COMMENTARY | In the fast-paced world of modern news reporting, it has to be accepted that there will be a much greater margin of error. In an era where journalists are plugged into social media, the temptation exists to post every thought on to a Twitter or Facebook timeline for public consumption. A minor buzz or rhetorical question immediately passes from hand to hand, becoming an actual news event-regardless of the level of accuracy behind it.
This may have been the case with the Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero pay-per-view card May 4 and the subsequent reports of disappointing preliminary sales figures.
On Tuesday, just about sixty hours after the card went off the air and less than two business days after the event, ESPN's Dan Rafael tweeted that two industry insiders had told him that buy numbers looked "bad" and that the total would fall under the one million mark.
However, more complete reports Friday afternoon, according to Showtime head of sports programming, Stephen Espinoza, are showing that Mayweather-Guerrero may comfortably exceed a million buys.
"I'm surprised at the amount of mischaracterizations, unfounded assumptions and wrong information that has been circulating," Espinoza told USA Today. "The reality is that before today it would have been irresponsible to make any assumptions on the pay-per-view buys. The information just wasn't there.
"In this case, the information we received through the end of this week tells us is that we are definitely going to exceed a million buys."
Regardless of how much over the million mark they get, the total will still fall well short of Mayweather's last pay-per-view bout against Miguel Cotto, which had a buy total of about 1.5 million. But there are tons of mitigating circumstances to explain why the Cotto bout far surpassed the Guerrero affair.
A quicker than usual press campaign for this event would be shortened even further by a self-imposed Guerrero news blackout following the fighter's arrest for gun possession at New York's JFK Airport.
Even under the best of circumstances, though, the soft-spoken, relatively unknown Guerrero would've been a tough sell. Spending much of his career in the poorly-publicized lower weight divisions, Guerrero had just barely made his welterweight debut in July of last year and had never been part of a truly major card. And whereas Miguel Cotto brings a rabidly loyal Puerto Rican fan base with him every time he fights, Guerrero had never really connected with the hardcore Mexican and Mexican-American fight fans. Despite a career's worth of good wins and legitimate accomplishment, Guerrero just wasn't a bankable star as he walked into the biggest fight of his career.
It appeared to be an odd choice for the first bout of Mayweather's historic six-fight, thirty-month deal with Showtime, but the landscape of available opposition may have made Guerrero the only reasonable choice. Amir Khan had been knocked off his pedestal as a top attraction and guys like Devon Alexander or Paulie Malignaggi would likely have been a bust, both competitively and in terms of drawing power. Guerrero, with a fan friendly style and positive public image, made the most sense out of the batch of available talent.
Of course, the bout turned out to be a relatively one-sided romp that only served to fuel critics of Mayweather's opponent selection. And when rumors started of a poorly-selling pay-per-view, the negative buzz was gleefully spread all over the internet.
If the fight does go on to pass the million mark, it will truly be a testament to Mayweather's star power and ability to draw a crowd. Whether they tune in to see him get his comeuppance or watch him for his absolute brilliance in the ring, it appears as though Mayweather still inspires buys.
From this apparent close call, though, all parties seemed to have learned their lessons. According to reports, Showtime, Team Mayweather, and Golden Boy took little time off and are already discussing Mayweather's September date.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
Source: USA Today
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- Miguel Cotto