Thursday, November 19, 2009

Does Pacquiao or Mayweather deserve the bigger share of the purse?

Probably the biggest obstacle to a showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. is that both fighters will probably want more than 50% of the fight purse.

There have been ideas floated around about both fighters getting 45% and the winner getting the remaining ten percent, but neither fighter has commented on this yet. More than likely there will be a lot of arguing back and forth before anything is agreed to, and even then anything being agreed to at all is far from certain.

Wanting to make a fight and then actually having to sort out the details are two very different things, and this might go down as the greatest fight that never took place. Both Pacquiao and Mayweather have stated that they want the fight, and there are few other opponents out there for either of them that would garner a fraction of the interest that this fight would. Rumors have started about Mayweather rematching Hatton, and Pacquiao fighting Shane Mosley, but these are hardly fights that the boxing public are clamoring to see.

Given that both men will probably want the bigger share of the purse, the question remains as to who deserves it more. Obviously fans inclined either way will simply pick their favorite of the two fighters, but the true test would be which of the two would be creating the most pay pew view buys for the event. Both fighters have large fan bases and can sell big pay pew view numbers in their own right, but which would be contributing the most in this fight?

Well judging on numbers alone, it would appear at first glance like Mayweather is the bigger seller. The problem with this though is that two of his biggest fights, namely against De La Hoya and Hatton, were then repeated by Pacquiao. Obviously few fans gave either opponent much chance against Manny after losing to Floyd, and the numbers were smaller. Had the pair fought Pacquiao first, then I suspect the numbers for those fights would probably have been the bigger, but that remains speculation at this stage.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar De La Hoya vs, 1.25 million buys.
Floyd Mayweather vs. Oscar De La Hoya, 2.4 million buys
Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton, 850,000 buys
Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton, 915,000 buys

*These are only the US figures, and both Ricky Hatton fights are thought to have sold around 1 million pay per views in the U.K. Other international sales aren't published as often, although these figures are generally a reliable standard for international trends as well.

Floyd will demand over 50%, despite all his talk (AP Photo/Jae C, Hong)Looking at the fights they had after this, Mayweather vs. Marquez and Pacquiao vs. Cotto, is the much more fair judge of their relative drawing power. Although the official figures aren't yet in for the Cotto fight, Bob Arum said: “we are happy because we did well over a million homes and I think it will be closer to 1.5 million.”

Mayweather vs. Marquez sales were reported to be around 1.1 million all told, although Mayweather had his own remarks to make about the better sales from Pacquiao: “I’ve done over a million homes by myself. Now we got Pacquiao and Cotto, two guys who have a pretty cool fan base, so if they do more homes than Mayweather, more power to them, but they supposed to. I don’t have no dance partner,”

The problem looks more likely to have been that Marquez's fans knew he was going to lose, rather than Cotto having a massive following, which he doesn't even in Puerto Rico. Also while a lot of people thought Cotto would beat Pacquiao, or at least give him a close fight, every boxing writer, fan and expert was united in knowing that Marquez would be undersized and outclassed by Mayweather, which in itself could have affected the sales.

Because of this, both fighters can claim to be the biggest seller, although Floyd will certainly be the first one to do so. Pacquiao neither hypes up his fights, nor seems to care about the sales achieved, presumably he sees sales as something for people like Bob Arum and Freddie Roach to worry about.

The verdict then is that defining a clear biggest seller is nearly impossible given the different factors that affect both fighters and the opponents they have chosen. Floyd certainly seems to have picked his opponents better than Pacquiao, beating him to the better sales that De La Hoya and Hatton offered before they were damaged goods. Also Floyd certainly puts in the air time into making his fights big sellers with his constant bragging and attention seeking. Pacquiao relies on the fact that his fans like him as a person, rather than just as a fighter, which is something that few fighters in boxing today can do (Ricky Hatton in the UK, but there aren't many others).

The one thing that is for certain is that a fight between the two would probably beat the current record set by De La Hoya and Mayweather back in 2007. Which of the two would actually sell the most is debatable, but a strong case can be made for either man.

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