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PREDICTION PAGE: How Many PPV Buys Will #CottoCanelo Do?

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TUESDAY UPDATE: TSS has been told that the Canelo Alvarez-Miguel Cotto event did over one million buys on pay-per-view.

Good number, I asked one of the two people who said that the PPV hit over a million with a dog in the hunt?

“Very good,” I was told.

Now, this is not an exact science. Different folks will give you different numbers. The numbers sometimes get spun, but of course.

Projections and guesses, from ultra-insiders to “in the know” media,  were all over the map, from 1.5 million, down to 500,000.

Being that the last Floyd Mayweather PPV, against Andre Berto, did 400,000 plus buys, well, I do think this fan reaction, if indeed projections play out to over 1 million buys,  serves as good news to the crews involved, Golden Boy and Canelo.

Less certain is the reaction to that number from Roc Nation, Cotto’s promotional outfit. If they guaranteed Cotto $16 million, we’d have to hear from them on how they perceive this news…

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Strange time in boxing, as the exit, sorta exit, because his presence hangs over the sport, of Floyd Mayweather has left a vacuum. It needs to be filled…but Mayweather is a singular sort, a product of this age, where narcissism is now more so than ever revered, and obscene revenue collection is the same.

This weird aura is the context for tonight’s Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez clash. On surface, it would be something to get excited about. And more so than I might have thought, there are mixed feelings, among media, among fans, for #CaneloCotto.

We’ve gone over some reasons for that, and can add that MMA grabbed buzz–and I think proved there’s more of an overlap in fanbase between the two sports–in the last two weeks which probably usurped some from this super fight.

In my bubble, I see and hear almost more interest on how this fight is going to do, business-wise, than in how it will play out in the ring.

I chatted with some of my in-the-business buddies, to get a sense of that, because, well, you all seem quite curious about this facet of the event.

“I think this fight will do just under one million buys,” one industry big, with many decades under his belt, told me. I reminded him that the Mayweather-Berto thing did between 400-500,000 buys…

“I believe it does 650,000 but would not be shocked if it did 750-800,000…not would I be shocked if it only did 500,000.”

“Mr. X” said that there are seats to be bought at every price level, and “normally the gate reflects what the PPV will do.”

I reached out to Mr. Y, an expert on the PPV sphere. “I think it does about 750,000 buys,” our man said. He is usually right in the proverbial ballpark with his guesstimates…

Mr. X said competition is fierce for eyeballs, with NBA, NHL, college football and the holidays taking away from boxing buzz. It got me thinking…Is this PPV model dying? Would its death be bad for boxing? “No, it would be great for boxing fans,” X said. He noted that fans of all the “big” sports don’t ask the rooters to pony up extra to watch the good stuff. “All those sports have millions more fans than boxing does,” he said. “Boxing fans are getting tired of paying for pay-per-view. They say eff it, I will watch it for free next week.”

I don’t disagree; too often, we’re seeing fights being made as infomercials, as buildups to the grand finale, the PPV. The informercial fights aren’t pick ’ems, and fans want and deserve pick ems…

“I believe this model is dying,” X reiterated. He said as far as he knows, Cotto gets to keep the take from buys in Puerto Rico, so the event has to get like 1.2 million buys, or his promoter, Roc Nation, will be in dismal spirits. Cotto, he thinks, is guaranteed about $16 million for this fight, so lots of people have to buy this tangle for Roc to recoup. Maybe a better guarantee for Cotto would be between $6-8 million, X says. “Maybe it will be fight of the year and they get massive buys and I will be wrong…time will tell us within the next four days.”

And if you think a barn-burner and then a rematch would guarantee financial success, X pointed out that again, Cotto’s guarantee makes it hard for Roc to recoup. (Then again, we don’t know if they NEED to recoup. Maybe Jay Z is willing to be in the red for two, three, or more years, while he’s building towards an elevated place in the promotional sphere. And by the way, there is no shortage of chatter being directed at Jay for his lack of promoting. I asked someone at Roc about that. They think that chatter is hoo-hah, and the guy called the anti-Jay barbs “bush league.”)

“Oh, and Roc Nation has Rigo and Ward…neither is a big ticket seller, both are not PPV fighters…”

Bottom line, he sees high hurdles for Roc Nation, whose three big guns are charisma-challenged, not an easily forgivable sin in the social media age, where you have to rise above to cut through the chatter cluster.

I spoke to Mr. Z, a top tier dealmaker with no dog in the hunt. “I think this PPV does way less than expected,” Z said. “PPV is dead. Do you feel any heat on the East Coast? On social media?”

Hmm…point taken…but I have to assume there is much more in Latino pockets, yes?” True,” he conceded. We both agree that there is a real continuing blowback from #MayPac, as casuals felt burned by the overhype/under-deliver. Floyd’s next PPV tanked and then bigwigs expected Golovkin-Lemieux to do much better. Shall we blame Floyd? Well, when I do informal polling, talk to cabbies, and delivery guys and waiters, many of them told me they felt burned by #MayPac, and “never again!”

A West Coast deal-maker weighed in with a guess; Mr. WC said he thinks #CottoCanelo does between 450-500,000 buys, nothing close to the 1.5 million Canelo promoter Oscar De La Hoya talked about getting a week ago. Yesterday, Oscar told Andreas Hale that if #CottoCanelo ran before #MayPac, “This fight probably would have done the same as my fight with Mayweather with around 2.5 million buys.”

“750,000 would be a home run,” said WC, again with many decades in the biz under his belt. “I believe it’s going to be down for awhile,” WC said. “The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight really put a dent in it!”

We talked about if Al Haymon will steer away from the PPV model, or stick to it. “I think his hands are full with free TV,” WC stated. But I do think Haymon realizes that the PPV focus hampers long term growth, as it speaks to the rabid but small fan base. If he can be instrumental in making boxing less of an outlaw sport, so it enjoys the same revenue streams the “Big 4” sports enjoy, then there would be no need to stay glued to the structure which asks fans to pony up an extra $70 any time they want to watch the “best” matches.

Fans, drop your prediction about buy numbers in our Forum..and talk about reasons why this fight does better, or worse, than opiners are saying.

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Remembering ‘Rocky Estafire,’ One Tough Syrian

Ted Sares

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On Sept. 9, 1978, a Bayonne, New Jersey brawler who was billed as Rocky Estafire when he was first starting out, stopped slick Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts in Jersey City giving notice that he was becoming a force to be reckoned with in the middleweight division. Watts was no slouch having split a pair with Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

”Strictly LaMotta style,” said Paddy Flood of his fighter who would come to be known by his real name, Mustafa Hamsho.

In 1980, he beat undefeated Wilford Scypion and followed that up with close wins over Curtis Parker and Alan Minter in 1981 leading to his first of two title clashes with Hagler. This bloody encounter, won by Hagler on an 11th-round TKO, left both fighters needing stiches.

“Throughout Hagler’s nonstop, 11th-round barrage, Hamsho kept coming on. He didn’t win a round, but he did take the battle of the stitches, 55-5,” wrote Pat Putnam in Sports Illustrated. “I don’t know what his corner was waiting for…The meat from his eyes was hanging down. But I can’t let that bother me. I just have to think, better him than me,” said Hagler.

More from Putnam: “When Hagler had left the hospital, the doctors were still working over Hamsho, who, until his trainer, Al Braverman, jumped into the ring to stop the fight, looked as though he would run out of blood before he ran out of heart. He was badly cut under both brows: Each wound was at least two inches long and half an inch wide. There was another slice under his left eye. He didn’t win a round from any of the three officials.”

Al Braverman, who co-managed Hamsho with the aforementioned Flood, once described the Syrian’s style as follows: “….”He’s got no style. He just wades in, throwing punches from any angle.”  He also possessed great stamina, a granite chin and incredible courage, along with head and shoulder butts, elbows, low blows, shoves, holding, chops behind the head, and whatever he could get away with.

The Matinee Idol

Bobby Czyz was 20-0 when he met Hamsho at the Convention Center in Atlantic City on Nov. 20, 1982. The undefeated New Jersey lad with the somewhat strange moniker of “Matinee Idol” and the high IQ had solid wins over Danny Long, Teddy Mann, Oscar Albarado, Elisha Obed, and Robbie Sims. Against Hamsho he was stepping up in class but he was a solid opponent for the Syrian who was 34-2-2 coming in.

If Bobby won, he would position himself for a shot at Marvelous Marvin, but Hamsho mauled and mugged the future world light heavyweight champion over ten rounds and won a convincing UD. (The rest of the Bobby Czyz story is told in “The Boxer Who Became a Bagger,” a remarkable and poignant article by sports columnist Steve Politi that first appeared in the Newark Star-Ledger.)

Wilfred Benitez

HIs UD victory over Wilfred Benitez (45-2-1) in 1883 was pure Hamsho featuring elbows, butts, and low blows. The third round was difficult to watch as the compact Syrian rendered a brutal beating on “El Radar,” using accurate nonstop shots coming from all directions. Between slips and knockdowns, Wilfred hit the deck four times.

Clearly, Benitez had faded, but Hamsho hastened the process and helped point the legendary Puerto Rican in a downward direction. Wilfred looked sluggish and poorly conditioned; he was not the same Benitez who knocked out Maurice Hope in spectacular fashion or out-boxed Roberto Duran for 15 rounds. Something was wrong.

But even in top shape, Benitez would have struggled against Hamsho with his mauling, brawling, non-stop pressure. Hamsho could make anyone look bad.  (Wilfred Benitez would lose several more outings after the Hamsho beatdown. Matthew Hilton finished the job with a terrifying KO in 1986. Wilfred’s story is a terribly sad one as he now requires constant care.)

Hamsho would lose another fight with Hagler—this time quickly and badly– and then go 6-2 before retiring in 1989 with a record of 44-5-2.

Those who were fortunate enough to see him fight remember a fan-pleasing, all-action combination of Vito Antuofermo, Michael Katsidis, Antonio Margarito, and Gene Fullmer.

Amir Khan and Prince Naseem Hamed are two very high profile, proud Muslim fighters. Mustafa Hamsho’s name can be added.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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Miguel Madueno Scores His 12th Straight Knockout at Ontario, Calif

David A. Avila

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Ontario, CA — A return of fans to the Inland Empire saw Mexico’s Miguel Madueno extend his consecutive knockout streak to a dozen at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California on Friday.

It was the first fan-filled event for a Thompson Boxing card in the “I.E.” in almost two years.

Lightweight contender Madueno (26-0, 24 KOs) of Culiacan powered his way to his 12th consecutive knockout and this came at the expense of fellow Mexican Jose Luis Rodriguez (25-15-1, 13 KOs) with a focused attack to the body.

Rodriguez was clever and tough and would not allow Madueno to overwhelm him during the first four rounds. But in the fifth he was not as lucky as a four-punch barrage to the body sent him to one knee. He beat the count but was overwhelmed by Madueno who forced referee Raul Caiz to end the fight at 2:46 of the fifth round.

“In reality I thought I would end it early,” said Madueno about seeking an early knockout. “But he could take it.”

In the co-main event Japan’s Katsuma Akitsugi (7-0) outhustled Northern California’s Eros Correa (10-1) after eight rounds in a bantamweight scrap to win by majority decision.

Akitsugi, a southpaw, and Correa both showed quick hands and good chins. But the Japanese fighter was always on attack and Correa resorted to holding from the second round on. He was never warned by the referee for excessive holding. It could have helped him get back in the fight.

Every time Akitsugi entered the danger zone Correa would grab ahold like an MMA fighter instead of fighting on the inside. While Correa held Akitsugi punched and that proved the difference as two judges scored it 78-74 for Akitsugi, while a third saw it 76-76.

“I could not box my style at all,” said Akitsugi, 23. “I’m glad I brought the win home.”

Other Bouts

San Bernardino’s Esteban Munoz (5-1, 3 KOs) knocked out Tijuana’s Manuel Martinez (6-5-4) with a body shot in the first round. He could not beat the count. Munoz had stunned Martinez earlier with a counter right. Then he found an opening to the body and delivered a right to the gut and down went Martinez. He was counted out at 1:50 of the first round.

Coachella’s Lazaro Vargas (4-0) out-worked Ulises Rosales (0-5) over four rounds of a super bantamweight match to win by unanimous decision 40-36 on all three cards.

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Oscar Rivas is Boxing’s First Bridgerweight Champ; Tops Spunky Ryan Rozicki

Arne K. Lang

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Back in January, the World Boxing Council announced that they were creating a new weight division. Tailored to boxers weighing between 200 and 224 pounds, they named it Bridgerweight. Tonight, at the Olympia Theatre in Montreal, the first WBC bridgerweight champion was crowned. Montreal-based Oscar Rivas, a 2008 Olympian representing his native Columbia, turned the trick with a unanimous 12-round decision over fellow Canadian Ryan Rozicki, advancing his record to 28-1 (19).

Rozicki, who is from Nova Scotia, out-performed expectations. Although he had knocked out all 13 of his opponents since turning pro in 2016, he hadn’t defeated anyone of note and hadn’t fought beyond six rounds. He drew the assignment when Rivas’s original opponent Bryant Jennings was scratched because of his refusal to accept Canada’s COVID protocols for unvaccinated foreigners. (A match between Rivas and Jennings would have been a rematch of their Jan. 18, 2019 contest in Verona, New York, a rather ho-hum match that had a dramatic ending when Rivas turned up the heat in the 12th round.)

Rivas, 34, was making his second start since suffering his lone defeat, a setback on points in a 12-round contest with Dillian Whyte in London. The heavier man by 19 pounds, he dominated the first two frames, rocking Rozicki in the opening stanza, but the Nova Scotian clawed his way back into the fight. Rivas had a strong penultimate round and although he had a point deducted for holding in the final stanza, it did not factor into the outcome. The judges had it 116-111 and 115-112.

What’s next for Oscar Rivas? Logically a bout with Evgeny Romanov. A 36-year-old Russian with a 16-0 (11-0 mark), Romanov was ranked #2 behind Rivas in the WBC’s latest set of bridgerweight rankings. Romanov’s claim to fame is that he TKOed Deontay Wilder is in amateur days, but that was way back in 2008.

Another possibility, and one likely to attract more buzz, would be a bout with Alen Babic. A 30-year-old Brit by way of Croatia, the colorful, free-swinging Babic (8-0, 8 KOs) has a date later this month in London with Texas trial horse Eric Molina.

The best guess, however, is that Rivas will discard the belt and go back to competing as a heavyweight. The bridgerweight title, we suspect, like many of the lesser titles, will be perpetually vacant, which likely wouldn’t trouble the WBC at all as they will gather up a sanctioning fee from a bridgerweight title fight whether there is an incumbent or not.

There were two 8-rounders offering chief support, but both were cancelled when the opponents failed to pass muster. Left in the lurch were “A side” Canadians Sebastien Bouchard, a welterweight, and Steve Rolls, a middleweight.

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