Can Davis-Santa Cruz Successfully Jump The Pay Per View Hurdle?


By: Sean Crose

This Saturday’s Gervonta Davis – Leo Santa Cruz fight is unquestionably a major event in the sport of boxing. Davis, a lightning fast, power punching dynamo, is being groomed as the next Floyd Mayweather. Santa Cruz, on the other hand, has always been a man who has let his fists do the talking – and they’ve spoken quite well. He’s only lost a single bout, one he avenged against Carl Frampton in a highly rollicking rematch. Davis remains undefeated, but he’s never met someone of Santa Cruz’ caliber before . Having faced and bested such men as Frampton and Abner Mares, Santa Cruz already knows what it’s like to be in the big show.

This bout, which will be for a lightweight, as well as a junior lightweight, title is a classic tale of a rising star against an established star, the future versus a part of the past still hoping to remain present. It’s easy to see Davis winning. He’s younger, and seemingly stronger than his foe. Again, though, Santa Cruz may have forgotten more about high level fights than Davis has yet to learn. There’s no doubt – this is an interesting matchup. Is it pay per view worthy, though?

Historically, boxing broadcasts with price tags – be they pay per view or closed circuit bouts – were generally creme de la creme affairs. One or two of the most popular boxers in the game would get together for a fight of such high stakes that a tacked on cost seemed to be justified for the price of viewing. Think Ali-Frazier. Or Leonard-Duran. Or Holmes-Cooney. Or Hagler-Hearns. Or Tyson-Spinks. In recent years, of course, the trend has changed. Where million buy pay per views used to be somewhat common, now they’re a rarity. That’s because fans are now charged for good fights instead of just super fights. And there’s a big difference between the two.

For instance, two weeks ago, Teofimo Lopez surprised a lot of people by besting pound for pound kingpin Vasyl Lomachenko. His victory wasn’t too much of a surprise, however, as many saw the fight as a battle between the two best lightweights in the entire world. Given the current environment, it’s easy to see how the match could have ended up on pay per view. It ended up on cable, however, and was rewarded with excellent ratings.

The forces behind the Davis-Santa Cruz card, which is being presented by Showtime and Premiere Boxing Champions, could be concerned that some might consider Lomachenko-Lopez a more prominent fight than Davis-Santa Cruz. Then again, both Davis and Santa Cruz have a reputation of drawing in viewers. Whether or not those viewers will be willing the pay this weekend is the question that will be answered soon enough.

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