Pacquiao-Morales trilogy combines for $49.5 million
By Dan Rafael

The memorable trilogy between junior lightweight stars Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales concluded with the rubber match generating an estimated 350,000 pay-per-view buys and $17.5 million in revenue, HBO Sports announced Wednesday.

Pacquiao's third-round knockout of Erik Morales on Nov. 18 brought in an estimated $17.5 million in pay-per-view revenue.

Pacquiao knocked Morales out in the third round of their Nov. 18 slugfest at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas to win the trilogy 2-1.

HBO PPV's Mark Taffet said the figures for the fight probably will rise once the buys are fully counted.

That's what happened with each of their first two fights. The first bout in March 2005 generated 350,000 buys and $15.7 million in television revenue. The January rematch did 360,000 buys and $16.2 million.

The reason the third fight generated more revenue than the second fight, despite fewer subscriptions, is because the third fight sold for $49.95 and the second fight was priced at $44.95.

Together, the three Pacquiao-Morales fights combined to sell an astonishing 1,060,000 pay-per-view subscriptions and raked in $49.5 million.

"It's really remarkable," Taffet told "Pacquiao-Morales III not only was an outstanding fight in the ring, and a great conclusion to a memorable trilogy, but it was also the highest grossing lighter weight fight in our pay-per-view history. With over a million buys and nearly $50 million in revenue, it's a remarkable achievement for two fighters weighing a combined 260 pounds."

The fight concluded a busy year for HBO PPV, which produced and distributed 11 pay-per-view cards. Sales totaled 3.7 million buys and approximately $177 million.

"It's the second biggest year in our history," Taffet said.

It trails only 1999, which had four huge fights -- both Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield bouts and Oscar De La Hoya fights against Felix Trinidad and Ike Quartey.

HBO launched its pay-per-view arm beginning with the 1991 heavyweight championship fight between Holyfield and George Foreman.

"This year was characterized by one very big event, Oscar De La Hoya vs. Ricardo Mayorga, which did 925,000 buys and $46.2 million, and seven other events which generated between 325,000 and 425,000 buys," Taffet said. "It was an extremely consistent and solid performance virtually every month. Without a single fight doing a million buys, we had our second biggest year ever, which showed enormous consumer support on a consistent basis."

Three other events did much smaller numbers.

Despite the successful year, Taffet said he hoped to scale back the number of pay events in 2007 because the company understands that the volume of events and the cost have become a burden for fight fans.

"I expect 2007 to have less pay-per-view activity and, frankly, I think that's a return to a healthier balance for the sport," he said.

Even if the network cuts back on its pay offerings, 2007 still could be a huge year for HBO PPV because of the highly anticipated May 5 showdown between De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. That fight is expected to challenge the non-heavyweight PPV record of 1.4 million buys set by De La Hoya-Trinidad.
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