In what industry sources point out as sharply diminished interest from mainstream/crossover sports fans, last Saturday’s Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith fight in Texas isn’t expected to surpass 300,000 pay-per-view buys.
Mexico’s Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 knockouts) knocked out England’s Smith in the ninth round after dropping him in each of the two prior rounds to capture the World Boxing Organization junior-middleweight belt at AT&T Stadium outside Dallas.
While the attendance was more than 51,000, the $64.95 pay-per-view price and disappointment over Alvarez not fighting unbeaten middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin triggered a mass defection.
In November, Alvarez’s unanimous-decision victory over Puerto Rico’s four-division champion Miguel Cotto drew 900,000 buys. Around 500,000 bought Alvarez’s May knockout of British welterweight Amir Khan.
Yet, industry sources claim with satellite figures in and early cable companies reporting, the Alvarez-Smith fight should finish with between 250,000 and 300,000 buys.
The tone from executives at competing promotions Thursday was that Alvarez and his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, did themselves a great disservice by indicating Alvarez was fighting Golovkin following the Khan triumph.
Golovkin was summoned into the ring by Alvarez, who said he was prepared that second to fight the champion from Kazakhstan who’s now riding a 23-fight knockout streak.
Instead, days later, Alvarez relinquished his World Boxing Council middleweight belt to mandatory challenger Golovkin and promised to fight him in September 2017.
“I’d put tape over [Alvarez’s] mouth and [De La Hoya’s] mouth,” one fight executive said, requesting anonymity because they routinely avoid publicly discussing other’s business. “The idiocy of [Alvarez] calling out Golovkin and fighting someone nobody’s heard of … they put themselves in this position.
“So, right now, he’s in the unenviable position of his next fight is not going to be against Golovkin either, so he’s going to pay the price for it again.”
The shrinking audience for the Smith fight is around the sales Alvarez had in 2014 when he fought little-known Cuban Erislandy Lara.
“Not a good sign,” one television industry source said. “Seems to indicate he is connecting only with hardcore boxing fans,” with fights like this.
Alvarez, 26, fractured his right thumb in Saturday’s bout and will decide whether to either fight again in early 2017 and in May, or just on Cinco de Mayo weekend as the Golovkin fight looms.
Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) is negotiating a possible Dec. 10 fight at Madison Square Garden against co-World Boxing Assn. champion Daniel Jacobs, and he also is planning a spring 2017 date.
In England, where Golovkin’s Sept. 10 fifth-round technical knockout of welterweight champion Kell Brook sold out O2 Arena in London, there were 500,000 pay-per-view buys.