Stats say boxing is alive, well

Turns out the obituaries written for boxing were premature.

Oscar De La Hoya’s fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. set a record for most televised buys for a fight, according to figures released Wednesday, surpassing Mike Tyson’s second fight with Evander Holyfield and making it boxing’s richest event.

A total of 2.15 million households paid $54.95 for the fight, generating revenue of $120 million. The previous record set by Tyson-Holyfield was 1.99 million households.

"This puts to bed this theory of boxing being in trouble, or being dead or dying," said Ross Greenburg, head of HBO Sports. "This fight would have never materialized if boxing was dying."

A person close to the promotion said De La Hoya would end up making about $45 million for the fight and Mayweather just more than $20 million. That person requested anonymity because the promoters did not want official figures released.

The $45 million would be the biggest purse paid to a fighter, higher than the $35 million purses Tyson and Holyfield reportedly were paid for the infamous "Bite Fight" in 1997.

Mayweather beat De La Hoya on a split decision Saturday night in an entertaining fight that drew a record live gate of $19 million at the MGM Grand Garden. Mayweather won on two of the three ringside scorecards to win the WBC 154-pound title.

The fight will be replayed at 7 p.m. PDT Saturday.

Greenburg credited the success of the network’s "24/7" reality show that ran in a coveted Sunday night slot behind the "Sopranos" and "Entourage" for three weeks leading up to the fight with helping sell the public and media on its worth.

Mayweather and his dysfunctional family, including his estranged father, Floyd Sr., and his trainer and uncle, Roger, became the show’s stars, allowing non-boxing fans a glimpse into the fighter’s life.

"The series was not only well received by the American public, who were suddenly attracted in a very human way to these two fighters, but it allowed the media to cover the fight in more depth," Greenburg said. "They were able to dive deeper into the backgrounds of both fighters."

The reality show concept never had been done among top fighters in boxing, but a similar series on the Spike network was credited with making Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed-martial arts fighters popular.

Greenburg said the 2.15 million buys have to be multiplied because most people who bought the fight invited others to watch. Multiplied by five or more fans per household, the fight probably was seen live by more than 10 million people, he said.

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