By Jake Donovan
It was a rematch that wasn’t in high demand. The supporting cast paled miserably—on paper—in comparison to the undercard for the first fight in May. A sea of bad publicity preceded a Pay-Per-View show that demanded upwards of $75 from subscribers wishing to watch in High Definition.
Yet the sequel between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana managed to surpass their more anticipated bout in May in becoming the most watched PPV event of 2014.
Cable and satellite tracking trends are suggesting a projection of 925,000 units sold for the September 13 show, in which Mayweather (47-0, 26KOs) scored a unanimous decision to remain lineal champion at both welterweight and super welterweight. The bout was less competitive than the first fight in May, which many have called the toughest of Mayweather’s Hall of Fame career.
Representatives from Showtime declined comment when asked for confirmation of the projected total. The network announced following Mayweather-Maidana I that it would no longer release pay-per-view totals unless an event produced record-breaking or earth shattering numbers.
The 925,000 projection would mark an improvement of at least 25,000 buys from the May 3 event, which—while never truly confirmed—racked up in the neighborhood of 900,000 buys.
News of the projected numbers was first reported by Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports.
Despite the fact that the May card carried greater star power, two key areas are believed to have played a part in the increase in viewership for the rematch: the surprisingly competitive nature of the first fight, and the presence of prominent Mexican fighters on the undercard.
The May 3 event saw Adrien Broner and Amir Khan appear in separate supporting bouts. The closest the show carried to a Mexican presence was Carlos Molina, a relatively obscure super lightweight whom Broner outpointed over 10 rounds—and disrespected, along with the Mexican community, after the fight, though soon thereafter apologizing for his off-the-cuff remarks.
Undercard fights for the September 13 show saw the likes of Leo Santa Cruz, Miguel Vazquez, Alfredo Angulo and Humberto Soto in separate bouts. Santa Cruz—easily the most popular of the bunch—had an easy night’s work, stopping former sparring partner Manuel Roman in two rounds. Soto earned a career-resurrecting win with a 10-round decision over John Molina Jr., in a bout that appeared on the SHOWTIME ‘Freeview’ prior to the pay-per-view telecast.
Things didn’t go as well for Angulo and Vazquez, both dropping decisions on the PPV undercard. Angulo was dropped and humbled in a 10-round points loss to James de la Rosa, while Vazquez—making his debut under the Al Haymon advisory banner—dropped a debated split decision to Mickey Bey, thus ending his lengthy title reign.
Representatives from DISH Network—statistically boasting the greatest Latino subscriber base among all satellite providers—indicated an increase of 20% in subscribers for the September rematch. AT&T U-Verse claimed a similar increase, while DirecTV—the largest satellite provider in the United States—also saw a spike in numbers.
Numbers from cable providers have not yet been finalized, though the indication is that the event is tracking similarly to that of the first fight.
That the fight becomes the best-selling boxing event of 2014 spits in the face of logic, or perhaps suggests that—in addition to the aforementioned contributing factors—bad publicity is still publicity.
For reasons only his team can explain, Mayweather was permitted to speak on the subject of domestic violence to where many in mainstream media were calling for a boycott of the event. Comments on the circumstances surrounding Ray Rice’s year-long suspension from the NFL remained in headlines throughout Fight Week, and an interview conducted with CNN’s Rachel Nichols further highlighted Mayweather’s history of domestic violence, leaving the unbeaten fighter to simply remark that such charges were hearsay and lacked visual evidence.
Despite the false claims from fans threatening a boycott, it all added up to yet another chart topping event for Mayweather.
However profits shook out from the first fight, it would have to be believed there is a little bit more to be passed around for the rematch. Maidana (35-5, 31KOs) saw his guaranteed pay doubled, making $3 million for his second shot at Mayweather, after earning a reported $1.5 million for the first fight.
Mayweather once again earned $32 million for the fight, matching his guaranteed payday from the May 3 show. This card marked Mayweather Promotions’ first as a leading—and licensed promoter—for his pay-per-view events. Golden Boy Promotions served as the lead promoter for his past nine fights, this time along for the ride as a co-promoter.
The undercard for the September 13 event carried a price tag in the vicinity of $2 million, half of what was spent on the May 3 show, with Broner and Khan both earning well over $1 million a piece for their respective undercard appearances.
Mayweather now has the two highest grossing pay-per-view events of 2014. The only other fighter to come close to his continued drawing power happens to be the one fighter the boxing world has forever wanted him to face in the ring, Manny Pacquiao. The reigning welterweight titlist and worldwide superstar returned to the title picture with a revenge win over Tim Bradley this past April. Their rematch generated a reported 750,000 pay-per-view units sold, falling short of industry expectations that hoped for an improvement on their first fight, which drew closer to 900,000 buys.
Both fighters have seen a decrease in their numbers in recent years, an industry-wide suggestion that fans have grown tired of contributing to their events without the promise of an eventual head-on collision. The lone exception from the past two years happens to be the highest-grossing event of all time, as Mayweather’s win over Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez—easily the most popular active fighter in Mexico—generated 2.2 million pay-per-view buys and $150 million in PPV revenue. The totals come in addition to the record-breaking live gate of more than $20 million and the millions more generated in sponsorship, closed circuit and movie theatre screening sales.
Overall, the bout was the fourth of a six-fight pact with Showtime for Mayweather, who joined the network in early 2013 after more than 14 years with rival network HBO. The first fight under the new contract came last May, when Mayweather outpointed Robert Guerrero in a show that produced respectable but underwhelming numbers in respect to his popularity and guaranteed purses.
Showtime will present an exclusive rebroadcast of the rematch—along with Santa Cruz’ win over Roman—this Saturday, beginning at 9PM ET/PT. The replay will be immediately followed by the premiere of All Access: Mayweather vs. Maidana II Epilogue, which will chronicle fight night and its immediate aftermath.
A similar segment dedicated to Mayweather-Alvarez scored a Sports Emmy, the only boxing program to earn an award during the ceremony held this past May.
Mayweather plans to return to the ring next May, though has also hinted at possibly taking a year-long break from the ring and not fighting until next September.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox