Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s Sept. 19 return to boxing after a 21-month absence was a phenomenal success, both in the ring and at the box office.
HBO on Friday released figures showing that Mayweather's one-sided victory over Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas was purchased by a much higher than expected 1 million pay-per-view subscribers. It accounted for $52 million in pay-per-view revenue.
The Mayweather-Marquez results beat UFC 103, which was on pay-per- view the same night. Though the Ultimate Fighting Championship does not release its pay-per-view figures, indications from industry sources are strong that the boxing card had a better than 2-to-1 advantage.
Many critics had dismissed Mayweather's 2007 pay-per-view success against Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton as a fluke, crediting the popularity of De La Hoya and Hatton with the bulk of the sales.
The May 5, 2007, Mayweather-De La Hoya bout set a pay-per-view record, selling 2.44 million units. Mayweather's next bout against Hatton, on Dec. 8, 2007, sold just under 1 million units.
Fighting for the first time since announcing his retirement on June 6, 2008, Mayweather won 33 of 36 scored rounds against Marquez, who had been ranked No. 2 on the Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound rankings entering the fight.
Many critics, including rival promoter Bob Arum and UFC president Dana White, predicted the fight would perform poorly. Arum suggested Mayweather would make no money after he paid an existing tax debt, paid his expenses and his taxes due on his current purse. White repeatedly vowed UFC 103 would outsell the boxing card.