by TK Stewart
Hours after Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez engaged in another great night of boxing on HBO PPV, the money wasn't yet tallied as to how many pay-per view buys were ordered up by boxing fans. Early indicators are that the rematch, which Pacquiao won by split-decision, will be a big winner at the cash register.
Just over 11,000 fans flooded into the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and because the arena was sold out even more fans paid $50 each to watch it on the big screen in another room at the casino.
If you were watching television in the week or so before the fight it was difficult not to see the commercials hyping the "Unfinished Business" rematch as it was a multi-pronged promotion that will pay big dividends.
But it likely could have been even more of a financial blockbuster without the dirtiest word a boxing promoter has ever heard - YouTube.
The morning after the fight, anybody with Internet access could log onto the popular Web site and watch the entire Pacquiao - Marquez rematch free of charge. The night before, if you wanted to watch the fight and the three bout undercard, you could have done so on HBO PPV but you would have had to pony up $49.95 to do it.
But less than twelve hours after the fight had ended in Las Vegas, 14,332 people had already viewed the entire fight or portions of it on YouTube.
Now that may not seem like a large number, especially from a global perspective, but when it's put into dollars and cents the impact and power of YouTube hits home like a Manny Pacquiao straight left hand.
If all 14,332 that viewed the fight for free had paid the $49.95 pay-per view asking price it translates into $715, 883.40 of possible lost revenue. That's right, nearly three quarters of a million dollars. Real money, to be sure, and that dollar figure rises every hour as thousands more voyeurs log on and view for free.
Most boxing fans see this new "free" system as a wonderful reprieve from outrageously high cable and satellite bills. Many no doubt take it as an act of liberation to be able to take a pass on the pay-per view show and then watch a fight the next day for nothing.
But the real impact of what this means for the sport of boxing may not be realized by the very fans that purport to love and support it.
A cursory examination will tell you that this is money that the television networks and promoters use to pay the fighters and that the fighters in turn use to pay their staff of trainers, handlers and support people. It's money that promoters would have used to make payroll and hire publicists to do all the work behind the scenes to put these huge events together. It's money that would have been used to help with marketing expenses and to pay for everything from conference calls to press room meals to plane tickets to fight posters.
Now some will argue that the television networks and promoters are fat cats who have gotten rich on the backs of a powerless public that has been forced to pay $40 or $50at least once a month in order to watch their favorite fighters. They would say that YouTube is nothing more than a way for the fans to circumvent the power brokers in the sport and it allows them to get the last laugh on names like Don King and Bob Arum as well as HBO and Showtime.
But the fans shouldn't laugh too hard. In the end, it's likely the fighters who are losing out.
Instead of Pacquiao receiving $3 million for his fight with Marquez, maybe he gets several hundred thousand more if the fight does high pay-per view numbers. That means more for his trainer Freddie Roach and more for everyone right on down the line of the gravy train.
I'd guess that when it's all said and done and that when all of the dollars are counted, that it's the fighters who are really left holding a lighter lunch pail. And that's a shame.
Arum Stirs the Pot - Many fans and also many in the boxing media (is their a difference anymore?) have been getting on Bob Arum's case because they don't like the fact that he has decided not to do an immediate third fight between Pacquiao and Marquez.
Instead, Arum's going to match Pacquiao against WBC Lightweight titlist David Diaz on June 28th. Arum is also Diaz’ promoter. Even Richard Schaeffer of Golden Boy Promotions (who should take some lessons from Bob) was unhappy with the direction that Arum is taking Pacquiao next. But as Bobby Brown used to sing, that’s his “prerogative”.
Arum has been criticized for not matching his middleweight champion, Kelly Pavlik, against Winky Wright. After the fight with John Duddy fell apart at the hands of Walid Smichet, Arum was left looking for an opponent. The obvious choice was Wright, but Arum steered Pavlik as far away from Wright as possible and didn’t want to hear anything about Winky Wright whom Arum perceives to be overpriced and with a less than fan friendly style of fighting.
Instead Arum will match Pavlik against the unknown (at least here in the USA) Gary Lockett from Wales.
So why would Arum take his two shiniest stars in Pacquiao and Pavlik and match them against lesser names like Diaz and Lockett?
Well, Arum’s plans allow him to keep more of the money as he doesn’t have to split the proceeds with Golden Boy Promotions if he stays away from Marquez and Wright. And he gets the chance to allow his two crown jewels to take a bit of a breather after having been matched very tough in their most recent fights.
It also allows a third Pacquiao vs. Marquez fight to simmer on the burner for a while longer and stew into a mega promotion. It will be an even tastier treat if Pacquiao beats David Diaz and Marquez also wins another fight. A rematch at the end of the year, after the fans have been made to wait several months for it, will surely whet every one's appetite.
As for Pavlik, a gimme fight against Lockett on June 7th in Atlantic City allows the middleweight contenders to sort themselves out a little bit and hopefully a clear front-runner to Pavlik will emerge. If nothing else, it allows John Duddy’s cuts a while to heal and for him to learn a defensive move or two from his trainer Don Turner. It would also allow us to see whether an inactive, Krispy Kreme eating Winky Wright can even make 160 pounds.
Make no mistake, Arum is a master chef when it comes to Pavlik and Pacquiao and even though he's closing in on 80 years old, he's still cooking.
Mayweather’s Wrestling Career - Unlike some other boxing scribes, I have no problem with Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s foray into the laughable world of professional wrestling. I’ve always thought someplace like the WWE is just the spot for Floyd and his personality. Truth be told, Mayweather's type of act plays best in the theatrical world of pro wrestling.
When the "Pretty Boy" told me one night in Las Vegas that he was “better than Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali” he believed it. And anybody with that much of a warped sense of himself and with that sort of sick sense of humor should do very well in the WWE. I hope he stays in wrestling. He blends right in well with that gang of thugs and misfits.
I also hope that all 441 pounds of the “Big Show” trips and falls on him when they meet at Wrestlemania XXIV.
TK Stewart is an award winning boxing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]