Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather and junior middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez are still more than two months away from meeting in the ring, but they're already shattering records.
Tickets for their Sept. 14 megafight in Las Vegas sold out in the blink of an eye, and the fight has broken the all-time live-gate record for a boxing event.
Live-gate measures the total dollar amount of ticket sales after taking into account complimentary tickets given to sponsors, promoters and participants.
According to ESPN.com, the fight is guaranteed to generate at least $18.6 million dollars in total ticket sales. That's more than enough to supplant the 2007 bout between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya, which generated just over $18.4 million dollars.
Those are just the type of numbers that Showtime, who took a huge gamble by signing Mayweather to a big-money deal earlier this year, wants to see.
It’s a truly impressive haul and raises the question of whether or not this fight could challenge the holy grail of boxing records—pay-per-view buys.
De La Hoya vs. Mayweather holds the current record with over 2.4 million subscribers paying for their 2007 bout. Topping that number is an extremely tall order, and no recent fights have even come close.
Does Mayweather vs. Canelo have a chance of setting the all-time PPV buys record? Of course it has a chance, but it will be no easy task.
De La Hoya vs. Mayweather was the boxing equivalent of a perfect storm. The economy was still relatively good, and people were more willing to shell out cash for things they wouldn’t normally consider essential (such as $54.95 for a boxing PPV).
The fight itself featured a brash, undefeated fighter that had already developed a love-hate relationship with the fans. His opponent was an aging, but still dangerous, icon that had spent much of his career as the sport’s undisputed PPV king.
It also didn’t hurt that a fight featuring one of the most popular Mexican-American fighters in history took place on Cinco de Mayo.
It was the first sporting event to be featured on the new HBO show 24/7, which was designed specifically to hype the fight and give fans an inside look at the preparations of both fighters. At the time, 24/7 was a novel concept and extremely compelling television. But today it has become just a normal part of the pre-fight hype.
So given all those circumstances, does Mayweather vs. Canelo hold any shot of breaking the record?
This matchup certainly has a few things going for it.
If anything, Floyd Mayweather is even more loved and hated now than he was back in 2007. That equals even more people willing to shell out money to see him fight on PPV in the hopes of either another dominant performance or finally seeing his mouth shut.
Canelo also compares favorably to De La Hoya in terms of marketability.
The 22-year-old is Mexican boxing’s equivalent of a rock star. He draws huge crowds wherever he goes and has already been labeled as his country’s next big boxing sensation. When you’re talking about a proud boxing nation like Mexico, that’s no small deal.
Risk was another huge factor in selling Mayweather’s challenge of De La Hoya. “The Golden Boy” was by far the biggest name on Floyd’s resume to date, and he presented an elevated risk factor.
The bout marked the first time in his career that Floyd Mayweather would venture up to junior middleweight. That might not seem like a big deal today. But at the time, Mayweather had spent most of his career between junior lightweight and lightweight.
When measuring the level of risk associated with each of these two fights there’s no question that Canelo is the more dangerous opponent. Unlike De La Hoya, he’s a natural junior middleweight, and he will likely outweigh Mayweather by a considerable sum when they enter the ring.
He has the type of punching power, based on a vicious body attack, which De La Hoya would only have dreamed about during his career. And that’s a huge selling point in this fight—has Floyd Mayweather finally bitten off more than he can chew?
It’s a question that will definitely drive up PPV sales. Another factor that will drive sales is based on simple timing. The fight will take place on Mexican Independence Day Weekend, which is traditionally considered the peak time for major boxing events.
It’ll take a lot of things going right for Mayweather vs. Canelo to top 2.4 million PPV buys. But the storylines are certainly there for it to make a run. There is no other fight in boxing, save for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao circa three years ago, that even has a chance of coming close.
Will it break the record? Who knows? But it definitely has a shot.