It’ll be some time before fighters get the chance to ply their craft in front of anything but the most limited live audiences. This has understandably put a damper on promoters’ willingness to put on stacked shows; Frank Warren claims he won’t rebook Joe Joyce-Daniel Dubois behind closed doors and Bob Arum has made similar statements about Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder 3, citing the importance of gate revenue. According to Eddie Hearn, though, they’ll have to just suck it up.
”A lot of people are saying, ‘You can’t do big fights behind closed doors,’ right? But we have to. Look at how UFC bounced back over the weekend, and I spoke to Dana (White) the last couple of days, and I just said I wasn’t sure about his decision, if it was even morally right. But he’s a front-runner, a go-getter, and he went out and delivered — but he delivered with a strong product.”
Last Saturday’s UFC 249, which featured two title fights and an ostensible heavyweight final eliminator, reportedly netted over 700k pay-per-view buys.
One of the most interesting mysteries, to me, is how boxing’s pricing will change as the sport resumes. The aforementioned Arum has made clear that pay-per-views need to be cheaper; 249 may have made bank with a significant upfront price and the inconvenience of ESPN+, but their monopoly on diversion isn’t going to last forever. I expect lower purses and more fights on network television at the very least.