By Dan Ambrose: Last Saturday’s non-pay-per-view bout on HBO Championship Boxing between WBC middleweight champion Miguel Cotto (40-4, 33 KOs) and former IBF/WBA 160lb champion Daniel Geale (31-4, 16 KOs) brought in good numbers for HBO in the ratings department. The fight brought in a peak of 1,621 million viewers on HBO, making it the third highest ratings numbers for 2015, according to Dan Rafael.
The Cotto-Geale averaged 1.589 million viewers, which isn’t bad considering that the fight was a mismatch on paper with Cotto picking a guy that was blown out in three rounds last year by WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in a fight that was televised on HBO.
Usually when a fighter picks out a guy that was obliterated like Geale was, it doesn’t bring in good ratings because fans see the fight as not worthy of watching. But in this case, fans appear to have a short memory of what Golovkin did to Geale because they were still willing to watch Cotto face him.
Perhaps there was doubt whether Cotto, a smallish middleweight, could do the same thing that Golovkin did to Geale. But Cotto proved that he could beat Geale almost as good as Golovkin did in stopping him in the 4th round rather than the 3rd round like Golovkin did. Like Golovkin, Cotto dropped Geale twice in the process of winning.
“Excellent viewership for live, 1st-time airing of Cotto-Geale on HB Boxing. Averaged 1.589M viewers, peak 1.621M. 3rd-best cable # of year,” Rafael said on his twitter.
What this means is that if Cotto is able to bring in big numbers in facing a guy of Geale’s class, then it suggests that Cotto’s next fight against the popular Mexican fighter Saul “Canelo” Alvarez should bring in big numbers on HBO pay-per-view later this year in October or November.
If fans were willing to see a mismatch like Cotto-Geale, which took place at a strength draining 157 pound catch-weight to benefit Cotto with a handicap, then fans will likely be willing to give up their hard-earned money to see Cotto and Canelo on pay-per-view on HBO. What you have to hope doesn’t happen is their promoters deciding that the fight is another “fight of the century” type deal and decide on hiking the price of the tickets and the PPV and charge $100 on PPV to see the fight. That would be so sad because it would suggest that last month’s fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao, which went for $100 to $110 on HBO/Showtime PPV, was the beginning of what could become a standard thing with boxing fans being asked to pay through the roof each time there is a good match-up between guys that are pretty even in talent.
I believe the Cotto-Canelo fight will do well on pay-per-view, but I don’t see it hitting 1 million buys. I don’t think they have the clout to bring in big PPV numbers without them being matched against Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.
Cotto is riding a three fight winning streak going into the Canelo fight. However, Cotto hasn’t faced anyone that you can call a good fighter since his loss to Austin Trout in 2012. Since then, Cotto has had three mismatches against over-the-hill fighters in Delvin Rodriguez, Sergio Martinez and Geale instead of him taking on fighters in their prime like Tureano Johnson, Peter Quillin, Andy Lee, Billy Joe Saunders, and Gennady Golovkin.