By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Miguel Cotto hasn’t fought in Texas since March 2001, but boxing fans there have been receptive to his return.
Michael Yormark, Roc Nation’s president and chief of branding and strategy, said Wednesday that 50 percent of the tickets available to the Cotto-James Kirkland fight February 25 in Frisco, Texas, have been sold. That would mean roughly 6,000 tickets have been purchased for the event since going on sale December 22, because The Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility, can accommodate at least 12,000 fans for boxing.
“As I mentioned earlier, it’s all about entertainment, and it’s all about value proposition,” said Yormark, who works for the Jay Z-owned company that promotes Cotto. “We know that people wanna see this fight. The local marketplace is telling us that. We have sold over 50 percent of our tickets during the holidays. Now typically, as you know, people typically don’t buy tickets over the holiday.
“But we have a great partner in Jerry Jones and the Cowboys, who have been really promoting this fight very aggressively. And we’ve sold over 50 percent of the inventory during the holidays, with seven weeks to go. So people are telling us they wanna see this fight, they wanna see this brawl, they wanna see this action.”
Tickets to Cotto-Kirkland, The Ford Center at The Star’s first boxing event, are priced affordably ($29-$304). The pay-per-view price for the four-fight telecast – $49.95 in Standard Definition and $59.95 in High Definition – also is lower than most boxing pay-per-view events.
Yorkmark and Peter Nelson, executive vice president for HBO Sports, believe the positive box-office response to the junior middleweight match between Puerto Rico’s Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) and Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs), of Austin, Texas, is an indication that the show will perform reasonably well on pay-per-view, despite intense criticism from fans and media for deciding to televise it on that platform.
There could be a significant correlation between box-office and pay-per-view success for Cotto-Kirkland. However, Cotto’s middleweight title fight against Sergio Martinez drew a capacity crowd of 21,090 to Madison Square Garden in June 2014, yet produced a disappointing 315,000 buys.
Nevertheless, Yormark is certain Cotto-Kirkland is a fight fans will pay extra to watch on television.
“From the opening bell, again, you’re gonna see action,” Yormark said. “That’s what this fight is all about. It’s gonna be a brawl. For as long as it lasts, it’s going to be a brawl. And whoever wins this fight will move on to a huge fight in 2017. So there’s a lot at stake here. There’s a lot at stake.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.