The rematch this weekend between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin will undoubtedly turn out to be the biggest boxing event of the year. The main event features Alvarez, one of the most popular boxers in the sport today, facing Golovkin, a middleweight monster attempting to surpass Bernard Hopkins’ record of 20 straight 160-pound world title defenses.
In addition to the epic showdown between Alvarez and Golovkin for Golovkin’s WBA and WBC middleweight titles, the PPV includes three sizzling matchups as part of the televised undercard. Those three fights, Jaime Munguia vs. Brandon Cook, David Lemieux vs. Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan, and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez vs. Moises Fuentes, make Canelo vs. GGG 2 one of the best four-fight PPV cards in recent memory.
Canelo vs. GGG 2 begins live on HBO PPV at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT, and no matter how many people end up buying the fight on Saturday night, we’re all in for a fun night of boxing.
But just for fun, let’s dive into how many people might end up purchasing the fight and how the buyrate could stack up to other big fight weekends. To help us answer these questions, let’s first determine a reasonable pool of potential buyers.
In doing some research bout boxing PPVs over one million buys since 1990 for Gambling.com (), I tapped into some numbers I believe indicate how many people exist in the U.S. today who are potentially willing buyers for big boxing PPVs.
Based on buyrates for boxing PPVs that sold one million or more units since 1990, the average percentage of the American public willing to shell out their hard-earned money for the right fight was around 0.54 percent.
That percentage applied to the current U.S. population of 328.48 million (according to the U.S. Census Bureau) indicates the pool of potential willing buyers is somewhere around 1.7 million. The number grows to around 1.9 million if you only consider the average actual percentage of the population that purchased big fight PPVs since 2010.
So it’s reasonable to suggest that the right fight might generate somewhere around 1.7 to 1.9 million buys assuming it’s a bout between two elite box-office stars (but not a once-in-a-lifetime event such as Mayweather-Pacquiao or Mayweather-McGregor that can do even more).
Incidentally, utilizing the percentage of U.S. population that purchased the fight instead of just the raw number of buys also positions Mayweather-Pacquiao in first place as the biggest boxing PPV event ever over Mayweather-McGregor.
According to the data, 1.42 percent of the population bought Mayweather-Pacquiao while 1.32 percent purchased Mayweather-McGregor. Regardless, both events were huge outliers overall as the next closest event since 1990 was the 2007 battle between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather at 0.80 percent.
But what about the Alvarez vs. Golovkin rematch?
The September 2017 bout between Alvarez and Golovkin did 1.3 million buys. It was hailed as a “massive financial success” by some media outlets which was true considering it was the biggest selling boxing PPV event sans Floyd Mayweather since Manny Pacquiao’s third fight against Juan Manuel Marquez sold 1.4 million units in 2011.
But the reality of the comparison is that more of the available American public in 2011 purchased Pacquiao-Marquez 3 than did Alvarez-Golovkin in 2017. Pacquiao-Marquez 3 was bought by 0.45 percent of the 311.64 million people in the population. By comparison, only 0.40 percent bought Alvarez-Golovkin in 2017.
Still, if that same percentage of people ended up buying Alvarez-Golovkin 2, the people over at HBO would be very happy with the numbers. Using that methodology, the bout would slightly eclipse its predecessor at 1.31 million buys.
But a cautionary tale for those at the HBO offices who might throw premature celebratory parties. Because there is one other bit of data I learned from reviewing all these buy rates over the last 27 years.
Rematches almost alway do slightly lower numbers than the original fights. So with that knowledge in tow and using the abysmally purchased but relevant still statistically PPV fights between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev as as barometer, the number I suggest as buyrate for Alvarez vs. Golovkin 2 is somewhere between 1.00 and 1.20 million buys.
Here’s the fast math. Ward-Kovalev 2 moved 25 percent less units than the first fight did. Heck, Pacquiao-Marquez 4 moved almost 20 percent less than the third fight did, too. Both predecessors, Ward-Kovalev 1 and Pacquiao-Marquez 3, were terrific bouts. Neither mattered to the bottomline.
It’d be great to see the Alvarez vs. Golovkin rematch do 1.6 million buys. The more people who watch boxing is better for everyone involved in the sport. Hell, it’s even reasonable to suggest those involved with the promotion are right to hope, pray and say just about anything they can to help make it so.
But beyond promotional hype, there’s simply no data to suggest it will do anything but slightly worse than the original fight. The first fight sold out two months before the event. The rematch didn’t sell out until a few days. The first fight was soiled by the prevailing narrative that the draw was the wrong call. The rematch will be hard-pressed to make up for it.
Alvarez vs. Golovkin 2 will be the biggest fight of the year by all statistical measures. But Alvarez vs. Golovkin 2 will pale in comparison to other big fight PPVs of the past, and the final buyrate will only be an inkling of what the right big money boxing PPV is capable of achieving.