by Paul Magno
I know Bob Arum is old school, but it just doesn’t get much older than the infamous “bait and switch” that he pulled with his company’s first major Pay Per View of 2009.
The co-main events all along were Kelly Pavlik vs. Marco Antonio Rubio and Miguel Cotto vs. Michael Jennings, two probable mismatches energized by the fact that both marquee stars were coming back from devastating losses. These 2 bouts alone, despite the redemption angle and the split venue novelty, were not PPV main events and were not even HBO main events since the network passed on both Rubio and Jennings as possible foes. However, the real bang for the buck would be in the undercard…or at least that’s what Arum assured a recession-affected boxing public.
How about Joshua Clottey vs. Kermit Cintron? Anthony Peterson vs. Julio Diaz? A title defense from Ivan Calderon? Even a short 4 round glimpse of Russian amateur standout, Matt Korobov? The fans were already giddy with the prospect of which of these standout fights would be support to the already-signed main events. Maybe all of them. Maybe this one was for the fans; A real PPV that harkens back to the Don King cards of the 90’s.
But, as it turns out, the only one of those bouts that will actually make it to the PPV is the 4 round Korobov fight. The others vanished into thin air or, perhaps more correctly, were allowed to disappear.
But what hasn’t disappeared much is the price. The suggested retail price for the Cotto/Pavlik Tale of Two Cities PPV is 44.95, just about 5 bucks cheaper than the normal asking price for any other big name PPV.
I’ll leave it up to you to decided whether this upcoming event is worth the price, but I’m guessing you know my opinion. The final televised card, after a Peterson/Edner Cherry bout also got scratched, is: Cotto vs. Jennings, Pavlik vs. Rubio, probably the 4-rounder with Korobov and John Duddy vs. Matt Vanda, which is actually a pretty decent match-up, but more along the lines of an ESPN or Versus main event and not chief support to this year’s biggest PPV so far.
Then, we move ahead to late March when Arum and Top Rank will be holding their next pay extravaganza, Latin Fury 8, featuring the latest Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. farce against Luciano Leonel Cuello, a fighter so unknown that even his own family is probably jumping to Boxrec.com to see just who he is.
But, once again, Arum justified the price of the event by mentioning the high-octane undercard that would serve as support to the questionable main event. Fernando Montiel vs. Eric Morel, Jose Luis Castillo vs. Antonio Diaz and a competitive bout featuring Humberto Soto were all boastfully announced, a real “Night of Champions.”
Now, as the March 28th date approaches, Morel has been eliminated in favor of the much less impressive Diego Oscar Silva and Soto’s opponent is still the dreaded TBA. Is this worth the suggest price of between 30 and 40 bucks? Again, I’ll leave that to you.
In a world of financial insecurity, a decent approach would’ve been to significantly lower the price of the show or significantly elevate the quality of the cards. Arum’s strategy seems to be a token price cut followed by a much more significant reduction in quality. It all seems like dirty pool to me.
But I don’t want to make it seem like I’m picking on Top Rank as the only guilty and/or clueless party when it comes to PPV cards in a fragile economy.
There was a 25 dollar PPV recently from Germany which featured a Ruslan Chagaev vs. Carl Davis Drumond main event with an Andreas Kotelnik title defense as the main undercard bout.
There’s also the upcoming PPV on March 14th from Great Britain which Amir Khan and Marco Antonio Barrera will headline. The 25 dollar asking price for this one certainly is reasonable, IMO, as the card will also feature a competitive Nicky Cook vs. Roman Martinez battle and Enzo Maccarinelli’s long-awaited WBO interim Cruiserweight title fight against the tough Ola Afolabi. But the question remains whether this card is PPV-worthy to the general public and whether these bouts wouldn’t have found a more hospitable home on a free TV outlet.
The Roy Jones vs., Omar Sheika PPV in March will feature a main event bout that would’ve had more than a few eyes rolling 8 years ago, plus an undercard full of second-rate MMA action. Apparently, Jones is charging for the privilege of offending two sets of fans as MMA fans will balk at the Boxing main event and Boxing fans will chuckle at the concept of a badly shot Jones taking on a battered ex-club fighter in the ONLY boxing event of the card. I don’t know what the asking price for this one will be, but if it’s over 1.50, fans would be better off buying a chili dog at the 7-11 and watching Jones’ greatest performances on YouTube.
There was a time when a PPV date was reserved for the best of the best. The PPV was Boxing’s special day, the prize fighting equivalent to the Super Bowl. Now, PPV dates are a means for promoters to dump fights that they couldn’t sell elsewhere. The promotional companies now see the PPV as their own virtual yard sale in which they can make a quick buck with inferior merchandise But their insensitivity, incompetence and lack of desire to actually promote their fighters to greater exposure is very close to reaching its end. The fans’ dollars are disappearing and patience is running thin.
It’s only a question of time before the long-suffering Boxing fan revolts and just stops buying everything- Good, bad and in between. Then, in their attempt to pull a fast one for a quick buck, the promoters will have doomed the sport.