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  • Wilder vs. Fury 2 undercard: Will such an underwhelming undercard hurt PPV sales on Feb. 22nd?

Wilder vs. Fury 2 undercard: Will such an underwhelming undercard hurt PPV sales on Feb. 22nd?

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Joseph Herron Updated
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A lot can happen within a month's time...especially when referring to the public perception of boxing.

But as of right now, most die-hard boxing fans seem to be very disappointed with the Wilder vs. Fury 2 PPV undercard.  Whether or not the recently announced preliminary bouts will detour fans from purchasing the expensive event remains to be seen.

Recently announced were the three undercard bouts to support the Deontay Wilder/Tyson Fury main event on February 22nd:

From Top Rank, Inc: Emanuel Navarrete vs. Jeo Tupas Santisima for the WBO Super Bantamweight Title

From PBC: Charles Martin vs. Gerald Washington in an IBF Heavyweight Championship Eliminator

From PBC: Sebastian Fundora vs. Daniel Lewis in a Super Welterweight special attraction

If you're currently thinking that most "devout" and perpetually tortured fans of the sport will never be happy, and will always find something to complain about, you would be correct in your assessment. But in this case, it would be difficult to find fault in their collective disappointment.

Although both promotional companies are treating this brilliant heavyweight main event like another Tyson vs. Lewis, or Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, they shouldn't. Despite both fighters being declared numbers 1 and 2 respectively in the Heavyweight division, neither fighter has ever broken box office records like Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao or Mike Tyson leading into the anticipated event.

Prior to the February 22nd event, neither Tyson Fury nor Deontay Wilder has ever come close to reaching 1 million PPV purchases for any of their events, much less Bob Arum's bold projection of 2 million buys. In fact, their first meeting was considered to be somewhat of a disappointment in only reaching a very generous estimation of 325,000 buys via Showtime PPV.

Even though next month's PPV event will be featured on two more widely recognized mainstream platforms like ESPN and FOX, it will ostensibly be difficult to reach the desired financial goal without the benefit of an attractive and "eye-catching" undercard in support.

Here's where the aforementioned "belly-aching" begins.

As of right now, many die-hard fight fans are disgusted with the assignment of three lackluster pairings like "Navarrete vs. Santisima", "Martin vs. Washington", and "Fundora vs. Lewis" on such an expensive undertaking. The demographic who supposedly adore their beloved boxing are ready to boycott the purchase of the highly anticipated event as a result...especially with a $79.95 price tag.

This is a massive problem for everyone involved with the Wilder/Fury 2 promotion.

Despite only having two months to promote Pacquiao vs. Mayweather in 2015, participating promotional companies, Top Rank Inc. and Mayweather Promotions, didn't have to virtually do much because of the demand for the highly clamored event. Due to all of the activity and discussion on various social media outlets of the Mayweather/Pacquiao rivalry, the match-up had been "self-promoting" for the previous half-decade.

While most involved with Wilder/Fury 2 would like to think the situations are similar, the two scenarios couldn't be further apart.

In fact, the demand for the mainstream-friendly match-up of Mayweather vs. Canelo, which took place in September of 2013, dwarfs the popularity of Wilder/Fury 2 in comparison...and that event drew less than half the overall numbers of May/Pac in 2015.

Let's take a look at the televised portion of May/Canelo 2013 fight card in contrast:

Main Even: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez for the WBC/WBA Super Welterweight Titles
Co-Main Event: Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse for the WBC/WBA Super Lightweight Championship
2nd Prelim PPV bout: Carlos Molina vs. Ishe Smith for the IBF Super Welterweight Championship
Opening Prelim PPV bout: Pablo Cesar Cano vs. Ashley Theophane

Although a match-up as popular as Mayweather vs. Alvarez didn't need such an enticing co-main event to produce great PPV numbers, both active promoters, Golden Boy and Mayweather Promotions, knew that adding such a pairing would almost ensure the participation of every die-hard and mainstream boxing fan.

So why are two very knowledgeable boxing men like Bob Arum and Al Haymon putting forth such an underwhelming undercard on February 22nd?

Fans would be wise not to fault the participating promoters, but direct their dismay to the fighters currently competing under both promotional banners.

After the September 14th, 2013 event on Showtime PPV, WBC/WBA Jr. Welterweight champion Danny Garcia went on record as saying, "Although I was honored to be featured on such an elaborate and massive event like May/Canelo, it would have been nice to be featured in our own main event and PPV. I feel like our fight was completely overshadowed by Mayweather/Canelo."

The reality is most A-list fighters do not wish to be featured on someone else's undercard, and genuinely feel like it's beneath them; Especially in this day and age of inflated purses and coddled egos, where the business of boxing has become paramount.

Two "named" fighters would much rather be on the marquee of their own event, in which they receive the great majority of the event's gross proceeds...even if it's viewed as a much "less popular" event.

Hence the primary reason why a 12 to 1 match-up like Danny Garcia vs. Ivan Redkach is receiving its own headlining fight date on Showtime Sports, instead of a spot on the February 22nd PPV event. 

Also, due to both Wilder and Fury demanding a 50/50 split of an estimated $15 million guaranteed purse, is there any money left over for a quality match-up to be featured on the undercard? Should fans be thankful that there is even an undercard for such an expensive main event?

After only reaching 325,000 PPV buys in their first meeting, can anyone blame Top Rank and PBC for not wanting to spend any more money on a more extravagant undercard?

Realistically, fans shouldn't worry so much about the event's undercard.  The main event is pure gold for most avid supporters and should deliver in a resounding manner.  Avoiding the event due to a lackluster undercard is like not going to see your favorite band live because you don't approve of the opening act.

Fans would be wise not to miss Wilder vs. Fury 2 live...historically speaking, this is as good as it gets for boxing.

 
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