Floyd Mayweather’s fight with Andre Berto was advertised as the final bout of his career, but that wasn’t enough to get casual boxing fans to fork over their money to see a one-sided decision. Early numbers indicate that the pay-per-view buys were significantly lower than any of Mayweather's fights in recent years.
According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, Mayweather vs. Berto sold somewhere between 400,000 and 550,000 PPV subscriptions. A source told Rafael that putting it at 550,000 might be “generous.”
The numbers aren’t in the same stratosphere as Mayweather’s May 2 mega-bout with Pacquiao, which generated 4.6 million buys. That fight was in a class of its own with nearly six years of anticipation. But even compared to Mayweather’s previous bouts, the numbers against Berto appear to be disappointing.
Mayweather fought Marcos Maidana, far from a household name, twice in 2014. Even though Mayweather was expected to cruise in both fights, each PPV sold between 900,000 and 1 million buys. It’s looking like Saturday’s fight might have generated less than half as many buys as one of those bouts.
Mayweather’s 2014 fights with Maidana were on the low end of his PPV sales. His bout with Canelo Alvarez in Sept. 2013 generated 2.2 million buys, and more than 1 million PPVs were purchased four months prior to see Mayweather defeat Robert Guererro. Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto did 1.5 million buys in May 2012, and his Sept. 2011 fight with Victor Ortiz resulted in 1.25 million PPV buys.
Fans and members of the media criticized Mayweather for picking such a weak opponent for his supposed retirement fight, and the bout turned out to be what most expected. Mayweather was dominant in a unanimous decision victory, so much so that one judge awarded every round to the undefeated boxer.
The poor PPV numbers shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the lack of hype that surrounded the event. In the days leading up to the fight, the MGM Grand was still struggling to sell tickets, and the crowd of 13,395 fans was more than 2,000 people short of a sellout.
There’s no question that Mayweather is the sport’s No.1 draw, and will remain so if he has another fight and goes for his 50th career win, as many expect him to do. But his appeal might have peaked with his fight against Pacquiao.
When looking for a 60-40 revenue split during negotiations to fight Pacquiao, Mayweather often boasted about generating better PPV numbers than his potential opponent. But his fight against Berto didn’t come close to matching the buys generated by Pacquiao’s last fight in the United States, prior to facing Mayweather. Between 750,000 and 800,000 PPV subscriptions were sold for the rematch between Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley on April 12, 2014.
A rematch between Mayweather and Pacquiao wouldn’t match the May 2 PPV numbers, but it would almost certainly draw significantly more buys than the Berto fight. Mayweather-Pacquiao II wasn’t possible for 2015, since the Filipino boxer is still recovering from shoulder surgery.
After the final PPV numbers were tallied, Mayweather made at least $220 million for fighting Pacquiao. The 38-year-old was guaranteed $32 million to face Berto, and he claimed he’ll end up earning more than $70 million for a night’s work. But that seems unlikely, considering 550,000 PPV buys would mean close to $38 million in revenue, about half of which goes to cable and satellite providers.