By Jake Donovan
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez did exactly what most expected would be the case in the ring for his May 7 middleweight title defense versus Amir Khan in Las Vegas, Nevada.
How well the pay-per-view telecast performed depends entirely on which source is to be trusted.
Numbers from legitimate sources reported to various outlet – though none willing to go on the record (including those who’ve responded to requests from BoxingScene.com) – have the four-fight PPV event selling anywhere from 390,000 to 600,000 units.
The most trusted sources – those without a dog in the hunt and greater connected to those who obtain data and trends from cable and satellite providers – have placed the event at 460,000 PPV buys. The figure was first reported by Yahoo! Sports senior boxing/MMA writer Kevin Iole, whose sources tend to be the most accurate when it comes to final PPV figures.
Alvarez (47-1-1, 33KOs) scored a highlight reel one-punch 6th round knockout of Khan in the first successful defense of his middleweight title. He became the first ever boxer from Mexico to win the World (lineal) championship, doing so in a 12-round win over Miguel Cotto last November. That event reportedly sold 900,000 units, a figure validated by Mark Taffet, who at the time headed HBO’s PPV division.
In the wake of Taffet’s resignation from his previous position, HBO has informed inquiring media that the burden of releasing PPV figures will now be placed squarely on the lead promoter(s) of said events.
Sources from Golden Boy Promotions leaked out to select media members that the event sold 600,000 units, although a figure that has yet to be validated by any neutral party with access to such data.
The May 7 event christened the recently erected T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, drawing an announced crowd of 16,500 in attendance. The box office tally, coupled even with the figure of 460,000 units sold firmly establish Alvarez as the most bankable athlete in the U.S. boxing market in the wake of the recent retirements of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
In fact, each of Alvarez’ past two PPV events have outperformed the final bouts in the respective careers of Mayweather and Pacquiao, both suffering a massive dropoff from their record breaking event one year ago.
The confirmed star power of the 25-year old two-division champ from Mexico has been at the forefront in the wake of recently ordered negotiations with unbeaten, unified titlist Gennady Golovkin. Their mandatory title fight was ordered on May 9, with the two sides given 15 days to agree to terms or else be subject to a purse bid hearing to be held on May 24 at World Boxing Council (WBC) headquarters in Mexico City.
Golden Boy Promotions and K2 Promotions, who represent Alvarez and Golovkin (35-0, 32KOs), respectively, have both agreed to negotiate behind closed doors – meaning not through the media, and with nothing to report until they either reach a deal or a decision is made as to next steps for the two best middleweights in the world.
Golovkin has served as the mandatory challenger since a 2nd round knockout of Marco Antonio Rubio in Oct. ’14. He agreed to step aside to allow then-champion Miguel Cotto to defend versus Alvarez, followed by an agreed upon pact for Golovkin and Alvarez to take on interim fights in the first half of 2016 before moving towards talks for a head-on collision.
Both did their part in scoring knockout wins. Golovkin annihilated Dominic Wade in two rounds this past April in front of a sold-out crowd at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Their April 23 clash rates as the most watched cable TV fight of 2016 to date.
Two weeks later, Alvarez came through with the highest-selling PPV event of the year – even if cable and satellite providers are not in line with the figures being leaked by unnamed sources connected to the promotion.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Follow his shiny new Twitter account: @JakeNDaBox_v2