By Steve Kim: In five weeks the most highly-anticipated pay-per-view card of 2013 takes place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas when Floyd Mayweather faces Saul Alvarez. What has added to the anticipation of this event is the addition of Lucas Matthysse’s battle versus Danny Garcia, a fight that could easily headline on Showtime on its own merits. Whoever was waffling on purchasing “The One,” is now probably off the fence. They will be forking over their hard earned money for this show.
That said, Jim P. sent me this email chiming in on the issue of pay-per-views and their undercards that I thought was both topical and humorous...
Hi Steve, I know there’s always discussion about how boxing should put on “loaded” PPV cards. But to me, it’s not very interesting to discuss fantasy cards that wouldn’t happen in a million years. Yes, we’d all love to see Mayweather vs. [Manny] Pacquiao with Klitschko vs. Klitschko and Matthysse vs. [Marcos] Maidana on the undercard. But COME ON; let’s be realistic. I would like your opinion on what would constitute a “dream” PPV card but you have to follow the “unwritten rules” of boxing right now:
1. Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions will NOT work together.
2. GBP fighters will NOT fight on HBO Pay-Per-Views
3. A huge-money main event will NOT have a huge-money undercard (okay, I actually started writing this before Garcia-Matthysse got signed. But that’s the exception).
4. Intangibles (Men like [Miguel] Cotto and [Amir] Khan most likely won’t appear on an undercard;
Mayweather won’t fight [Sergio] Martinez or [Gennady] Golovkin any time soon, etc.).
Also the PPV cards must have at least four fights and be able to conceivably take place this or next year. It’s actually fun when you play by the rules, like putting a puzzle together. It also makes you realize how many good match-ups are possible. Here are my dream PPV cards (main event on top):
September 14th (Las Vegas):
“Canelo” Alvarez vs. Floyd Mayweather
Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse
Austin Trout vs. Alfredo Angulo
Erislandy Lara vs. Gabe Rosado
Deontay Wilder vs. Johnathon Banks
October 14th (Las Vegas):
Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez
Mikey Garcia vs. Rocky Martinez
Orlando Salido vs. Orlando Cruz (not too exciting but already signed)
Antonio DeMarco vs. Juan Carlos Burgos
Carlos Abregu vs. Willie Nelson
November 23rd (Macao):
Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios
Zou Shiming vs. TBA (not a “dream” match but you know Shiming HAS to be on this card)
Nonito Donaire vs. Vic Darchinyan II
Brian Viloria vs. Hernan Marquez/Juan Estrada II
Takashi Uchiyama vs. Diego Magdaleno or Martinez (if Rocky doesn’t fight in October)
Magdaleno vs. Takashi Miura
Pro debut of Ryota Murata
“HBO PPV Presents F--K WORLD PEACE”:
Andre Ward vs. Carl Froch II
Gennady Golovkin vs. Dmitry Pirog
Mikkel Kessler vs. Thomas Oosthuizen
Bermane Stiverne vs. Tony Thompson
Ricky Burns vs. Nihito Arakawa
“Golden Boy Promotions Presents KNOCKED OUT KINGS”:
Amir Khan vs. Victor Ortiz
Andre Berto vs. Josesito Lopez
Rafael Marquez vs. Daniel Ponce de Leon
Diego Chaves vs. Zab Judah
Steve Cunningham vs. Seth Mitchell
“Top Rank Presents THIS TIME, HE ACTUALLY TRAINED”:
Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez II
Gennady Golovkin vs. Martin Murray
Mikey Garcia vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa
Raymundo Beltran vs. Rocky Martinez II
“Golden Boy Promotions Presents FLUSH YOUR MONEY DOWN THIS TOILET”:
Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana
Abner Mares vs. Leo Santa Cruz
Keith Thurman vs. Robert Guerrero
Roman Gonzales vs. Ivan Morales
“Golden Boy Promotions Presents PH--KIN’ PHILLY, BRO”:
Bernard Hopkins vs. Sergey Kovalev
Danny Garcia vs. Ruslan Provodnikov
Steve Cunningham vs. Seth Mitchell
Bryant Jennings vs. Tony Thompson
Hank Lundy vs. John Molina II
“Golden Boy Promotions Presents WAR-CLAYS CENTER”:
Peter Quillin vs. Curtis Stevens
Zab Judah vs. Lamont Peterson
Keith Thurman vs. Paulie Malignaggi
Danny Jacobs vs. Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam
And finally... “Golden Boy Promotions presents MONOTONOUS 12-ROUND DECISION KINGS”
(guaranteed to set a PPV record - for viewers shooting themselves in the face):
Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson III
Paulie Malignaggi vs. Devon Alexander
Miguel Vazquez vs. Richar Abril
Ishe Smith vs. Carlos Molina
Good stuff, Jim. Now some of the fights you mentioned (like Mikey Garcia-Rocky Martinez and Nonito Donaire-Vic Darchinyan) are being discussed for HBO in November. But the spirit of your email stands. And you’re right on the guidelines you set. It’s easy to make “fantasy cards” but generally, that’s what they are: fantasy. If you look at the pay-per-view template that has been in place during the “Cold War” era, generally both Golden Boy and Top Rank follow these rules.
And a big factor in formulating a pay-per-view undercard that too many fans don’t take into account is these shows have budgets that must be adhered to. Unlike cards on the premium cable networks, the promoters on these events are on the hook financially and go without the safety net of a television license fee. So many times, the most affordable (i.e. cheapest) fights are thrown on these cards. As you mentioned, Jim, the Matthysse-Garcia fight is an anomaly.
There’s also this reality (which a lot of hardcore fans hate to hear): on the really big pay-per-view shows, it’s the main event that accounts for about 99.8793 percent of the buys. Don’t believe me? Well, look at the biggest numbers ever put up by Oscar De la Hoya during his heyday. Those undercards had a lot of Butterbean and Mia St. John on them. In fact, there is a train of thought in the boxing business that if you are counting on undercard fights to help sell your main event - you’ve got the wrong main event.
Think about it; can you tell me any of the undercard bouts that took place on the Mayweather-De la Hoya pay-per-view? (the highest grossing pay-per-view card of all-time) For the record, it was the forgettable affair between Rocky Juarez and Jose Hernandez immediately preceding that night’s main event. That said, it still did right around 2.5 million buys.
Unfortunately, the days of Don King stacking his undercard bouts with highly anticipated bouts (not just one-sided house bouts with world titles attached to them) are gone. I distinctly remember when match-ups like Simon Brown-Maurice Blocker and Azumah Nelson-Jeff Fenech I were on Mike Tyson promotions. And to me, what “Illmatic” by Nas or “Thriller” by Michael Jackson were to albums, “Revenge: the Rematches” were to pay-per-view shows.
Now I like to think of myself as a realist in regard to this stuff. When it comes to filling out a pay-per-view line-up, my expectations are pretty simple: other than the main event, just give me one fight that would at least be worthy of headlining a “Boxing After Dark” telecast. Also, give me a fight in which a good, young titlist gets to showcase his skills. Think Leo Santa Cruz, who has been a part of a couple of undercards and played to rave reviews as he beat up on faded veterans. Sometimes just seeing a guy like Santa Cruz bludgeon someone can be quite entertaining. Then showcase a legitimate prospect on the way up in a bit of a step-up fight, let’s say from Golden Boy’s roster, a guy like Errol Spence. From Top Rank, either Oscar Valdez or Felix Verdejo.
Do that and I’m fine. Just don’t shove Yuri Foreman down everyone’s throats (but then, there is something to be said about fights like this, which I’ve dubbed “Beer Line/Restroom Fights.” It’s during these long, drawn-out affairs when you either get in one line for a beer or another to get it out of your system).
Perhaps it is shortsighted for boxing on its biggest nights to serve up Spam before the night’s main entree. Hopefully, what Golden Boy and Mayweather Promotions are doing on September 14th is the start of a new trend in boxing.
August 8, 2013