Manny Pacquiao also a PPV champion
Manny Pacquiao already holds the record for winning titles in eight weight classes. Now, he has tied a record in the pay-per-view world.
Pacquiao matched former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson as the only fighter in pay-per-view history to generate at least 1 million buys for a fight in three consecutive years. HBO announced Tuesday that Pacquiao's one-sided battering of Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium to win a vacant junior middleweight title -- his record-extending eighth -- generated at least 1.15 million buys and $64 million domestic pay-per-view revenue.
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The number HBO reported is only an initial figure, with the total likely to rise once the buys are fully accounted for.
"We're thrilled with the PPV performance," said HBO senior vice president Mark Taffet, who runs HBO PPV. "With the breadth of interest from sports, entertainment and news media following Manny and the fight, boxing has tremendous momentum as we finish 2010 and head into a very exciting 2011."
Pacquiao's lopsided eighth-round destruction of Oscar De La Hoya, which sent him into retirement, generated 1.25 million buys in 2008. Pacquiao's 12th-round knockout of Miguel Cotto in 2009 sold 1.2 million units.
"This is the third consecutive year that a Manny Pacquiao megafight has exceeded 1 million buys and he has generated 5.1 million buys over his last five fights -- true measures of his PPV superstar status," Taffet said.
Pacquiao's other 2010 fight, a lopsided decision against Joshua Clottey at Cowboys Stadium in March, generated 700,000 buys. That fight was made on short notice and Clottey was a virtual unknown.
"I think the fight with Margarito did very, very well and we are constantly trying to figure out how to better our performances," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said. "Considering where we were when we announced the fight, nobody would have believed we would have done this. They said Margarito was disgraced and people talked about boycotting it."
Arum was referring to the scandal that engulfed Margarito, who had been caught in January 2009 of trying to enter his fight against Shane Mosley with loaded hand wraps. He was caught, had his license revoked by California regulators and became a pariah before Texas granted him a license to fight Pacquiao.
After Tyson was released from prison, he also did huge numbers for fights from 1995 to 1997. The total for Pacquiao-Margarito is the second-biggest pay-per-view of the year. Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s May win against Shane Mosley generated 1.4 million.
Of course, the biggest fight in boxing would match Pacquiao, the pound-for-pound king, with Mayweather. However, two rounds of negotiations have failed. When Mayweather rejected an offer to fight him on Nov. 13, Margarito was tapped instead.
Arum is proud of the fact that Pacquiao, who is from the Philippines, has become a major star in the United States.
"That's one of the achievements we can take credit for -- taking a non-American and crossing him over," Arum said. "Can we do more? Yeah. Nobody would have dreamed that you could take a fighter from the Philippines and make him into an iconic American star and we've been able to do that. Most of the credit goes to Pacquiao, but we've been able to do that and now we have to improve on what we've done.
"It's a work in progress. It's one thing to do big numbers fighting Oscar De La Hoya, who always did big numbers. It's another doing them on his own, which he is now apparently able to do. One of the ways to put it into the stratosphere is to make the Mayweather fight, but that is out of my control.
"I hope that is the next fight."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.