Break out the MasterCard
As we head into the final week of 2016, the boxing schedule for the upcoming year is already being formulated and, it has to be said, a strong slate of fights is already on the docket. Showtime announced an attractive lineup of fights for the first quarter of 2017. As for HBO, well…more on that in another column. However, on a related note, there are fights that have been made official or bandied about that feature some of the bigger names in the sport.
And to watch them all, well…you’d better break out the MasterCard.
These bouts will all be on pay-per-view and will cost you in the neighborhood of $70 a pop.
Yeah, despite a marked decline in this industry since May 2, 2015 (y’ know the date of the fight that will not be mentioned here), the reality is pay-per-view is still a necessary evil. Either it’s the most lucrative platform economically or sometimes it’s used as a last option when a network doesn’t want to allocate any money from its yearly budget to showcase an event and the promotional firm has no other choice.
As always, buyer beware. Here’s a look ahead to the pay-per-view schedule and what could soon be added to it.
– Feb. 25: Miguel Cotto vs. James Kirkland (Ford Center at The Star, Frisco, Texas): Now this is actually an unprecedented pay-per-view in that both Cotto and Kirkland come into this event at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility (cue Allen Iverson) not having fought in the previous year (and suffered losses prior, as Ernie Gabion, from Everlast, reminded me on Twitter). Both Cotto and Kirkland were dormant in 2016. It’s a fight that should be sponsored by WD-40. Cotto hasn’t been in the ring since November 2015, when he lost his middleweight title to Saul Alvarez, while Kirkland hasn’t fought since May of 2015, when he was bludgeoned by “Canelo” in Houston.
Many are bemoaning this fight being on pay-per-view – and while you can certainly question HBO for not being a part of Manny Pacquiao’s last event but part of this one – the reality is, as an HBO subscriber (of which I am), I’d much rather have this on pay-per-view rather than taking a huge chunk out of the HBO Sports budget. In many ways, pay-per-view is the most democratic thing: If you like a particular fight or event, you decide to purchase it. If you don’t, well, you pass on it. But, as an HBO subscriber, I don’t want any of those funds that should be allocated for “World Championship Boxing” and “Boxing After Dark” (remember that?) to be used for Cotto’s annuity.
The word in the industry is Cotto’s guarantee is in the $10 million dollar-plus range as Roc Nation Sports signed more reckless deals than Daniel Snyder did with old past-their-primes free agents during his early years as the Washington Redskins owner. So why is HBO even associating with this promotion? Well, it may have something to do with keeping cordial relations with the head of Roc Nation and his wife.
That’s all well and good but it seems like the SS Roc Nation. which has hit more icebergs than the Titanic, during its voyage into the murky waters of boxing, will be swimming in the Red Sea with this one.
This fight, however, might actually be entertaining, given that Kirkland (who has mastered the art of being the modern day Ricardo Mayorga) is back with Ann Wolfe and generally goes out on his shield. The good news is the HBO budget will not be used on this fight and we might get a Jay Z and Beyonce concert out of it down the line.
Meanwhile, you guys ready for some Guillermo Rigondeaux and Yandel on the undercard?
– March 18: Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs (Madison Square Garden, New York): In a perfect world, a match-up like this would be on regular HBO but economics and the need to be “fair” to Daniel Jacobs and satisfy his role as Golovkin’s latest middleweight victim dictated this fight be pay-per-view.
– April TBA: Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev II (?, TBA): OK, this much is known: There is a rematch clause for this bout, held by Main Events after Ward won in controversial and disputed fashion back on Nov. 19. But Ward – who’s never been particularly beholden to binding agreements – has made it clear that, unless his financial needs are met for the second go-round, he will retire. (Promise?)
Well, the problem is, under his deal with the fine folks at Roc Nation, Ward was guaranteed $5 million for the initial meeting with Kovalev (whose listed purse was half that amount). That’s great for the “Son of God” but not for the bottom line of RNS considering the pay-per-view didn’t come come close to cracking 200,000 buys.
So will there be a return bout? Will there be litigation?
Somewhere up there Dan Goossen is chuckling.
– May 6: Saul Alvarez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (?, TBA): OK, this is being talked about and not finalized (yet) but where there’s smoke, there is fire and the talks between the two sides are absolutely real. Now, while Al Haymon is representing Chavez Jr., recent history has shown that, if the money is good enough and his clients demand certain events be consummated (i.e. Amir Khan and Danny Jacobs), deals will be made.
While some may roll their eyes at this fight (and yeah, it’s understandable) it would be huge at the box-office and would do significant pay-per-view numbers. For the time being, on dates like Cinco de Mayo Weekend, any fights involving Canelo will be pay-per-view. In this instance (should this become a reality) another marquee Mexican attraction is facing him. You can debate the actual merits of this match-up but there’s no denying just how big of an event this fight would be wherever it lands.
Now, as for whether Chavez can actually fight as low as 164 or 165 pounds – something he hasn’t done for years – is debatable. There are many who believe this is a diversion tactic for Alvarez to swerve Golovkin but it says here that, as long as that fight happens this September, a pairing like this is kosher.
And that’s not even counting the return of Manny Pacquiao and whomever he may face and/or, of course, Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor. (Just kidding…I think.) But all the aforementioned fights will be distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View, which is having that Blockbuster Video feel nowadays.
If you end up purchasing all four cards, you will pay in excess of $250.
That’s certainly not priceless.
The Eubanks truly are delusional…Felix Verdejo returns on Feb. 3. I assume he’ll be taking an Uber to his fight…Artur Beterbiev has real power…The Raiders’ Super Bowl hopes just went right out the window with the injury to Derek Carr…How bout dem Browns!?!?…Playing the Houston Texans in the playoffs is like having a bye…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.