Thanks to the success of a four-episode HBO series and an extensive promotional push, Saturday night’s Floyd Mayweather Jr.- Oscar De La Hoya boxing match is looking more and more like the mega-event HBO Sports and the sport of boxing was hoping for.
While no one at HBO wants to make predictions, the event between the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighter in Mayweather and its most marketable in De La Hoya could make a run at the all-time non-heavyweight pay per view record of 1.4 million buys (for De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad in 1999).
But up against competition from the Kentucky Derby and the NBA playoffs this weekend, Saturday’s fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is dominating much of the buzz in the sports world, including a rare boxing cover for Sports Illustrated.
But even that magazine’s jinx shouldn’t be able to prevent a massive pay per view audience for HBO, even with a hefty $54.95 price tag.
With the sport of boxing on the ropes right now in the absence of many big names in the heavyweight division that usually drives the sport’s popularity, this weekend’s fight should at least eclipse the one million buy mark, a stellar figure for a non-heavyweight bout.
The buzz has not been by accident, though, as pre-fight hype included a coast-to-coast media tour with well-attended events in 11 cities.
But perhaps the biggest push for the fight has come from HBO Sports’ acclaimed four-episode behind-the-scenes series leading up to Saturday’s fight. HBO gave De La Hoya/Mayweather 24/7 prime real estate for the last three Sunday nights, airing it immediately after the network’s 1-2 punch of The Sopranos and Entourage.
The result was an average of 1.2 million viewers for those three airings. With all of the re-airs taken into account, the first two airings drew 4.1 million viewers.
The fourth and final installment of the series was set to air Thursday night.