Notebook: Canelo-Bivol pay-per-view numbers clock in well below expectations
My new weekly BetUS Boxing show debuts; weekend preview podcast; Joe Frazier art; Quick hits; Show and tell
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The fight between then-pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez and WBA light heavyweight world titlist Dmitry Bivol finished with a surprising result and a disappointing pay-per-view performance.
The fight at T-Mobile Arena on May 7 — the first-ever DAZN pay-per-view card — generated a total of approximately 520,000 buys in the United States, a source with direct knowledge of the figures told Fight Freaks Unite.
That total takes into account buys on all platforms — the DAZN app, satellite services, linear television and the non-DAZN streaming option on PPV.com. The exact PPV revenue is unclear because the event had two price points, $59.99 for DAZN subscribers on the app and $79.99 for non-DAZN subscribers on the other platforms.
Nonetheless, the total is a far cry from Alvarez’s historic 11th-round knockout of Caleb Plant in November to unify all four major belts and become the first-ever undisputed super middleweight champion. That fight, put on by Premier Boxing Champions on Showtime PPV, generated about 800,000 buys (and around $64 million in domestic PPV revenue) and was a profitable event for the organizers.
For his next fight, Alvarez, who faced Plant on a one-fight deal with PBC and Showtime, weighed a two-fight offer to stay with PBC/Showtime but instead opted to return to DAZN and promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing for a two-fight deal. It began with the Bivol fight, which can’t be declared a money loser yet because DAZN and Matchroom Boxing take the longer view of it being a two-fight deal. So, it will depend on how the next fight performs.
Alvarez’s options are to invoke his right to an immediate rematch with Bivol or to return to super middleweight and defend his crown in an already agreed to third fight with rival Gennadiy Golovkin, the unified middleweight titleholder, who would rise in weight. Given how poorly the Bivol pay-per-view performed relative to expectations and event costs it would seem likely that DAZN and Matchroom Boxing will press heavily for the GGG option, even if it is ultimately up to Alvarez.
One of the reasons for the weak performance of Canelo-Bivol was because Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs), 31, of Russia, while excellent fighter, has virtually no fan base, was a big underdog and brought very little to the promotion. Still, he scored the upset by outpointing Alvarez 115-133 on all three scorecards to retain his 175-pound title for the ninth time and knocking him from his perch as the pound-for-pound king.
Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs), 31, of Mexico, a four-division champion, was moving up to light heavyweight for the second time seeking to win a second world title in the division.
BetUS Boxing Show debut
Friday marked the debut of our weekly show brought to you by BetUS. TJ Rives and I will co-host the show each Friday live on YouTube and the BetUS website. We will preview the major weekend fights and offer our picks related to the BetUS odds. Please check it out and make sure to subscribe to the new YouTube channel for the show! Hope you enjoy. We had a lot of fun doing it.
Weekend preview podcast
The Big Fight Weekend preview podcast episode is now available! We discussed news of the week with my take on the implosion of the Ryan Garcia-Isaac Cruz lightweight elimination fight that was ordered by the WBC and then canceled, the extremely disappointing fight announcement for Jaime Munguia and the probable next fight for unified junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor. Then we previewed the three main events of the weekend: David Benavidez-David Lemieux on Showtime, Janibek Alimkhanuly-Danny Dignum on ESPN and Joshua Buatsi-Craig Richards on DAZN. Give it a listen, subscribe and enjoy!
Joe Frazier artwork
In 1971, shortly before Joe Frazier fought fellow heavyweight legend Muhammad Ali in their first epic fight — which Frazier won to retain the title in the single most anticipated fight in history — the late, great artist LeRoy Neiman, who was a big boxing fan and painted and drew many famous boxing pieces, did beautiful sketch of Frazier, writing underneath it “Undefeated Smokin’ Joe Frazier,” signing it and noting it was from 1971. Art collector Ingo Wegerich recently purchased the original drawing to add to his incredible collection of boxing art. He asked me to write a bit about Frazier and has added photos of the Neiman work and the text I wrote to his website. Take a minute and view the Frazier piece here: https://wegerich-fineart.com/en/portfolio/joe-frazier/. Also take a look at the amazing collection here: https://wegerich-fineart.com/en/artworks/.
Weights from Glendale, Arizona, for Saturday’s Premier Boxing Champions tripleheader on Showtime (10 p.m. ET): David Benavidez 166.5 pounds, David Lemieux 166.25 (for vacant WBC interim super middleweight title); Yoelvis Gomez 156.5, Jorge Cota 156.5; Luis Nunez 126, Jonathan Fierro 125.5.
Weights from Las Vegas for Saturday’s Top Rank card (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET): Janibek Alimkhanuly 160 pounds, Danny Dignum 159 (for vacant WBO interim middleweight title); Jamel Herring 135, Jamaine Ortiz 135; Tiger Johnson 142.4, Agustin Kucharski 143.2; Adam Lopez 126.8, William Encarnacion 126.2; Karlos Balderas 132, Ruben Cervera 130.8; Jessie Magdaleno 127.2, Edy Valencia Mercado 126.8; Duke Ragan 127.6, Victorino Gonzalez 127; Giovanni Cabrera 135.4, Elias Araujo 135.4; Charlie Sheehy 134.8, Burnell Jenkins 133.6; Kasir Goldston 141.6, Yaniel Alvarez 141.8. The Steven Nelson-Louis Rose light heavyweight fight was canceled. Nelson was 179.6 pounds — 6.6 over the 173-pound contract limit.
Weights from London for Saturday’s Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN (2 p.m. ET): Joshua Buatsi 174.75 pounds, Craig Richards 174.25 (WBA light heavyweight eliminator); Chantelle Cameron 140, 137.25 (for Cameron’s WBC/IBF women’s junior welterweight title); Alen Babic 208.25, Adam Balski 210.25; Ellie Scotney 121.5, Maria Cecilia Roman 121.5; Robbie Davies Jr. 139.75, Javier Molina 139.75; Cheavon Clarke 199, Paweil Martyniuk 196; Cyrus Pattinson 150, Dimitri Trenel 150; John Hedges 182.75, Robert Baltaru 181.25; Shiloh Defreitas 146, Iliyan Markov 146.
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced that he has signed bantamweight prospect Anthony Herrera (2-0, 2 KOs), 21, of Los Angeles, and that he will have his first fight of the deal June 10 (DAZN) on the undercard of the Hiroto Kyoguchi-Esteban Bermudez junior flyweight title fight in Guadalajara, Mexico. Herrera, who is trained and managed by Manny Robes, turned pro in November and has his first two bouts on Matchroom undercards, but was not yet under contract. For his first fight under the promotional deal he will face Kennyn Valenzuela (5-2, 4 KOs), 21, of Mexico, in his first six rounder. “Matchroom was my first choice out of all the promoters,” Herrera said. “Eddie keeps his fighters very active. … My goals for 2022 would be to expand my following and fan base, fight on the biggest cards of the year, dominate in every fight, and become prospect of the year for 2022.”
Show and tell
When Bernard Hopkins challenged Jean Pascal for his WBC and lineal light heavyweight title in their first fight they fought to an unsatisfying majority draw. So, there was a rematch five months later in a huge fight in Pascal’s hometown of Montreal. It was the talk of the city during fight. I was ringside at the Bell Centre, where everybody was cheering for Pascal. It was a phenomenal atmosphere. Hopkins was the underdog but was able to use every bit of his experience and guile to outbox, outfight and frustrate his much younger opponent in a bout that had more action than most expected. In an unforgettable moment, Hopkins, to show he was still fresh and looking to embarrass his much younger foe, began doing push-ups in the ring just before the opening bell of the seventh round. Pascal finished strong but it was not enough as Hopkins won a unanimous decision, 116-112, 115-114 and 115-113, to take Pascal’s title and, at age 46, break heavyweight legend George Foreman’s record as the oldest fighter to win a world title.
The fight was on May 21, 2011 — 11 years ago on Saturday. Here is a site poster and an extremely limited HBO poster in my collection. Also, after the post-fight news conference I went out with Hopkins, members of his team and some folks from Golden Boy Promotions. We found a place still open very late that night and Hopkins, who was meticulous about his diet even when not training, had the kitchen make him pasta and steamed broccoli while everyone else had stuff like chicken wings and pizza. But Hopkins eventually succumbed and celebrated his historic victory by devouring a giant piece of caramel cheesecake, his one dessert vice if there is one. I was across the table from BHop and snapped the photo below as evidence of this rare activity. You can actually see caramel dripping from the fork.
Canelo-Bivol photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing; Benavidez-Lemieux photo: Esther Lin/Showtime; Alimkhanuly-Dignum photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
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