No, Pay Per View Boxing Isn’t Dead
By: Sean Crose
If you pay any attention to the sport of boxing these days, you undoubtedly hear it all the time – the pay per view model is dead. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what that assertion means. Are those who state it saying pay per view in and of itself is dead? One look at the UFCs pay per view numbers recently indicates that clearly isn’t the case. Are they saying that pay per view is dead as it pertains to boxing? Frankly, dead seems to be a strong word, since the sport is now going through the post Floyd-Manny blues.
Perhaps they mean that pay per view boxing cards, as presented, will no longer bring in the big numbers. That may be true, I suppose, though it’s hard to be certain when the sport’s current “top name,” Canelo Alvarez, is choosing to face the likes of Liam Smith over Gennady Golovkin. Here, I think, is the reality of the situation: the sport’s in a rut as far as casual interest is concerned. What I mean by this, of course, is that people who make pay per views huge successes are generally not big fight fans. They’re people who don’t exist outside the margins, as we do. They exist in general America, like their major sporting events like the Super Bowl and Final Four, and will only purchase a boxing match if it’s “the thing to do.”
It would be wrong to call such people shallow, however. They just need their interest peaked before they jump into boxing’s treacherous pond. And right now there’s nothing inviting about those murky waters. In order for boxing pay per view to again earn a seven figure buy rate, the sport has to do two distinct things. The first is erase the collective cultural memory of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight of 2015 that drew in tons of viewers and then arguably put many of them to sleep.
The sport also has to come up with some intriguing fighters. At the moment, Canelo appeals to a huge, but limited, fan base, though not much else. Golovkin is monstrous and progressing nicely in the popularity department, but still has quite a long way to go. Pacquiao is still fighting (as is evidenced by his match this weekend against Jessie Vargas) but the whole Mayweather thing has taken a lot of bloom off that rose. To be sure, the man’s ring career now – fairly or not – smacks of been there/done that.
On a shocking and, undoubtedly to many, off-putting side note, Tyson Fury had the kind of obnoxious yet intriguing personality that’s drawn the general public to boxing since John L Sullivan grew a handlebar moustache back in the day. Fury has sense fallen from on high, however, due to drug use and emotional issues.
The question of who will eventually take the pay per view reins, then, is entirely up in the air.