Promoter Oscar De La Hoya called WBC middleweight champion the biggest star in boxing Thursday after HBO Sports reported that the Alvarez-Miguel Cotto bout on Nov. 21 sold 900,000 pay-per-view units and generated $58 million in sales.
The number came in higher than expected. Numerous sources within the boxing and television industries set the figure at between 625,000 and 650,000. But Mark Taffet, the outgoing senior vice president at HBO Sports, was willing to publicly put his name on a larger number.
In a statement he emailed to Yahoo Sports, Taffet raved about the fight's performance.
"At 900,000 buys and $58 million in PPV revenue, Cotto-Canelo performed superbly," Taffet said in his statement. "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 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."
It was a light year as far as pay-per-view boxing was concerned. The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight on May 2 in Las Vegas sold a record 4.6 million on pay-per-view, nearly doubling the record Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya set when they sold 2.5 million for their 2007 fight. The Mayweather-Pacquiao was originally announced as 4.4 million, but as sales reports have continued to trickle in, it has gone slightly over 4.6 million.
Yahoo announced that Mayweather-Pacquiao was the most-searched sports moment in 2015.
There were only two other pay-per-views of note other than Canelo-Cotto in 2015. Mayweather's Sept. 12 fight with Andre Berto sold roughly 400,000, while the Oct. 17 middleweight fight between Gennady Golovkin and David Lemieux did 150,000.
Alvarez is set for several big fights in 2016, including a hotly anticipated middleweight unification bout with Golovkin. The sales figures for the Cotto fight led De La Hoya to trumpet Alvarez as boxing's No. 1 star in the wake of Mayweather's retirement and Manny Pacquiao's impending goodbye to the sport.
"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."