De La Hoya 'ecstatic' that fight was richest ever

Updated: May 9, 2007, 10:31 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Throughout the entire five-month promotion for last Saturday's Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Oscar De La Hoya fight, expectations ran high that it would break the non-heavyweight pay-per-view record of 1.4 million buys set by De La Hoya's 1999 welterweight unification bout against Felix Trinidad.

Al Bello/Getty ImagesAfter slugging each other for 12 rounds, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. squeeze in one hug following what is now the most lucrative fight in boxing history.

However, few expected it to break the all-time record for buys or the all-time revenue record.

HBO PPV announced on Wednesday that the match between Mayweather -- the pound-for-pound king -- and De La Hoya -- the sport's most popular fighter -- eclipsed the buy mark of 1.99 million, set by the 1997 Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson heavyweight championship ear-bite rematch, and the revenue record of $112 million, set by the 2002 Lennox Lewis-Tyson heavyweight title fight.

The new records: an astonishing 2.15 million buys, a number that will increase once all the buys are fully accounted for (the fight could easily surpass 2.2 million buys), and a gargantuan $120 million in pay-per-view revenue.

The buy record included 1.225 million units from cable systems and 925,000 satellite homes.

"I'm ecstatic," De La Hoya told ESPN.com, just after taping an interview for HBO's rebroadcast. "Of course, the money makes me really happy, but just having those records and being a non-heavyweight is an accomplishment in itself. To break the 1.99 million mark goes to show you that Golden Boy Promotions likes to do things in a big way.

"I think everyone targeted the 1.4 million mark, but me and [Golden Boy CEO] Richard [Schaefer] were always shooting for the 2 million mark. It's amazing."

Mayweather claimed a split decision victory and won a junior middleweight title in the much-anticipated showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. HBO will televise a replay of the fight Saturday night (10 ET/PT), which will include new interviews with Mayweather and De La Hoya.

"De La Hoya vs. Mayweather was a record-setting event from the moment the fight was announced," said Ross Greenburg, president of HBO Sports. "We are delighted that sports fans recognized the greatness of these two future Hall of Famers and tuned in for their showdown. It's satisfying to see that boxing still connects with sports fans throughout the country and we are determined to continue to present high-profile fights that capture the public's imagination."

If you include the $19 million-plus live gate (another record) plus millions more in revenue from foreign TV sales, merchandising, sponsorships and closed circuit sales, the fight will gross in excess of $150 million.

"It is mind boggling, but it goes to show you the hard work everyone put into the promotion paid off," De La Hoya told ESPN.com. "Everyone did a tremendous job."

Greenburg also credited the success of HBO's "24/7" reality show that ran in a coveted Sunday night slot behind the "Sopranos" and "Entourage" for three weeks leading up to the fight with helping sell both the public and the media on its worth.

De La Hoya was guaranteed $23.3 million and Mayweather $10 million for the fight. With the overwhelming success of the event, De La Hoya could take home upwards of $50 million with Mayweather earning around $20 million.

"I'm particularly pleased that the fight reached 2.15 million buys on a weekend in which 'Spider-Man 3' established a new Hollywood box office record and the Kentucky Derby took place," HBO PPV's Mark Taffet said. "That puts in perspective the magnitude of it."

The pay-per-view tally also made De La Hoya the biggest pay-per-view attraction in history. His 18 pay-per-view events have generated $612 million in domestic television receipts, enabling him to leave Tyson ($545 million) and Holyfield ($543 million) in the dust.

De La Hoya's fights have also sold 12.55 million units. With the 2.15 million sold for this fight expected to increase, De La Hoya should surpass Holyfield's record of 12.6 million units. De La Hoya surpassed Tyson's 12.4 million total.

"When I was in Vegas I got the indications that we would break the first hurdle on Monday, when I knew we would do more than 1 million buys," Schaefer said. "Then on Tuesday, I knew we would break the Trinidad fight record. From there on we were in uncharted territory. Not only did we break the all-time record [non-heavyweight record], we went straight to home run with the biggest event in the history of the sport.

"If you think about it, for a non-heavyweight fight, to break the buy record, it shows you if you do the right fights, boxing is still very much alive."

De La Hoya has participated in each of the top six non-heavyweight pay-per view events in history. Fights on the list beside matches with Mayweather and Trinidad include those with Bernard Hopkins (1 million), a rematch with Shane Mosley (950,000), Fernando Vargas (935,000) and Ricardo Mayorga (935,000).

"The results of this fight are a tribute to Oscar and to Mayweather," Schaefer said. "It was a great team effort between HBO, Golden Boy and the sponsors, who are the key to the sport of boxing. Having corporate America in boxing again shows you what we can do. This is an amazing effort from the sponsors and also from the MGM.

"From the beginning, Oscar said, 'Let's reach for the stars and go for the home run.' To be involved as a four-year-old company and do this is a big feather in the Golden Boy cap. The key is now to build on it and show that this is not a one-night-only event, to learn from this and apply the formula to other events."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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