Per a Yahoo Sports report by Kevin Iole, the Tim Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez HBO pay-per-view exceeded expectations and reportedly achieved 375,000 sales. It was priced between $55 (SD) and $65 (HD) before taxes with an unspectacular undercard that saw Orlando Salido-Orlando Cruz, Vasyl Lomachenko-Jose Ramirez, and Sean Monaghan-Anthony Caputo Smith make the televised portion. None of those bouts were competitive on or off paper but it apparently didn't matter.
Despite the price a good main event was enough to entice fans to pony up the money just a month after Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez generated 2,200,000 sales. Bradley-Marquez was no "Fight of the Year," but it was a close, high level chess match that kept the audience intrigued until the very end (where Bradley pulled out a split decision). But with the success it achieved, does that bode well for boxing fans that want quality undercards?
By my own estimations (ie extremely unofficial) the PPV should have generated around $22 million in revenue. Going into the event the guaranteed fight purses for just the main attractions were $4.1 and $6 million for Bradley and Marquez respectively. Such purses (among other expenses) would have seen the overall event break even with around 350,000 sales, according to Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, so each fighter may have received a small bonus.
Yet, Bradley's manager Cameron Dunkin only thought the PPV would do between 250k-300k buys, as did many (myself included). Clearly we were all concerned that the PPV was priced too high for basically 1 compelling fight, but casual fans probably just don't care about undercards. Or maybe Bradley and Marquez's star power actually jumped up quite a bit by defeating Manny Pacquiao the year before and a solid undercard could have seen the PPV generate 500k+ buys (less likely).
Despite my doubts I'm hoping the latter is true and Top Rank truly believes it, which would convince them to stop feeding us appetizers from the dumpster. Unfortunately they will probably assume the former and be even less inclined to gives us quality undercards in the future. With Golden Boy off HBO, Top Rank has no real competition to make PPVs. Whatever they offer HBO is basically the best HBO is going to get, monetarily speaking.
Boxing lives in a 2-promotional-super-power world and each power has its own network. Golden Boy gives us higher level cards to build up Showtime while Top Rank rides on the coattails of the more established HBO. When we fork out another $60+ for Manny Pacquiao-Bradon Rios later this month, we'll once again see an unheralded undercard courtesy Top Rank and HBO. Then the month after that we'll get 2 quality cards off PPV thanks to Golden Boy and Showtime. Subsequently the boxing universe balances itself out. But what does this mean for the future? Time will tell.
Update: Bradley bout does $21.75M in PPV
The fight generated a gate of $2,998,950 from 10,683 tickets sold. There were 1,370 complimentary tickets given away and 5,649 tickets went unsold.
Ryan Bivins is a staff writer for BadLeftHook. You can contact him on twitter (@sweetboxing) or through email (firstname.lastname@example.org).