The return of welterweight Floyd Mayweather Jr., who easily outpointed Juan Manuel Marquez after 21 months in retirement last Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, generated an astonishing 1 million pay-per-view buys, HBO announced Friday.
Despite a fight many viewed as a mismatch between the bigger and faster Mayweather and the smaller and slower lightweight champion Marquez moving up in weight, the fight was a giant success on pay-per-view -- especially considering it went head-to-head with a UFC pay-per-view card. Many industry experts had expected a pay-per-view buy rate in the 600,000 to 700,000 range.
The fight generated $52 million in domestic pay-per-view revenue and is only the fifth time in boxing PPV history that a nonheavyweight event has reached seven figures.
Mayweather has participated in two of them. His May 2005 split decision victory against Oscar De La Hoya set the all-time record, generating 2.44 million buys.
"I am truly humbled by the numbers, and I appreciate all of the sports fans who either came to the fight or bought it on pay-per-view," Mayweather said in a statement. "It felt great to be back in the ring and next time I will be even better."
The million buys was derived from 525,000 from cable homes and 475,000 from satellite homes.
In the fight before announcing his retirement, Mayweather came close to the magic million number, generating 920,000 domestic buys for his welterweight championship defense against Ricky Hatton in December 2007. In his three other pay-per-view appearances, Mayweather had generated totals of 375,000 (Zab Judah), 365,000 (Arturo Gatti) and 325,000 (Carlos Baldomir).
"Sept. 19 was an event that connected with sports fans across the country," HBO PPV chief Mark Taffet said. "Floyd Mayweather has clearly reinforced his standing as a top attraction and fans are excited about his return to the sport."
Marquez had appeared twice previously in HBO PPV headline fights, generating 405,000 buys for his 2008 split-decision loss to Manny Pacquiao and 230,000 buys for his 2007 decision win against Marco Antonio Barrera.
HBO will replay Mayweather-Marquez on Saturday (10 p.m. ET) along with live coverage of the Vitali Klitschko-Cristobal Arreola heavyweight title bout from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, the Nevada State Athletic Commission reported that the live gate for Mayweather-Marquez was $6,811,300, generated from 12,009 tickets sold.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.