March 13, 2015
The LA Times is reporting that Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have agreed to enhanced drug testing by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). While in previous negotiations for this fight, the parties stalled on the issue, this time around the Olympic-style drug testing was quickly accepted.
One of the reasons why the camps for Mayweather and Pacquiao could never put the fight together was due to issues related to drug testing. Mayweather had accused Pacquiao of taking steroids. This led to a lawsuit in which Pacquiao sued Mayweather for defamation. In addition to a settlement in which Mayweather paid Pacquiao a reported $5 million, he also paid Pacquiao’s lawyers over $113,000 in legal fees and costs for evading a deposition.
Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, indicates that Pacquiao has submitted to VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) for years. The organization implements similar drug testing protocol to USADA.
Under USADA, the boxers will submit to urine and blood testing which may happen at any time. Each fighter has agreed to the World Anti-Doping Agency code stipulation which includes a four-year ban from competition if an athlete tests positive for a banned substance.
The drug testing issue is good news and verifies the fact that each fighter should be free of PEDs. The UFC will be looking for a similar drug testing policy by July and an organization like USADA would be very beneficial in cleaning up the sport. Obviously for the UFC, there are a variety of hurdles (legal and political) it must clear before it implements its policy in July.
January 27, 2015
ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that Saturday night’s HBO boxing card featuring the third fight between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvardo drew 1.252 million HBO viewers. According to Nielsen the peak of the fight drew 1.315 million viewers.
Per Rafael, it was the most watch fight of the three between Rios and Alvardo. Also on Saturday, the Gilberto Ramirez-Maxim Vlasov fight which preceded the main event drew 820,000 viewers with a peak at 946,000 viewers.
HBO Boxing on Saturday featuring Rios-Alvarado (which occurred after UFC on Fox 14) outdid the big Deontay Wilder-Bermane Stiverne fight on Showtime the week before. The ratings for the fights on HBO and Showtime show that boxing is gaining some ratings momentum. With the news that Al Haymon has secured spots on NBC, NBC Sports Network and SpikeTV, we can see more of good boxing events in 2015.
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.
December 3, 2014
ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that Saturday night’s HBO Boxing After Dark featuring Terence Crawford scored an average of only 836,000 viewers of its subscribers with a peak at 936,000. The event also include the replay of Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri from the week before which scored an average of 904,000 with a peak of 1.120 million viewers.
The other live fight of the night, Evgeny Gradovich and Jayson Velez drew more viewers than the feature. It averaged 865,000 viewers with a peak of 1.033 million. Crawford defeated Raymundo Beltran and Gradovich and Velez fought to a draw.
As is traditional for HBO/Showtime boxing events, the ratings were given for the specific fights and not on the event as a whole.
The event did go up against the big Auburn-Alabama game (which drew 13.5 million viewers) and other rivalry college football games. Rafael points out the fact that the main event occurred late for east coast viewers which may have impacted the draw. Still, the number is poor considering the event also included the PPV replay. Moreover, Crawford drew 1.2M viewers for his fight this summer. As one of the fighters that could (and should) carry the torch for boxing post-Mayweather/Pacquiao, the ratings are disappointing. Yet, the opening fight did better ratings than Crawford.
November 29, 2014
The Sports Business Journal revealed its annual reader survey on various topics related to sports business. This year included questions about the UFC, WWE and boxing.
In a survey related to over the top networks, readers indicated that the UFC is the “Fight sport” that will see the biggest growth over the next five years. Of the 684 readers that responded, the UFC garnered 72% while boxing drew 17% and the WWE had 11%.
It also asked readers which over-the-top service was their favorite. Of the 818 responses, NFL Now drew the most votes with only 11%, followed by 120 Sports with 9%, WWE Network with 4% and then UFC Fight Pass with just 1%. Notably, 75% of the respondents stated it did not watch any of them.
On an unrelated, yet interesting note on digital league subscriptions, readers found MLB.tv (22% of the 818 respondents) their favorite followed by NFL Sunday Ticket (18%) with NHL GameCenter Live coming in third (14%). This is interesting considering the NFL usually takes tops with its coverage.
SBJ indicates it has a readership of over 54,000 with many business executives in sports reading the trade publication. The UFC is periodically featured in the publication and the UFC and WWE both advertise in it. Obviously, the survey is not based on anything other than the opinions of the readers. Still, it’s an interesting viewpoint on the business from those that do not closely follow the UFC. With the “growth” aspect, it’s clear that the UFC is moving into more global markets and are forging overseas television deals to advance its product. The WWE is already global and it depends on what organization you look at when looking at boxing. Certainly, Top Rank is trying to tap into the Chinese market. As for the over the top networks, it appears that we are still in the “early adopter” stage for the platform. The WWE has gone all in with its network but the UFC seems to be doing much better with Fight Pass despite the perception from the survey.
November 26, 2014
Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective. This time we take a look at Manny Pacquiao’s latest fight this past Saturday against Chris Algieri at the Venetian Macao off of mainland China.
Pacquiao posts 6 knockdowns in rout of Algieri
Maybe 2 of the knockdowns were due to slipping in Pacquiao’s corner. Yet, the other four were legitimate and reflects the fact that Chris Algieri was not in the same class of Manny Pacquiao. Although Pacquiao’s star may not be as bright in the U.S., the Macao fans were fully behind him. Pacquiao could not end Algieri short of the final bell but showed that he still had the speed and power to score some impressive knockdowns.
So what’s next for Pacquiao? He is contemplating a move back down to 140 pounds where Roy Jones-trained Jessie Vargas, who was on the undercard, may be an interesting match-up. Of course, there is that long-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather looming. Then again, everyone has heard these rumors for years.
Vargas, Lomachenko and Shiming score victories
Jessie Vargas, Vasyl Lomachenko and Zou Shiming scored victories on the undercard of the PPV. Vargas, now trained by Roy Jones, Jr. defeated Antonio DeMarco, a Freddie Roach fighter, in the opener. Lomachenko, in his first title defense, defeated Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo and Zou Shiming defeated a Thai Manny Pacquiao doppelganger, Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym.
ESPN reported attendance a sellout at 13,201 at Macao’s Cotai Arena off the coast of mainland China. Last year for Pacquiao-Rios was a sellout as well.
Conspicuous by its absence, were the HBO 24/7 three part episodes. Instead, we were given just one 24/7 but it was probably for the best. While we could have been introduced to Algieri more, I’m sure HBO execs were unsure about how much to invest in the boxer still living with his parents. Algieri had a good backstory and the first 5 minutes of 24/7 did a good job in drawing parallels between Pacquiao and Algieri. Also, I’m sure it’s becoming harder to find interesting stories for Pacquiao. This time around they followed him around making the rounds as a politician and captured him playing for a basketball team he now owns.
Although Pacquiao and Algieri made the normal rounds to promote the fight, it felt like this fight did not have the usual Pac Man buzz.
Sponsors in the ring included Tecate, the upcoming Fox series Empire and Philippine paint company Boysen.
Probably the best promotion for this fight was Manny Pacquiao’s Foot Locker commercial which played on the reaction of Manny Pacquiao when he mistakenly believed that Floyd Mayweather had accepted a fight with him. In that commercial, Pacquiao sported a Nike, “Black Mamba Training” t-shirt.
Algieri wore a Nike-sponsored Stony Brook (his alma mater) jersey to the weigh-ins and was sponsored by the swoosh for this fight. Similar to Tim Bradley, the company made a logo for him.
Cerritos and South Coast Mitshubishi patches were all over boxers and corner men throughout the night. It is the Dynamic Fastener of boxing.
Odds and ends
Dionesia Pacquiao, Manny Pacquiao’s mother was once again a part of the show. Notably, she was going around the ring post-fight with her rosary.
Having an annual event in Macao appears to be part of the plan for HBO/Top Rank as it seeks growth in the Chinese market.
Busy night for Freddie Roach with multiple fighters including Zou Shiming and Pacquaio on the card.
Possibly the fight of the night was the PPV opener with Jessie Vargas defeating Antonio DeMarco. Vargas could be someone on the radar for Pacquiao.
Notably, comedian Dave Chapelle, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were all in attendance. Chappelle had made the trip last year for Pacquiao’s fight.
There were over 500,000 google searches for Manny Pacqiuao Saturday. Is that good? Yes, but I am not confident that the amount of searches for Pacquiao would equate to PPV buys. Pacquiao’s Macao fight last year against Brandon Rios did only 450K-550K PPV buys depending on who you asked. It felt like there was less promotion done domestically and we may see this hurt the buy rate. I would expect the same PPV range as the Rios fight last year.
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.
November 7, 2014
Boxer Mikey Garcia has agreed to dismiss three of his causes of action against promoter Top Rank. The stipulation to dismiss his claims avoids a summary judgment motion brought by his promoter in a dispute over his fight contract.
Garcia’s attorneys and Top Rank attorneys stipulated to dismissal of 3 claims that were at issue in Top Rank’s motion filed last month. The dismissed claims related to issues that Garcia alleged were in violation of California law. The case of removed (i.e., transferred) out of state court and sent to federal court in Nevada.
Garcia still has a claim under the Muhammad Ali Act pending.
We shall see if this concession on the part of Garcia’s lawyers leads to an eventual settlement between the parties. Certainly, the stipulation prevents a loss by Garcia’s counsel and the possibility of Garcia having to pay for Top Rank’s lawyer fees for the motion if it prevails in the case. Not a lot of boxers succeed when suing under the Ali Act and we will see if Garcia intends to follow through with this lawsuit.
October 22, 2014
ESPN’s Dan Rafael tweeted out the top live, first-time airings of boxing events for 2014. Notably, the top 10 are all HBO events.
- Chavez-Vera 2 (HBO) 1.39M (peak 1.53M)
- 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
We note that these television ratings are for the fights only and not the entire block of time. A couple of the HBO events had two fights in the top 14. Notably, Donaire-Walters were the semi-main event for GGG-Rubio. Also, Salido-Lomanchenko were on Chavez-Vera 2. Also interesting is that NBC Sports Network and the quarterly fights held on Saturday on NBC did not crack the top 14. It had previously scored over 1 million viewers for its Saturday afternoon events.