Canelo Alvarez's rousing unanimous decision victory over Miguel Cotto to win the world middleweight championship on Nov. 21 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas generated 900,000 buys and about $58 million in domestic pay-per-view revenue, HBO announced on Thursday.
It was a heavily anticipated fight between two of boxing's biggest stars -- set against the backdrop of the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry -- and they delivered an entertaining fight in the ring and a lucrative one at the box office.
"At 900,000 buys and $58 million in PPV revenue, Cotto-Canelo performed superbly," said HBO senior vice president Mark Taffet, who oversees the network's pay-per-view franchise. "Not since [Lennox] Lewis-[Mike] Tyson in 2002 has a pay-per-view fight generated at least 900,000 buys without featuring [Floyd] Mayweather, [Manny] Pacquiao or [Oscar] De La Hoya.
"It puts an exclamation point on the biggest year in pay-per-view history. I couldn't be more thrilled for boxing, Golden Boy, Roc Nation and the fans."
In most years, Cotto-Alvarez would have been the biggest-selling pay-per-view boxing event. But Mayweather-Pacquiao more than doubled the pay-per-view record by selling 4.6 million subscriptions on May 2.
Cotto-Alvarez more than doubled the career finale of Mayweather, who fought Andre Berto on Sept. 12 and struggled to sell just more than 400,000 units.
Other than Alvarez's fight with Mayweather and Cotto's fights with Mayweather and Pacquiao, the total was the best pay-per-view performance for both men.
"It was an incredibly strong performance in a historical context," Taffet said. "It's very significant for a fight to do 900,000 when it doesn't involve one of the biggest stars in the history of pay-per-view: Mayweather, De La Hoya, Pacquiao, Tyson and [Evander] Holyfield."
The sales total figures to be a big boost to Alvarez, already Mexico's biggest boxing star. His pay-per-view fights with Alfredo Angulo and Erislandy Lara sold in the in the mid-300,000 range, while his 2013 fight with Mayweather sold 2.2 million and generated $150 million, a record before Mayweather-Pacquiao broke it.
With Mayweather retired and Pacquiao slated for what is supposed to be his final fight on April 9, De La Hoya, the Golden Boy Promotions CEO, said the 25-year-old Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) is positioned to take the mantle from them as the face of boxing. He is already planning for Alvarez's next bouts to take place in May and September.
"Canelo is now officially the biggest star in all of boxing. Period," De La Hoya said. "And by committing to fight on Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day -- boxing's two biggest annual dates -- Canelo's popularity will only continue to soar for years to come."
With Cotto-Alvarez in the books, it also marks the end of Taffet's long HBO career. During his 32-year career at the network, he helped launch HBO PPV in 1991, when it was called TVKO, and is the industry's pay-per-view guru.
He has overseen more than 190 pay-per-view cards, which have generated more than 65 million buys and more than $3.6 billion in revenue, including the two biggest pay-per-view events in history: Mayweather-Pacquiao (done in conjunction with rival Showtime) and Mayweather-De La Hoya in 2007.
Taffet announced last week that he is leaving the network at the end of his contract on Dec. 31.
"I was fortunate to do [the first pay-per-view] Evander Holyfield-George Foreman and then have a few pretty good fights in between," Taffet said with a laugh. "So to end with Cotto-Canelo, it couldn't have been a more satisfying finale for me."