Deontay Wilder’s latest performance in the ring was yet another knockout. How well he performed at the box office, however, is a matter to be decided by boxing’s unofficial judges. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
Multiple industry sources have informed BoxingScene.com that the Nov. 23 Fox Sports four-fight Pay-Per-View telecast—topped by Wilder’s repeat knockout win over Luis Ortiz—from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas will land just north of 275,000 units sold in domestic sales. The most generous estimates have the event falling shy of 300,000, although performing considerably better than previous and largely unconfirmed rumors regarding the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC)-branded event.
The figure places PPV revenue at roughly $21 million in addition to what was produced at the live gate—with those figures expected to be released in the coming days—along with international PPV sales.
The heavyweight headliner in Las Vegas saw Wilder rally from a considerable scorecard deficit to score a highlight reel, one-punch 7th round knockout of Miami’s Ortiz (31-2, 26KOs; 2NCs) in their heavyweight title fight rematch. The bout came nearly 21 months after their memorable first meet, where Wilder stopped the Cuban southpaw in the 10th round of their March 2018 Showtime-televised headliner in Brooklyn, New Year, which peaked at 1.2 million viewers.
Alabama’s Wilder (42-0-1, 41KOs) has consistently served as a reliable television draw, playing to favorable ratings on Showtime, NBC and Fox. His place in the PPV market remains a work in progress, as the rematch with Ortiz marked just his second career headliner in that medium. The reported figure for this event marks a slight decline from his PPV debut, as his 12-round draw with England’s Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20KOs) sold a reported 325,000 units atop the Showtime-distributed four-fight event from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Should the estimated figure hold, it will track comparatively similar to Fox Sports’ previous PPV outing in September, when unbeaten Errol Spence edged Shawn Porter in their welterweight title unification bout in Los Angeles, California.
Final figures for Spence-Porter were not released by Fox Sports nor event handlers, nor will be the case for this event. Representatives from Fox Sports and PBC politely declined comment to BoxingScene.com, as neither platform makes it a habit to discuss PPV numbers.
The aforementioned show marked the first PPV main event for Ortiz, who appeared on the undercard of Wilder-Fury in scoring a 10th round stoppage of Travis Kauffman. The feat was part of a three-fight win streak for the 40-year old Cuban export in between title challenges versus Wilder, who registered the 10th successful defense of the title he collected in a Jan. 2015 points win over Bermane Stiverne.
Wilder knocked out Stiverne in the 1st round of their Nov. 2017 rematch and is now 2-0 (2KOs) in heavyweight sequels. It’s a trend he surely hopes to continue for his next ring adventure, as Wilder and Fury are on course to once again collide on Feb. 22, 2020.
Fury also boasts a perfect knockout-to-win ratio, having stopped veteran contender Derek Chisora in the 10th round of their Nov. 2014 rematch, more than three years after outpointing his countryman in July 2011.
Las Vegas’ MGM Grand is targeted as the frontrunner to land Wilder-Fury II which will be distributed by Fox Sports and ESPN in a rare and historic business venture.
Fury signed with ESPN+ and Top Rank earlier this year, doing so in a drastic shift from previous talks of a rematch with Wilder which was due to take place this past May. Instead came a building period for both heavyweights. Wilder moved forward with a mandatory title defense, annihilating Dominic Breazeale in one round, in a May 18 headliner at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center which served as the most watched Showtime-televised bout of 2019.
Fury has fought twice on ESPN+, both time in Las Vegas and moving the needle in terms of streaming subscriptions (although ESPN executives have declined to release final numbers). The unbeaten heavyweight—who trumped Wladimir Klitschko in Nov. 2015 to claim the World heavyweight championship, but who followed with a 30-plus month hiatus—trounced Germany’s Tom Schwarz in two rounds this past June at MGM Grand and survived a hellacious cut to outpoint Sweden’s Otto Wallin this past September at T-Mobile Arena.
Both Wilder and Fury aggressively promoted their Vegas adventures, making the media rounds and playing to excellent network ratings. Shoulder programming for Wilder-Ortiz II established record ratings for Fox Sports, which along with ESPN will put together a marketing strategy for Wilder-Fury II including extensive coverage towards the end of the National Football League (NFL) regular season and throughout the postseason. Such coverage will extend to and through Super Bowl LIV (54), which airs Feb. 2 live in primetime on Fox.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox