Promoter: 1 million pay-per-view buys suddenly a possibility for Errol Spence vs. Mikey Garcia title fight

Combat columnist
Yahoo Sports

DALLAS — Richard Schaefer has been involved in boxing for more than two decades and knows as much as anyone how difficult it is to sell pay-per-views.

The consensus has been that Saturday’s IBF welterweight title fight at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, between champion Errol Spence Jr. and Mikey Garcia might do 300,000, or slightly more.

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Schaefer said anyone who believes today that the fight will only sell 300,000 on pay-per-view is foolish.

“Could it reach a million homes? I dare to say it. I dare to say it,” said Schaefer, whose Ringstar Sports is co-promoting Saturday’s bout. “If you would have asked me a week ago, I would have said ‘no.’ If you ask today if it is possible, ‘yes.’

“If that person would have told me a week or 10 days ago [he felt the PPV would only sell 300,000], I wouldn’t have told him that he’s foolish,” said Schaefer. “But if he’s telling me that today, I would tell him he’s foolish.”

Errol Spence defends his IBF welterweight title against Mikey Garcia on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (AP)
Errol Spence defends his IBF welterweight title against Mikey Garcia on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (AP)

Schaefer praised Fox’s help in pushing the fight and said it’s making a difference in ticket sales, as well as pay-per-view potential. He said that as of 5 p.m. local time Thursday, 35,000 tickets were sold. He said he’s optimistic it can break the stadium record of 51,240 for boxing, set in 2016 when Canelo Alvarez defeated Liam Smith.

He said promoters have set a goal of surpassing the 63,350 attendance figure set at the Superdome in New Orleans in 1978 when Muhammad Ali defeated Leon Spinks in a rematch for the heavyweight title. It’s the largest crowd ever for a boxing match in the U.S.

“Based on where we stand now, we definitely can break the record of 51,000 in attendance at the stadium,” Schaefer said. “Now, I can’t tell you this is going to happen, but we’re going to try to see if we can break the all-time indoor record which stands at 62,000 or 63,000 for [Ali-Spinks]. This fight, in the last three-four days, has gained unbelievable steam.

“It’s really firing everywhere. Bars and restaurants across the United States are reporting unbelievable numbers, in excess of what Canelo and [Gennady Golovkin] did their first fight. The Hispanic bars are tracking like [Floyd] Mayweather and Canelo did.”

He said a lot of the excitement is fueled by Mexican fans who are coming to the event to support Garcia. Schaefer noted a number of big-name fighters like Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard have picked Garcia, and that’s motivated the Mexican and Mexican-American fan base, Schaefer said.

He said they’ve picked up the phrase, “¡Sí se puede!” or “Yes, we can!,” as a rallying cry for Garcia.

“A lot of it has to do with, in the Mexican markets, the Hispanics. … There are large crowds of people coming from the border towns in Mexico, particularly Monterrey,” Schaefer said. “They have this [saying] ‘Sí se puede,’ [or] ‘Yes, we can,’ and what I mean by that is people believe Mikey can pull it off.

“You have people like a Bernard Hopkins, like a Mike Tyson, like a Sugar Ray Leonard, like a Teddy Atlas, you have all these people now who are starting to pick Mikey Garcia to win. You see the odds are getting smaller and smaller and that’s what people want to see. People want to cheer on an underdog and that’s what it is. Errol Spence is fired up and we saw it yesterday and the momentum is building. Man, it’s getting bigger and bigger.”

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