By Jake Donovan
It's been six months since Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao collided in the highest-grossing event in boxing history. The industry is still stuck in recovery mode, based on ratings, attendance and overall interest in the sport through the second half of 2015.
If there's a single bout that fans can point to a savings grace, it's the November 21 headliner between World middleweight champion Miguel Cotto and former super welterweight champ Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez. The pair of boxing superstars collide at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, with HBO Pay-Per-View to televise.
Nobody expects it - or any other event - to come within sniffing distance of the 4.6 million units sold for Mayweather-Pacquiao - a night that was a blockbuster success in every imaginable way except for the actual event itself. Stylistically, Cotto-Alvarez is viewed as a can't miss in terms of action.
But how will it perform in the Pay-Per-View market? Pretty damn well, event handlers insist.
"This event, people will watch because they know they will get guaranteed fireworks from that Puerto Rico vs. Mexico rivalry," promoter Oscar de la Hoya - whose Golden Boy Promotions guides Alvarez' career - stated during a recent media conference call.
Alvarez (45-1-1, 32KOs) certainly brings in the crowd, as evidenced by his return to HBO this past May. A three-round destruction of James Kirkland played to more than 30,000 fans at Minute Maid Park in Houston, while drawing more than two million viewers on HBO's flagship station - good for the most watchec cable TV fight in nine years.
The 25-year old boxing superstar from Mexico was also part of the previous highest-grossing PPV event of all time. The lone loss of his career came versus Mayweather in their Sept. '13 clash, which generated a live gate of more than $20 million at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, as well as more than $150 million in PPV revenue.
Cotto (40-4, 33KOs) has served as a major draw in New York and his native Puerto Rico, selling more tickets at Madison Square Garden than any other boxer in the 21st century. He's also had his share of PPV success: his 12-round loss to Mayweather in May '12 sold 1.5 million units, while generating 600,000 PPV buys for a revenge-fueled 10th round knockout win over Antonio Margarito five months prior in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden crowd.
With both fighters serving as the face of boxing rich nations in Puerto Rico and Mexico and given their styles, lofty expectations are being placed on this event.
"I'm confident this fight will sell more than 1.5 million Pay-Per-View buys," de la Hoya stated.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox