Earlier I wrote about the baffling decision by Floyd Mayweather Jr. to take on British fighter Amir Khan, which is heavily reported as being a done deal. I don’t feel it will be competitive for a number of reasons I discussed earlier, of course, but something kept bothering me as well.
Mayweather, coming off the biggest boxing PPV of the modern era, has no where to go from here but down on a pure financial basis. But how much of a proverbial haircut is he going to take on this? In other words … if Khan has no chance to beat Mayweather, how will this pay per view event perform?
That is an excellent question. If you believe that most pay per view buyers are purchasing the pay per views for the possibility of seeing the pound for pound king dethroned, then you would think the choice of Khan as the opponent is not a wise one. Additionally, Khan’s level of exposure has not been that great recently. In his last two HBO appearances, in 2011 and 2012, Khan suffered the losses to Peterson and Garcia. The Molina bout was televised live on Showtime but that was in December 2012 when television viewership was low. Then the Diaz bout was televised on Showtime on tape-delay in the late-night hours following Garcia’s victory against Judah and was up against a card on HBO that featured Sergio Martinez defending the middleweight championship and a good heavyweight bout between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne.
On top of that, Khan threw away a beautiful opportunity to gain valuable exposure and rehabilitate his image. Earlier this year, he was in negotiations to challenge Devon Alexander for the latter’s IBF welterweight title in a fight that would have headlined this weekend’s card at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. Instead of taking the fight, where a win over the talented southpaw boxer from St. Louis would have solidified Khan as a world class welterweight worthy of a shot at Mayweather, Khan opted for the safe route and chose not to fight. This decision has turned off some fans for two reasons: one is that they continue to believe he is not worthy of a Mayweather bout and two, he is seen as a hypocrite because he previously harshly criticized Timothy Bradley for ducking him to pursue a more lucrative fight with Pacquiao and he is now doing the same exact thing to Alexander.
That said, Mayweather is, without a doubt, the pay per view king. He is coming off of an over 2 million buys event against Canelo Alvarez. Additionally, earlier this year, he sold somewhere between 875,000 and 1 million buys (depending on if you believe Mayweather and Showtime Sports chief Stephen Espinoza or the multitude of boxing writers and their sources who dispute their claims) for his bout with Robert Guerrero. That bout lacked a proper promotion and Guerrero did not have a high public profile.
If the thought is that Mayweather can sell 1 million pay per views in the United States despite who he fights then Khan’s profile really doesn’t matter.
If you open the analysis to overseas success, where the fight will be pay per view in the United Kingdom, Khan’s popularity in the British isles and with Muslim countries, could produce additional revenue streams that were lacking in Mayweather’s bouts with his 2012 opponents who were Mexican-American and Mexican respectively. While Khan may have little to no shot to defeat Mayweather he will participate in what is sure to be another successful promotion.
It should also be noted that this bout would be the third in Mayweather’s six fight Showtime deal and will allow the network and promoters time to find another star or stars on the level of Alvarez to allow fights four, five and six to be even more successful.