De La Hoya-Vargas Fight Tags $40M

Junior middleweight boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya proved his boxing skills and his pay-per-view appeal are intact, as his impressive Sept. 14 knockout of rival Fernando Vargas drew some 900,000 buyers.

That performance made Home Box Office Pay-Per-View's De La Hoya-Vargas bout the second most successful non-heavyweight fight in PPV history. It trails only the 1999 De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad bout, which generated 1.4 million PPV buys.

Overall, the fight — with its suggested retail price of $45.95 — pulled in around $45.6 million in PPV revenue. Cable subscribers made up 550,000 of the fight's total buys, while 350,000 direct-broadcast satellite viewers purchased in-home tickets.

Combined with the $103 million garnered from the June 2002 Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson fight, the industry has already reached its highest yearly PPV boxing revenue total since 1999.

"With a great combination of a left hand from De La Hoya and a right hand by Lennox Lewis, 2002 has turned out to be one of the biggest PPV knockouts in years," HBO senior vice president of sports operations Mark Taffet said.

"I think that De La Hoya gave us a career-defining performance against one of the most exciting and courageous fighters in Fernando Vargas," Taffet added. "Once again, the PPV performance proves when great fighters take great fights, subscribers will respond."

HBO PPV is now working on potential De La Hoya bouts for 2003, including rematches with the only two fighters who've defeated him, Trinidad and Shane Mosley.

De La Hoya and Trinidad's respective boxing promoters, Bob Arum and Don King, have already finalized a deal for the two to meet in early 2003. Trinidad, however, announced his retirement from the sport earlier this year and has not indicated that he wants to return to the ring.

HBO PPV could make a De La Hoya-Mosley fight, but that event would not carry the same buzz as De La Hoya-Trinidad — especially since Mosley lost his last two fights to current welterweight champion Vernon Forrest.

"We're focused on Trinidad or Mosley as De La Hoya's next opponent," Taffet said. "Both fights would be mega-events, and we'll do what we can to make either or both fights."

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.