-per-view and they’ve decided to make the decision to go there,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive VP and GM for Showtime Sports and Event Programming, whose company is distributing this weekend’s event. “As for the network, we’d always prefer to have everything on the network. There’s certain realities which make that unrealistic but ultimately, it’s the fighter and the promoter that make that decision of when they want to go pay-per-view, when they don’t.
Kim also questioned whether boxing can go down the UFC road:
Still, a pay-per-view a month? What is this, the UFC? Does boxing really have that many fights worthy of such a designation?
The cynical MMA fan would say that the UFC doesn’t have that many PPV-worthy cards yet the UFC offers monthly cards on PPV for $55 per event.
For those that follow us, we touched on boxing beefing up its PPVs back in April. If you were to replace boxing with MMA in the article, the issues would be the same with the exception that Espinoza comments place the issue on the fighter/promoter rather than the network. In the UFC, the decision is all on the company whether it runs a PPV event and who will be on the card. In my opinion, a reason for more PPVs in boxing is a trickle-down theory in combat sports. Fighter/promoter payouts can be mitigated if a fight is put on PPV. Essentially profit margins are wider if you charge fans $60 for a fight rather than put it on subscription based television. It seems like this is the strategy rather than the previous strategy of waiting for a big fight with two top names. Certainly fighters have fought on HBO and Showtime in hopes that their career would ascend to a PPV. In recent weeks, boxing has put on some exciting fights on both premium subscription networks. So, the question is whether boxing fan will shell out $60-$75 for a fight that used to be on the networks.
July 1, 2014
ESPN reports that Saturday night’s HBO live boxing event featuring lightweight Terence Crawford defeating Yuriorkis Gamboa scored a rating of 1.208 million HBO subscribers with a peak at 1.286 million.
The Crawford-Gamboa fight was a back and forth action-packed fight. It was the second week in a row that had an entertaining fight as Robert Guerrero and Yoshihiro Kamegai put on a slugfest on Showtime the preceding week which drew 614,000 Showtime viewer average.
As reported by ESPN’s Dan Rafael, only Chavez, Jr-Vera II did better this year.
The fights on HBO Saturday coincided with UFC Fight Night 44 which received just 702,000 viewers on FS1. The HBO fights featured Terence Crawford fighting in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. According to Rafael’s report, it drew 10,943 for a gate of $500,000. It was a good draw for the hometown crowd. This makes it two weeks in a row in which boxing had two “Fight of the Year” fights. Although Guerrero-Kamegai may have drawn less, it was nonetheless a hard fought fight.