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HBO on Pace for a KO

Home Box Office is poised to knock out its all-time yearly pay-per-view boxing earnings record.

Halfway through 2006, HBO PPV has generated $116 million in pay-per-view revenue, putting it well ahead of the pace needed to topple its record of $200 million in boxing revenue set in 1999, and could threaten the category’s $232 million mark set in 1997.

HBO PPV expects to offer as many as seven more boxing events this year, highlighted by appearances from welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather and popular super featherweight boxer Manny Pacquiao, according to HBO senior vice president of sports operations Mark Taffet.

“The revenues are greater than they’ve ever been and we don’t expect to see a major dropoff in the second half of the year,” he said. “It’s no longer an occasional revenue stream for the operators.”

Indeed, while the 1999 record was based primarily on revenues generated from three fights — an Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad and a pair of Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis bouts — HBO has delivered a steady, consistent stream of boxing revenues from five fights to cable and satellite distributors in 2006, led by the $47 million generated by the May 6 Oscar De La Hoya-Ricardo Ricardo Mayorga event.

The other fights: the June 10 Bernard Hopkins-Antonio Tarver showdown ($16.5 million); the April 8 Floyd Mayweather-Zab Judah battle ($15.7 million in revenue); the Feb. 25 Shane Mosley-Fernando Vargas bout ($20.5 million); and the Jan. 21 Pacquiao-Erik Morales match ($15.7 million)

Mosley and Vargas will fight a PPV rematch bout July 15, while Pacquiao and Morales are scheduled to renew their fisticuffs on Nov. 18. Heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman will engage contender Oleg Maskaev on Aug. 5. Junior lightweight champion Marco Antonio Barerra is expected to headline a September card, with Mayweather most likely stepping back into the PPV ring in November against an as yet to be determined opponent. Taffet said HBO also is working toward finalizing PPV cards for October and December.

While HBO is driving the lion’s share of PPV boxing revenues, other event distributors will look to contribute to the category’s revenue take for the year. Philippines-based television network ABS CBN International was scheduled to offer a July 1 Pacquiao-Oscar Larios bout, while boxing promotion firm Integrated Sports plans to distribute a July 29 Roy Jones Jr.-Prince Badi Ajamu light heavyweight championship contest.