If a fight fan wanted to see how controversy sells fights, they wouldn't have to travel back to Louis vs. Schmeling or Ali vs. Frazier to do so.
Dec. 3 of last year produced a well-promoted grudge fight between Miguel Cotto (37-3, 30 KO) and Antonio Margarito (38-8-1, 27 KO) in front of a sold-out crowd in Madison Square Garden.
The pay-per-view sold over 600,000 buys. Cotto is known, but he's far from the household names that Mayweather and Pacquiao have become.
Margarito is only known to casual fans as the man who beat Cotto and then got caught with plaster in his gloves against Shane Mosley (46-8-1, 39 KO).
Their promoters used this knowledge to their advantage to make millions.
All of sudden, Cotto's first loss was put under a microscope. Margarito was painted as a plaster-using, villain, and Cotto was portrayed as the Puerto Rican hero looking for revenge and redemption.
When given their own documentary segment in HBO's critically acclaimed 24/7 series, as well as other fight-hype segments like HBO's Face Off, Cotto-Margarito II became a smash.
Audiences race toward stories that can be latched on to. They cheer when a kid from the slums beats the odds and boo the cocky guy who makes it look easy.
Haye vs. Chisora has a story. One guy is an agitator (Haye), and the other is a fighter who wants nothing more than to shut the agitator up.
Audience, on your mark.