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Some Fights Just Don’t Belong On Pay Per View

Posted on 01/10/2014

By Sean Crose

Would someone please explain why a Saul Canelo Alvarez–Alfredo Angulo matchup belongs on pay-per-view? Alvarez was far from impressive in his last pay per view outing and Angulo was bested by Erislandy Lara last June. Seriously, is this fight worth between fifty and one hundred dollars to watch on television?

Let’s take this even further. Why in the world would anyone want to pay the price of, oh, six movie tickets, to see Floyd Mayweather fight Amir Khan? Or Sergio Martinez fight Miguel Cotto? These are not major fights, people. And pay per view is supposed to be for major fights. Or at least that’s how it was once upon a time.

Now, it seems, purchasing bouts on pay per view is the only way fans can see boxing’s top stars in action. Don’t credit me with that kernel of wisdom, by the way. Credit writer Steve Kim, who’s recently argued as much in a piece for Sports On Earth. Kim’s article, titled “It’s Gonna Cost You,” questions the validity of some of 2014s upcoming pay per view events – especially those where opposition has yet to be found for the talent.

“The business of boxing,” Kim argues, “is telling its beleaguered loyalists to take out another mortgage on the house to see the superstars of the sport ply their trade against a bunch of interchangeable parts.”

Kim’s right. Yet there’s something even more maddening afloat here and that’s the fact that many, if not all, of these upcoming matches belong on HBO or Showtime. Pay per view fights should, at the very least, answer a question that’s buzzing throughout the boxing world (all the better if it extends beyond).
Yet I know of no one who really wants to know if Alvarez can best Angulo. No one.

Good, exciting matchups between high end fighters, matchups like, say Alvarez-Angulo, or Martinez-Cotto, are custom made for premium cable channels. They’re upscale bouts that fall short of being blockbusters. Showtime had it right when it transferred its Broner-Madiana match over to its cable wing. Who could argue that the accessibility of that match didn’t add to its overall popularity? Boxing is arguably back on the rise for the first time in ages. The powers that be should want to keep the momentum going.

As for boxing’s premiere names, well, why can’t they have their tune-ups on cable while saving their feature attractions for pay-per-view? Pacquiao became hot again after defeating Rios in Macau last November, true. But just imagine how much hotter he’d be if that match had taken place where it should have, on HBO?

Money is obviously the issue here, but promoters and fighters need to start realizing money is an issue with fans, too. Look, the bottom line is this: pay per view fights can be fun. Lots of fun. You can throw a party or even have a party watching them by yourself, because the bouts are hyped up to be bigger than life events – just like the Superbowl is.

Unlike the Superbowl, however, many pay per view fights just aren’t that meaningful any more. And therein lies the problem. No one would complain about a plethora of upcoming pay per view matches if those matches were legitimately worth their price. Pacquiao-Mayweather. Martinez-Golovkin. Even Stevensen-Kovalev. Those are bouts to make a fan open up the wallet. Alvarez-Angulo? Mayweather-Khan? Eh.

If boxing’s current crop of top promoters are so concerned about revenue, they should start thinking about all those potential fans that are out there. Placing well hyped, A-list fights on premium cable could really help lure them in. I don’t know about you, but I’d be happy to invite a friend who isn’t a boxing fan over to watch Alvarez battle Angulo.

Just so long as they’re fighting on Showtime.

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