Manny Pacquiao’s two-round demolition of Ricky Hatton has set up the prospect of the biggest money-spinning fight in the history of boxing.
The Filipino knocked out the plucky but outclassed Briton in Las Vegas on Saturday night — earning him by a conservative estimate at least $2 million dollars per minute. Hatton, who could well now hang up his gloves, will pocket more than $8 million as a consolation. Pacquiao’s all-action style is popular with boxing followers and in his native Philippines the theaters which screened his fight live with Hatton were sold out well in advance with a ferocious demand for tickets. But the really big money lies in the Pay Per View (PPV) revenues generated by the U.S. Home Box Office (HBO) network.
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USA Today reported Monday that early indications from cable companies were that the scheduled 12-round light-welterweight bout could get as many as two million buys. Co-promoter Bob Arum was delighted with the figures especially as initial estimates were suggesting about one million boxing fans would shell out their cash. “We know based on those early numbers and based on experience the event will perform extremely well. If I had to guess, anywhere between 1.6 million and two million homes, which is a home run,” he said. The record for a PPV event is the 2.4 million buys for ‘Golden Boy’ Oscar De La Hoya’s May 2007 fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr., which generated a staggering $134 million in revenue. Mayweather, who also beat Hatton in another ‘superfight’ at the back end of 2007, astutely chose Saturday night in Vegas to announce he was coming out of retirement. Mayweather, nicknamed ‘money’ because of the enormous revenues he generates, will face Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez on July 18 in his return to the ring. But the talk of the boxing world is an eventual match up against Pacquiao with the notional pound for pound title at stake as well as a massive pay day. “If Mayweather wants a piece of the ‘little Filipino’, just be my guest,” Arum said before the dust had barely settled on the Hatton fight. With the flamboyant De La Hoya retired after being handed a painful beating by Pacquiao at the back end of 2008, the mantle of PPV king is set to fall to one of the two men who ended his ring career. Despite the global recession, the appetite for top prize fighting remains strong, but it is the more flamboyant characters who draw the biggest audiences. Last November’s HBO clash between former pound for pound champion Roy Jones Jr. and the brilliant undefeated Welsh world champion Joe Calzaghe drew less than 250,000 buys. The only potential obstacle to a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout, the dangerous Marquez aside, is the relative sizes of the two men. Mayweather is a natural welterweight and would want a fight at 147 pounds, with Pacquiao, who started his remarkable career at light-flyweight, wanting the match at a lower weight. But big business and money is set to talk and many predict the showdown will come late this year, almost certainly in Las Vegas.