Canelo vs. Plant Pay Per View numbers prove P4P King’s star power

Canelo Alvarez 2021 Caleb Plant Pay Per View numbers ESPN

Amanda Westcott

Until pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez knocked out Caleb Plant in the 11th round last Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in the main event of a Showtime PPV card, he had not fought on a traditional pay-per-view card for six consecutive bouts over the past three years.

Before the Plant fight, Alvarez’s previous pay-per-view fight was his heavily anticipated – and highly disputed — majority decision win over rival Gennadiy Golovkin in their middleweight championship rematch in September 2018, which generated around 1.1 million buys and turned out to be the final pay-per-view in HBO’s storied boxing history.

Alvarez’s next six fights were all carried by sports streaming subscription service DAZN, so when Alvarez returned to traditional pay-per-view to face Plant for the undisputed super-middleweight title on the Premier Boxing Champions event with Showtime, nobody involved really knew what to expect, especially with the card going head-to-head with the highly anticipated UFC 268 show on ESPN+ pay-per-view from Madison Square Garden in New York.

As it turned out, however, that Alvarez’s star power remains strong. Alvarez-Plant did “roughly 800,000” pay-per-view buys in the United States, a source involved in the event told World Boxing News on Thursday.

The source said that the 800,000 figure – it is not exact because the buys are not fully tallied yet, and part of getting the first number involves extrapolation  — includes pay-per-view purchases made on linear cable television services, such as In Demand; satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network; and via digital sales on the Showtime app.

At 800,000 buys, the four-fight card, which sold for $79.95, grossed roughly $64 million in domestic pay-per-view revenue, although around 40 percent or more of that money typically goes to the cable and satellite operators.

But the source also said that the fight, which drew an announced sold-out crowd of 16,586, generated a live gate of around $18 million, which would put it in the top 10 boxing gates in Nevada boxing history. Additional revenue for the fight came from international television, sponsorships, and merchandise.

Many associated with the fight, as well as neutral observers with experience in the pay-per-view field, believed it would probably generate around 600,000 buys with a chance to perhaps reach 700,000, a hard number to hit with piracy so pervasive along with Alvarez’s long absence from traditional pay-per-view.

But the combination of his star power, a strong promotion that kicked off with Alvarez and Plant coming to blows moments into their kickoff news conference on Sept. 21 in Beverly Hills, California, and Alvarez attempting to make boxing history against an undefeated titleholder in Plant, drew buyers in.

Alvarez was ahead on all three scorecards (98-92, 97-93, and 96-94) when he knocked Plant down twice in the 11th round with referee Russell Mora waving the fight off at 1 minute, 5 seconds after the second punishing knockdown.

Canelo Alvarez pound for pound
Amanda Westcott


The victory allowed Alvarez to unify his WBC, WBO, and WBA world titles with Plant’s IBF title to become the first-ever undisputed super middleweight world champion in division history, be it in the three- or four-belt era. Alvarez also became only the sixth male boxer to become an undisputed champion in the four-belt era.

The super middleweight division was created in 1984, and many great fighters have competed in it, won titles, and even unified, but none had ever become the undisputed champion, including Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roy Jones Jr., James Toney, Joe Calzaghe, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Andre Ward, Carl Froch, and Mikkel Kessler.

Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs), 31, of Mexico, who has also won world titles at junior middleweight, middleweight, and light heavyweight, won the undisputed super middleweight title over the course of four fights in the past 11 months. He took Callum Smith’s WBA and the vacant WBC belts by lopsided unanimous decision in December, crushed WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim in a third-round knockout in February, stopped Billy Joe Saunders in the eighth round in May to take his WBO title, and then knocked out Plant (21-1, 12 KOs), 29, of Las Vegas, to complete the deal.

Award-winning writer Dan Rafael is the Lead Boxing Contributor for World Boxing News. Follow Dan on social media @DanRafael1.