By Ivan G. Goldman
The dull shadow cast by the match last Saturday between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez promises to subtract pay-per-view buys from the Timothy Bradley-versus-Juan Manuel Marquez bout on Oct. 12 in Las Vegas.
Bradley-Marquez will probably be a better fight, but it will suffer from pay-per-view fatigue generated by last week’s not so scintillating event featuring a defensive-minded champion and a challenger who couldn’t hit him. The fact that one of the judges didn’t know how to score a fight is another negative factor reinforcing the general perception that boxing is a corrupt sport that leaves fans with buyer remorse. Golf may be dull, but at least tournament officials know how to keep score.
Three Big pay-per-view shows in the space of two months is also going to turn off potential buyers. There’s a limit to how much cash people are willing to spend on bringing events into their homes that cost extra dollars. Every time a pay-per-view match disappoints, it damages fight cards coming down the pike — as well as the sport itself. When boxing gives you exciting champions like Mike Tyson or Sugar Ray Leonard it thrives. When its top match-ups feature a champion who inspires yawns among the general public, it sinks.
The millions of dollars spent to market what turned out to be a disappointing spectacle makes potential buyers distrust future promises. Over the next couple weeks Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions will be bragging about all the money that came in from Mayweather-Alvarez, which, at $75 per high-def pop, was the most expensive pay-per-view boxing match in history. What they won’t tell you is that it left a negative residue that won’t go away soon.
Mayweather-versus-Oscar De La Hoya in 2007 generated the most pay-per-view buys in history – somewhere above 2.4 million, and it was a dull fight. Had it left fans breathless it probably wouldn’t have held the record this long. What it taught buyers is to be beware of buying fights.
Manny Pacquiao-versus-Brandon Rios on Nov. 23 out of Macau, China may also suffer from the inflated hype put out by “The One” event in the MGM Grand. As for the undercard last Saturday, we heard quite a bit in advance about the great match-up between junior welters Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse, but precious little about snore-mongering Ishe Smith-versus Carlos Molina, another match fans had to pay for. Once again, Smith ran until he grew tired, at which point he began to clinch and ultimately lost the split decision.
Mayweather, 45-0 (26 KOs), is a great fighter who’s developed an almost unbeatable strategy. Unfortunately he’s rarely in a good fight. His strategy is designed to allow him to cruise to dull victory, and even at the age of 36 he can follow it to perfection.
Bradley has himself put on some yawners, but in his last outing, challenged by sturdy Ruslan Provodnikov, he put on a phenomenal performance and kept his title. Marquez, in his last outing, kayoed Manny Pacquiao, one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, and certainly one of the best. There was never a dull moment in five and a-half rounds.
Mayweather was clearly delighted to see Marquez kayo Pacquiao because it allowed him to say Pacquiao was beneath him as an opponent. Yet if Pacquiao looks good against hard-charging Rios, Pacquiao-Mayweather remains the biggest-money fight out there. The fact that “Money” Mayweather shrinks from it doesn’t speak well for his eagerness to take on a challenge.
Floyd chose Canelo not because he wanted fans to see a good fight but because Canelo drew 40,000 fans to see him take on Austin Trout in San Antonio. It was a business decision. Least risk to his title for the most gain to his net worth.
Meanwhile, the judge who scored it a draw for what looked very much like a 120-108 shutout for Mayweather, C.J. Ross, finally bowed to pressure and stepped away from her job, but not before her boss, Keith Kizer, actually defended her score. Kizer’s imbecilic response may have cost the sport another million fans.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in June 2013 by Potomac Books. It can be purchased here.