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Tyson, Holyfield rematch may pack $130 mil punch

The rematch June 28 in Las Vegas between heavyweights Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield is expected by fight telecast officials to generate about $130 million, which would place it among the most lucrative sporting events in history.

Of that $130 million, the largest chunk would be accrued from pay-per-view sales at an average price of $49.95 — up from the average $39.95 to $44.95 charged for the first Tyson-Holyfield fight in November. Fight will also show in some 1,600 closed circuit locations for $75 per ticket.

The first match, won by Holyfield in a stunning 11th-round knockout, broke the record for both PPV revenue and money produced by a sporting event. It took in some $77.8 million in pay TV receipts and $100 million all told (including the live gate).

Marketing blitz

Showtime Event Television (SET) predicts that Tyson-Holyfield II from the MGM Grand Garden Arena will become the highest-grossing PPV event in history. But SET is taking no chances, embarking on a media and marketing campaign designed to create more than $25 million worth of impressions for the fight.

It includes spot radio and TV ads in some 90 markets, spot sales on 22 cable networks, more than 300 retail tie-ins in 150 markets and numerous broadcast-cable promotion partners. Radio and TV spots produced by filmmaker Spike Lee will begin flooding the marketplace on Wednesday.

“This is the biggest marketing promotion ever for a single event,” said Suzan Couch, a senior marketing consultant for SET.

Dicey proposition

While SET anticipates big numbers, gauging the PPV audience with anything resembling accuracy is a dicey proposition, given that 75% to 80% of an event’s total gross is generated the day of an event — 60% during the two hours before it begins.

“Because there are so many technologically sophisticated households now that get an event at the push of a button, there is no incentive to purchase it early,” Couch said.

The June 28 rematch has more going for it than perhaps any championship fight of the 1990s.

Highest-generating athletes

For one, it has the two highest-generating athletes in PPV history in Tyson and Holyfield. The two accounted for each of the top nine and 10 of the top 11 pay events of all time. Tyson alone has been a part of four of the top five PPV events and attracted 91% of all boxing receipts from pay-per-view in 1995 and ’96.

Tyson’s vulnerability, promoters say, will be a draw to his second Holyfield fight. If he loses their rematch, his invincible aura would perhaps be punctured forever, and a lot of people will want to witness Tyson’s potential fall.

“And the attraction of Holyfield can’t be discounted,” Couch said.

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