It’s always a moment of cringe whenever someone hears a young boxer is aspiring to fight on a pay-per-view basis. What they’re really saying when they mention it is that they hope it will happen like Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya and Mike Tyson, three of the biggest PPV stars in the history of the sport.
PPV shouldn’t be a promise land, because unless you’ve got Mayweather-like talent and talent, you’re almost certainly not going to sell much. The odds are against any fighter Mayweather-De La Hoya-Tyson has reached the level of PPV success.
Look at Terence Crawford, the best boxer in the world, who never aimed for a paycheck that involved 200,000 sales, let alone 1 million.
Promoters will tell you enough that pay-per-view is the most popular form of sports betting: If you like the card, or the fighters on it, you should watch it. However, no subscription fee or any other fee is required to see it. If you don’t like the card, you don’t have to buy it.
But putting fights on a PPV comes with a risk, because the audience is necessarily smaller for a pivotal PPV if it doesn’t include one of the industry’s superstars.
Which brings us to Saturday’s PPV offering from Showtime at the Capital One Arena in Washington DC, which is headlined by Gervonta Davis vs. Hector Garcia and sells for — OUCH! – suggested retail price of $74.99.
The PPV card consists of four fights. The opener is Demetrius Andrade against Demond Nicholson, then “Speedy” Rashidi will face Elias Roiman Villa. The co-main event pitted star Jaron “Otoer” Ennis against Karen Chukhadzhian and the main event pitted Davis and Garcia.
First, let’s see what you get for your money.
Andrade is a -2500 favorite over Nicholson, who is +900 at BetMGM. Elias -700 against Villa, who is +450.
Ennis, who will fight for the interim IBF welterweight title, is a -5000 favorite over Chukhadzhian, who is +1400. And Davis is -1100 favorite over Garcia, who is +650.
Clearly, the book makers are not waiting for the warehouse.
We cannot ignore the domestic violence allegations that have surfaced around Davis. He was arrested on December 26 in Parkland, Florida, on a charge of battery causing bodily harm. Police noted that at the time of the arrest, the victim had a bloody leg.
The victim therefore refuses to testify, which calls 911 calls, and the charges against Davis were dropped. It is possible that the alleged victim initiated the crimes and tried to extort Davis, as it is also possible that she was abused but then was somehow convinced to drop the allegations. We have to see.
He is innocent until proven guilty, but he has had many allegations against him. However, Showtime wants to charge $75 for the privilege of keeping it.
Davis is an excellent fighter who is the best in the world, as well as a guy who has proven to be a ticket seller. He’s the guy you want to see fight because his fights are almost always packed and entertaining. And Ennius is almost a superstar and a huge KO artist.
But let’s be honest: the fights aren’t getting competitive here, and even though he didn’t say it, you know Showtime knows. Davis is supposed to face Ryan Garcia, probably in the spring, in what will be a terrible match if it goes off. If Showtime or the decision-makers at Premier Boxing felt that Hector Garcia was a legitimate threat to Davis, they would not have made this fight and potentially lost the IRC with Ryan Garcia.
The fight, though, will be twisted on PPV, with no one willing to pay the license fee to put them over-the-top or rope.
This leaves the consumer with a choice: pay $75 and potentially not see a single bout of the fight, or skip it and perhaps miss a spectacular performance by Davis and/or Ennis.
One thing for sure, however, is that you don’t build an audience just by keeping the fighters on PPV. And if history tells us anything, it’s that we’ve seen the last of Davis on free TV.
Hopefully, Hector Garcia, Chukhadzhian, Villa and Nicholson show up and compete hard, giving hard workers who will prove their $75 skin worth their money. This is far from a guarantee, but if you don’t believe it, the odds are against you.
Davis still faces charges in Baltimore of leaving the scene of an accident in November 2020 in which one of the victims was pregnant. On February 16, he appeared in court to answer the 14 charges against him.
That puts his potential fight with Ryan Garcia in a lot of doubt. So maybe putting him on PPV one last time is a cash-in method in case the worst happens.
Who knows the truth, but one thing is for sure, there are fans who, when they pay big money for what appear to be mismatches on paper, will be short.