Canelo Alvarez hits a PPV home run; bout with Chavez Jr. may hit 1 million

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Canelo Alvarez (R) reaffirmed his position as boxing’s biggest draw by selling nearly 1 million pay-per-views for his bout with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (Getty Images)

In the wake of Floyd Mayweather’s 2015 retirement, Canelo Alvarez assumed the mantle of boxing’s biggest draw.

And it appears he lived up to that reputation in last week’s fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Not only did Alvarez-Chavez draw an arena-record 20,510 fans, it appears the pay-per-view has a chance to exceed 1 million sales.

It’s an extraordinary number, considering that Alvarez’s 2016 fights with Amir Khan and Liam Smith combined didn’t reach that number.

Multiple industry sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports that the pay-per-view has exceeded 900,000 and has a chance to reach or exceed 1 million by the time all the numbers are in.

“Without getting into specific numbers, the huge demand for this fight – whether it was at the T-Mobile Arena, on HBO or through Golden Boy’s online pay-per-view – is proof positive that Canelo is the most popular fighter in our sport, and it’s not even close,” Golden Boy spokesman Stefan Friedman said.

It generally takes several months, and sometimes over a year, for the final sales from cable companies to come in. Numbers from satellite companies are available almost immediately, and so the figure that is reported a week after the fight is an estimate based on the numbers on hand.

Alvarez has long been one of the big draws in the sport, and he combined with Mayweather in 2013 to sell 2.2 million pay-per-views and generated a then-record $150 million in PPV revenue. Promoters announced his 2015 fight with Miguel Cotto, in which he claimed the WBC middleweight title that he later surrendered, sold in excess of 900,000.

Prior to the bout last week, which Alvarez won in a rout, Yahoo Sports referred to the match with Chavez as “a stroke of genius.” That was because of the deep rivalry that existed between Alvarez and Chavez and the passions would be stirred as a result among Hispanic fight fans. The Hispanic fight audience is boxing’s most loyal in terms of purchasing pay-per-view.

It’s also a good harbinger for the performance of the Sept. 16 mega-fight between Alvarez and IBF-WBA-WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, which was announced on Saturday after Alvarez’s sweep of Chavez.

While Alvarez has been a big draw, Golovkin hasn’t been a hit on pay-per-view. He sold 150,000 for his 2015 fight with David Lemieux and only 170,000 for his March 18 win in New York over Daniel Jacobs.

But Alvarez-Golovkin is arguably the best fight in boxing that could be made, and expectations are that the fight will generate significant revenue.

Canelo Alvarez celebrates his May 6 victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)