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Volume 21 No. 1
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Plugged In: Richard Schaefer

When leading boxing promoters Golden Boy and Top Rank scheduled competing fight cards on the Las Vegas Strip on the same September night, many predicted supply would KO demand. Instead, both fights were sellouts, and both beat expectations on the television front. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, promoter of Canelo Alvarez’s fight at the MGM Grand, talks about why it worked, and what that and other indicators say about boxing.

We had motivated partners. Showtime was happy to finally have a legitimate star, Canelo Alvarez, on their network. Showtime has been waiting to have a star back since the days of [Mike] Tyson. And you had the MGM, very motivated, wanting to show that they are tops in Las Vegas. They activated throughout their 11 Strip properties. And you had Corona, the leading Mexican beer brand; they were very motivated. They activated in 5,000 stores throughout the United States. They wanted to show Tecate who is boss. Everybody did a terrific job and made an extra effort because of the competition.

On how the TV landscape has swung for fights:
If you look at what has happened with rights fees across sports, boxing has been left behind. So when you see these kind of weekends where you have, less than a mile apart, 35,000 paying customers going to a boxing event, and you had a very successful pay-per-view, and on the same night the highest-rated boxing event in the history of Showtime, I think TV networks can no longer ignore the sport of boxing. It’s a very vibrant live-content play.
On what it’s like to be a TV free agent coming off a three-year output deal with HBO: The beauty of having an output deal is that you could build content on a regular basis because you had the dates locked in. The beauty of not having an output deal is that it’s a free market, and whoever offers us the best deal is who we would go with.

On the increased emphasis brands are placing on reaching Hispanics: Until now, Corona never activated around a boxing event. They ran commercials: the sun and the beach and the girls. But now they’re starting to use boxing to activate, and the results they saw around Canelo really energized them. … Brands are going to realize that boxing is the way to get into the Hispanic home.