Pay-per-view buys may still be somewhat up in the air, depending on what you choose to believe. But the live gate figures for the Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan event are in and official.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission says that the fight sold 13,072 tickets for a gate of $7,417,350, good for the 34th-best gate in Nevada history, which all in all is not a terrible showing, particularly for a fight that had no real buzz beforehand, and was widely criticized for being a physical mismatch by many fans and pundits.
The fight was well short of a sellout, even with the added novelty of the event being the first boxing show held at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Most likely, Golden Boy hoped for far better. This was well short of the sort of sales the true biggest fights of the past five years have done at the gate in Nevada, and there was also a lot of criticism of the ticket pricing. Golden Boy pretty obviously felt they had a hotter ticket than they did.
Here's how it stacks up against other big events from the past five years:
- Mayweather vs Pacquiao (2015-05-02), $72,198,500
- Mayweather vs Canelo (2013-09-14), $20,003,150
- Mayweather vs Maidana (2014-05-03), $15,024,400
- Mayweather vs Maidana II (2014-09-13), $14,899,150
- Canelo vs Cotto (2015-11-21), $12,470,200
- Mayweather vs Cotto (2012-05-05), $12,000,150
- Pacquiao vs Marquez III (2011-11-12), $11,648,300
- Pacquiao vs Marquez IV (2012-12-08), $10,888,900
- Mayweather vs Berto (2015-09-12), $10,062,500
- Mayweather vs Guerrero (2013-04-05), $9,922,350
- Mayweather vs Ortiz (2011-09-17), $9,000,000
- Pacquiao vs Bradley (2012-06-09), $8,963,180
- Pacquiao vs Mosley (2011-05-07), $8,882,600
- Pacquiao vs Bradley II (2014-04-12), $7,865,100
Note: All of those events were held at the MGM Grand, except for the Canelo-Cotto fight, which was held at Mandalay Bay.
Canelo-Khan did do better at the gate than this year's first "big fight," the third Pacquiao-Bradley matchup on April 9. That fight did $6,411,584, easily Pacquiao's worst since he broke through as a major league headlining attraction after his win over Oscar De La Hoya in 2008.
But just like with the pay-per-view (if it did the ~600K that Golden Boy says), we do know a couple of things about Canelo as a draw that we couldn't be completely sure of before. He does have some clear drawing power as the A-side in this sort of fight, but he needs the dance partner. Khan, who has never been a draw even though he is well-known and has been excellently promoted his entire career, and is also an exciting fighter to watch, was not that dance partner. There was just too large a portion of the audience that either didn't care about this fight or actively disliked the matchup.
That said, it is so far the highest-grossing fight of 2016, and this is a new world with expectations that should be lowered. That's also something I think everyone is learning very quickly. This post-Mayweather-Pacquiao landscape is a little harsh and unforgiving. Canelo-Cotto was a big hit because people really wanted it. Mayweather-Berto, Pacquiao-Bradley III, and Canelo-Khan all flopped, to some degree, because the matchups simply did not capture the imagination. It is no longer quite enough just to insist that something is big or important -- even the promised retirements of the generation's two best fighters couldn't sell those first two fights, and even the promotion of Canelo as their replacement couldn't make the Khan fight a true blockbuster.