He didn't become the first non-heavyweight boxer to attract 1 million pay-per-view buys in back-to-back fights, but unbeaten welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. came close enough for HBO executives to proclaim "a new road has been opened for the sport."
Mayweather's 10th-round technical knockout of previously unbeaten Ricky Hatton of Britain on Dec. 8 in Las Vegas produced 850,000 pay-per-view buys worth $47 million in revenue, HBO officials said Monday.
"Mayweather-Hatton became the biggest pay-per-view bout not to feature either [Mike] Tyson, [Evander] Holyfield or Oscar De La Hoya; it's an incredible achievement," said Mark Taffet, HBO Pay Per View senior vice president. "Floyd Mayweather has arrived now outside the ring too."
Taffet said Mayweather-Hatton easily exceeded two other successful bouts not to include the three most successful pay-per-view fighters of the last decade: the Roy Jones Jr.-John Ruiz heavyweight title fight in 2003, and the Felix Trinidad-Fernando Vargas super-welterweight bout of 2000.
Fought before an excited pro-Hatton crowd of 16,500 at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mayweather-Hatton generated $57.5 million in live gate and pay-per-view revenue alone, with heavy closed-circuit and merchandise sales yet to be reported.
In May, Mayweather's split-decision victory over De La Hoya netted a record 2.4 million pay-per-view buys, helping HBO Pay Per View produce its most lucrative year in boxing, with a total of 4.8 million buys and more than $255 million in revenue, the cable network reported.
The previous record was 1999, with 4 million buys and $200 million in revenue. The sport's comeback from a downturn was seen in the 2006 pay-per-view numbers: 3.7 million buys and $177 million in revenue.