Two pay-per-view boxing matches have changed dates and venues to allow for in-arena fan attendance. Showtime has moved its Oct. 24 Gervonta Davis-Leo Santa Cruz championship fight to Oct. 31. Instead of the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut, where Showtime held its Sept. 26 PPV fight in front of no fans, the fight will take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, which will host in excess of 10,000 fans, said Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Networks president and general manager of sports and event programming.
The fight will join Dallas Cowboys home games and the Los Angeles Dodgers-Atlanta Braves National League Championship series as events staged in Texas before in-person crowds. Espinoza expects 10,000 to 15,000 fans to attend the bout in an arena that can hold 75,000.
“The promoters were interested in exploring whether the event could be staged with limited fans in attendance,” Espinoza said. “They eventually settled on San Antonio, since Texas has been holding sports events with limited crowds for several weeks. For combat sports in general and boxing in particular, the fan energy and the electricity of the crowd is part of the event, so it’s a great development that we’ll have some of that back in a safe way for this event.”
Showtime isn’t the only network to rearrange its PPV fight-card schedule to accommodate a live audience. Fox Sports will distribute the Errol Spence Jr.-Danny Garcia welterweight PPV fight on Dec. 5 from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Cowboys, according to ESPN. The fight was originally scheduled to take place Nov. 21 in Los Angeles without fans.
Espinoza would not reveal the number of PPV buys it generated for its Sept. 26 event, which featured world champion brothers Jermall and Jermell Charlo in separate bouts, although The Atlantic reported that the card garnered 100,000 buys. Espinoza did say the event met expectations given the pandemic and the stiff competition from a UFC PPV event and a Denver Nuggets-Los Angeles Lakers NBA Western Conference Finals game.
“We had modest expectations given the fact that the headliners were making their first appearance on PPV and the fact that we’re still in the midst of economic duress in the country,” Espinoza said. “Boxing has to rely on PPV to get the big fights done. Without big license fees from networks and live gate revenue, these big events couldn’t happen.”
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