The numbers are in for Floyd Mayweather's win over Miguel Cotto and in case you missed them, they are big: 1.5 million pay per view buys and $94 million in revenue, making it the second highest grossing non-heavyweight pay-per-view event in boxing history, eclipsed only by Mayweather's record breaking 2007 showdown with Oscar De La Hoya. Tack on another $12 million raked in at the gates, and Mayweather-Cotto was a monster.
In the aftermath of Friday's announcement, some have suggested that those numbers prove that Mayweather is right to refuse to offer Manny Pacquiao a 50-50 split.
That would be wrong.
For all the talk of Mayweather's pay-per-view power, Pacquiao's numbers are fairly comparable. In 15 pay-per-views -- several of which were smaller shows put on by Top Rank early in his career -- Pacquiao has generated 9.9 million buys and an estimated $525 million in revenue. Mayweather has fought on pay-per-view nine times, generating 9.6 million buys and $540 million in revenue.
More importantly, Mayweather and Pacquiao are comparable draws now. Mayweather-Cotto did 1.5 million buys; according to a source, Pacquiao's November win over Juan Manuel Marquez did 1.25 million. Mayweather's promoter, Golden Boy, reported that Mayweather's win over Victor Ortiz last September generated 1.25 million buys. Top Rank reported Pacquiao's win over Shane Mosley last May did 1.2 million buys.
While Pacquiao's upcoming fight with Tim Bradley next month likely won't sniff 1.5 million buys -- Bradley is a huge underdog and an unknown on pay-per-view, whereas Cotto is widely considered the third biggest pay-per-view draw in the sport -- it doesn't change the widespread belief in the industry that individually, Pacquiao and Mayweather drum up the same level of pay-per-view interest. History is irrelevant; it's what kind of numbers each bring to the table now that matters.
Both are big at the box office, too. Mayweather-De La Hoya holds the Nevada record for the largest grossing gate ($18.4 million) while Pacquiao's fight with De La Hoya in 2008 comes in third ($14.4 million). Mayweather-Cotto was the ninth largest gate ($12 million), just edging Pacquiao-Marquez III ($11.7 million). Whereas Mayweather does a bigger gate, Pacquiao generally sells more tickets.
If Mayweather and Pacquiao went head-to-head, each would bring an individual strength. The flamboyant Mayweather's ratings on HBO's 24/7 are significantly higher than the more reserved Pacquiao, while Pacquiao is more popular in the foreign markets and would generate the lion's share of the revenue there.
In a fight that could generate north of $150 million in revenue, Pacquiao would be foolish to accept Mayweather's offer of a flat fee of $40 million. Mayweather's argument that Pacquiao is a $7 million fighter is inaccurate. While Mayweather's brilliant business model ensures that his purses exceed Pacquiao's, when Pacquiao, whose contract calls for him to take a big piece of the pay-per-view upside, fights he takes home $25-$30 million. A more interesting deal is the one Top Rank has on the table: a 45-45 split, with the winner taking home the last ten percent.
Now, onto your e-mail ...
Though not an avid follower of boxing, I am more than just a cursory fan, so when I think of the "greats" of all-time since I've been alive, the names of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, and Roberto Duran immediately come to mind. Notice anything about this grouping? The heavyweights and the welterweights all fought each other, and, just as importantly, in their primes. That, to me, is what has made each of their legacies what they are. All of these champs lost and none of their standings as all-time greats is questioned or tarnished. If "Money" wants to be included with these greats without the "Yeah, but he never fought ..." coming after his name, then he's gonna have to face the Pac-Man. I look at Money's last six opponents, and there's a legitimate qualifier in each case: Victor Ortiz and Carlos Baldomir (who?), Shane Mosely and Oscar De La Hoya (Too old), and Juan Manuel Marquez and Ricky Hatton (Too small). His strategy is obviously tremendous for his bank account, not so much for his legacy as an all-timer.
-- Mike, Indialantic, FL
That's an opinion I hear a lot, Mike. Mayweather firmly believes that his undefeated record is proof of his greatness, while others (myself included) believe greatness is achieved by taking on the best. Which is why I have said it before and I will say it again: If Pacquaio and Mayweather don't fight, when it comes time to vote them into the Hall of Fame, I won't put either one of them on the first ballot.
An 87-day incarceration is a JAIL sentence, not a prison sentence. I know "prison" sounds so scary, and also is better to tar someone with, but first develop some ethics and learn to write before you focus on tarring others.
-- Michael, Seattle
In a 2,000 word story largely praising Mayweather's genius, that is what you take away? Breathe, Michael. Breathe.
It seems a bit funny to see that Andre Ward is baffled by Lucian Bute's decision to fight Carl Froch instead of him. Immediately after beating Froch in December and being crowned the Super Six champion, Ward indicated that he had no immediate plans to fight Bute, saying that not having taking part in the Super Six tournament, Bute should (at least for the time being) look elsewhere for opponents. Well, that's exactly what Bute did.
-- Bogdan, Germany
I think Ward regrets saying that. Because you're right, Bute did exactly what Ward asked him to. I think Ward got a little cocky and put his foot in his mouth. Now, with Ward penciled in to fight Chad Dawson in the fall, we may not get Ward-Bute until 2013, if at all. It's pretty disappointing.