As Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL gear up for fall postseason runs, boxing is quietly putting together a robust lineup of pay-per-view events to run over the next four months.
Three PPV boxing cards combined from Showtime and Fox Sports, as well as the scheduled November return of former PPV boxing champ Mike Tyson to the squared ring, will look to put boxing on the TV sports map in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a crowded fall boxing line-up, which is great for sports-starved consumers,” Mark Boccardi, senior VP of programming for PPV event aggregator In Demand, said.
Showtime recently launched an ambitious eight-fight fall boxing schedule which includes two major PPV events: a Sept. 26 card featuring world champion brothers Jermall and Jermell Charlo fighting in separate bouts, and an Oct. 24 Gervonta Davis- Leo Santa Cruz championship unification event, said Showtime officials.
The Sept. 26 card would be the first major PPV event for the category since the Feb. 22 Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder II heavyweight championship fight, and the first being held amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Showtime is holding all of its fights with no fans at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
Fox Sports will step into the PPV boxing ring on Nov. 21 with the Errol Spence Jr.-Danny Garcia welterweight championship fight. It's the undefeated Spence's first fight in more than a year after suffering serious injuries in an Oct. 19 car crash.
A week later, former heavyweight champion Tyson is expected to enter the ring for the first time in 15 years when he fights another former heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. in an eight-round PPV exhibition fight. The event, distributed by multi-media company Triller, is reportedly expected to also feature musical performances as part of the PPV event.
In the wings is a scheduled Dec. 19 Fury-Wilder trilogy fight, although reports say that the fight could be moved to 2021.
While it’s too early to predict whether boxing fans will support PPV events in today’s difficult economic environment, the industry has to be somewhat encouraged by PPV performance numbers from mixed martial arts outfit UFC’s recent PPV events. The UFC’s Aug. 15 UFC 252 event drew around 400,000 buys according to Sports Business Daily, the third best performance for a UFC PPV event since the pandemic began. The May 9 UFC 249 -- its first and top performing PPV event since the pandemic -- drew more than 700,000 buys, according to SBJ.
Boccardi is confident that boxing fans will gravitate to the upcoming PPV fights, especially given the number of high-profile fighters stepping into the ring.
”This fall’s PPV boxing line-up is going to be major, probably the biggest and most exciting one in recent memory," he said. "Since a lot of traditional fall sports, including some of the biggest conferences in college football, have sadly been postponed, we’re happy to be able to offer PPV customers the opportunity to support this incredible boxing season."
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