Though not on par with the record-setting Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson fight, Home Box Office Pay-Per-View was still pleased with the performance of its June 22 Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales bout.
The fight — in which Barrera avenged a loss to Morales two years ago in a controversial decision — will pull between 300,000 and 325,000 PPV buys when final tallies are made, according to HBO PPV senior vice president of sports operations Mark Taffet. He said the fight performed particularly strong in Hispanic markets.
At a suggested retail price of $39.95, the event could gross almost $13 million for PPV. Taffet said the fight performed above expectations, especially since neither Barrera nor Morales are big PPV draws. In fact, only Barrera has headlined a PPV event — his 2001 bout against the flamboyant Prince Haseem Hamed.
"Our expectations of the event were modest, because Morales had not participated in any major PPV promotion before, and there was question whether the 300,000 buys for Barrera-Hamed figures were driven more by Barrera or Hamed," Taffet said. "With approximately 300,000 buys, it proves that Barrera was a major draw even in the Hamed event, and the combination of Barrera-Morales in Hispanic markets generated a tremendous interest in the fight."
Taffet said the event was not overshadowed by the June 8 Lewis-Tyson PPV event, which generated more than 1.8 million buys and a record $103 million in PPV revenue only two weeks prior to Barrera-Morales.
HBO PPV will now focus its efforts on its Sept. 14 Oscar De La Hoya-Fernando Vargas junior-middleweight championship fight. Beyond that, Taffet said he hopes to offer two more PPV fights by year's end.
The network will soon talk to heavyweight champion Lewis about his boxing future, which could lead to a fall PPV event.
The industry took a body blow last week when Felix Trinidad announced his retirement. He had been one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world in recent years, as well as a major PPV draw. His 1999 fight with De La Hoya is the highest grossing, non-heavyweight fight in history, drawing more than $62 million.
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