Some of the best fights in the last quarter century wound up buried on unbelievably long Don King-promoted pay-per-view cards.
Ask King how he thought a pay-per-view would perform, and he'd invariably reply, "a million," regardless of reality. The truth is that the vast majority of them never threatened a million, despite the quality and depth of the undercards King and matchmaker Bobby Goodman made.
And that issue brings us to the undercard for the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez pay-per-view show on Sept. 14 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. Right now, no bouts are signed for it.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told Yahoo! Sports on Friday that he is committed to an excellent undercard, though he would not confirm any names.
But Schaefer hinted about the still-to-be-signed super lightweight bout between Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse landing on the pay-per-view. That fight has the potential to be Fight of the Year and should be a brawl even if it fails to live up to billing. It could be mind-blowing if it turns out the way boxing insiders expect.
Schaefer said he wanted to give fans who choose to buy the pay-per-view, which in this case will cost $65 for standard definition and $75 for high definition, value for their money.
"We at Golden Boy have, I think, over the last two or three years certainly put on the best undercards of any promoter," Schaefer said. "I've learned and I now truly believe it is extremely important to give the fans who stay home and watch the show compelling fights prior to the main event."
There are few more compelling fights that could be made in boxing than one between Garcia and Matthysse. Schaefer said he's working on finalizing that match, and said "I'm very confident," it will be done.
But when it came to where it might end up, Schaefer was a lot more cagey. But he dropped more than a few hints that he'd like it to end up as the chief undercard bout for Mayweather-Alvarez.
"I'm very confident I'll get a deal to make that fight," Schaefer said of Garcia-Matthysse. "It's about finding the right spot, finding the right money, figuring out how to structure it and that sort of thing. That's what is holding it up now. Sadly, we live in an environment where if I say too much about a fight, there are people out there who will try to [mess] it up, so the less I say the better.
"Since I made the Mayweather-Canelo fight, the single most-asked question I get is 'When are you going to make the Garcia-Matthysse fight?' I want to see that fight, too, so let me see what I can do. There are reasons for it to be on that card, and there are reasons for it not to be. I have a vision for [the Mayweather-Canelo undercard] and let's see what I can do."
Garcia-Matthysse is going to be an expensive fight, and will require millions of dollars to make, making it the kind of fight that usually gets its own date rather than winding up on pay-per-view.
But adding that bout to the pay-per-view card will have a significant impact on the business. There will be casual fans, who only watch one or two fights a year, who buy the Mayweather-Canelo show. If they get Garcia-Matthysse as the appetizer, it could cinch them as regular buyers. It would be a sort of, 'Look what you've been missing,' type of moment. Expanding the hard-core fan base is always a good thing for a promoter.
After having covered pay-per-view bouts for more than 20 years, and understanding how difficult it is to sell 1 million PPVs for a show, let alone 2 million, Yahoo! Sports predicted 1.75 million when Mayweather-Alvarez was announced.
Given the difficulty of selling pay-per-views, a Garcia-Matthysse bout likely wouldn't sell 250,000 if it were a PPV headliner. But, in an odd way, it might help add that many to Mayweather-Canelo.
The public perception is that Mayweather-Canelo is big, and it is clearly a fight that translates beyond the hard-core boxing audience. Putting Garcia-Matthysse on that undercard would generate enormous media attention within the boxing community, and that would boost the impression that Mayweather-Canelo is a massive, must-watch show.
If Garcia-Matthysse could add 250,000 pay-per-view sales to Mayweather-Canelo -- and admittedly, that's a big number -- it would add $16.25 million revenue that would have gone unrealized, based on an average of $65 per PPV price (The extra $10 for the high definition goes to the cable, satellite and telephone companies).
Of that $16.25 million, the first 50 or 55 percent would, off the top, go to the cable/satellite industry. That would leave the promotion with around an $8 million extra, which would be way more than enough to pay for the Garcia-Matthysse fight while adding a little profit.
Of course, it could just turn out to be a negative, if the fight doesn't add much to the pay-per-view bottom line. That's just as possible, despite how great a fight it would be.
Still, you have to love Schaefer's willingness to say he wants to give the fans who buy the show value for their dollar. Nothing would do that more than by adding Garcia-Matthysse as the chief undercard bout.