Does Boxing Have a Marketing Problem or a Star Problem?

With the 2022 boxing calendar about to kick into high gear with a series of captivating matches featuring the likes of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Tyson Fury and Errol Spence, fans might find themselves in a bind on which upcoming pay-per-view is right for them. Not all pay-per-views are built equally, and we’ll go over why some pay-per-views succeed, where others flounder, and what fights you’ll want to buy in the coming months.

Good fights on paper aren’t always guaranteed to sell

The big issue ahead of any pay-per-view is whether it’s worth the price tag to watch it. Prices fluctuate between $50-$80 on average, and with fights happening with a higher frequency as of late on the paid circuit. Great fights happen all the time, but not all those fights warrant the hefty price tag.

The upcoming Junior Lightweight fight between Shakur Stevenson and Oscar Valdez is a great bout between two young champions. Even so, this is the kind of fight that would benefit all parties involved and get more viewers on a regular platform. Pairing it with a stacked undercard would be the only way fans would pay a premium to watch it.

Poor timing, marketing and matchmaking will cause a pay-per-view to flop

Fans who have kept their eye on the Heavyweight division are sure to mark their calendars for April 23 when Tyson Fury faces off against Dillian Whyte. This fight is a guaranteed blockbuster for UK audiences and a potential Fight of the Year in the making. Yet, Whyte’s unwillingness to promote the fight is killing the buzz here in the US, where Whyte is not as well known.

Some fighters like Fury are pay-per-view attractions regardless of his opponent. With Whyte missing out on all promotional events to hype the fight, it ends up compromising the event’s success. Errol Spence also finds himself in a similar uphill battle with Yordenis Ugas. The reserved Spence has to carry the promotion on his own with Ugas only speaking Spanish, and having their pay-per-view air one week before Fury vs. Whyte on April 16.

Big names and high stakes lead to successful pay-per-views

The key behind any successful pay-per-view is having recognizable stars, strong marketing, and the perception of high-stakes. Some stars are pay-per-view attractions regardless of whom they fight. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has mastered marketing himself as the premier attraction in the sport. Alvarez often picks intriguing opponents and has a legion of supporters at ready every time he comes to the ring

Last year, Alvarez moved the needle in a big way by selling an estimated 800,000 buys for his November 2021 bout against Caleb Plant. That fight succeeded thanks to Alvarez’s popularity and the narrative that the winner would become the undisputed Super Middleweight champion. Alvarez has a can’t-miss fight against undefeated Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol coming on May 7.

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