Wilder vs Ortiz 2 PPV buys: Did event tank?
First things first...
Regardless of the numbers, the heavyweight title showdown between Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz was an awesome match-up between two elite-level heavyweights. Had this fight occured in the 1980s or 90s, it would have been a mainstream event a la George Foreman vs Michael Moorer.
Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz deserve a lot of credit for facing each other in a rematch that was very dangerous for both. And while it didn't produce the level of consistent fireworks that would awe the casual fan, it was a high drama chess match that answered some questions.
Let's hope the rumors are wrong.
FightSaga's Previous Reservations
$79 PPV fee
Despite the quality of the warriors and success of their first bout, FightSaga had reservations about how last week's rematch would perform at the box office. (Wilder-Ortiz I, which was broadcast on regular Showtime in March 2018, peaked at 1.2 million viewers)
Yes, viewership for their first meeting was solid. And yes, the fight was exciting and kept viewers on edge. However, that card was broadcast on Showtime so its subscribers watched the card at no additional cost. The $79 PPV fee for the rematch semed steep high given neither fighter's name was Oscar De La Hoya, Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather or Canelo Alvarez.
Because fans are slowly being weaned off PPV thanks to ESPN+ and DAZN, the price for Wilder vs Ortiz 2 wasn't a good look. Let's face it, earlier this month fans saw Canelo Alvarez vs Sergey Kovalev, two long-time big names, for a sliver of what Wilder vs Ortiz 2 cost.
Wilder vs Ortiz was worth $79 for some hardcore fans like me. However, perception means a lot. After watching Canelo vs Kovalev for pennies in comparison two weeks prior, many were probably reluctant to shell out $79 for last week's heavyweight showdown. And let's not forget, the other big heavyweight fight, Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz 2 on December 7, will also be aired relatively inexpensively on the DAZN.
But wait, Wilder vs Tyson Fury a year ago generated a formidable 325,000 PPV buys, per ESPN. So, the $79 fee for the Wilder-Ortiz rematch made sense, right? After all, that bout was arguably more exciting than Fury vs Wilder.
Answer: Probably not.
Fury is a charismatic, mainstream star who boasts a win over Wladimir Klitschko, (arguably) lineal champion status, and has a heck of a backstory. Moreover, he generates news almost daily and his native UK is a well-funded hotbed for professional boxing.
Fury has a lot of juice in England and the US while the mild-mannered Ortiz doesn't.
Now granted, Ortiz deserves mainstream billing but he a) doesn't speak fluent English and b) is a native of Cuba and doesn't have a large fan base. Unlike Lucas Matthysse and Marcos Maidana who were popular and in-demand in their native Argentina, Ortiz doesn't create a lot of buzz in Cuba due to the limited revenue and visibility opportunities on the island.
Lastly, even boxing experts who respected the 40 year Ortiz didn't give him much of a chance due to his age. The prevailing preface was, "Luis Ortiz is strong, skilled and dangerous.... But he's 40 and past his prime. If Wilder is careful, he should win the rematch more easily."
I don't care if Ortiz was 140, he would have been beaten at least 7 of the other top 10 heavyweights Saturday night. In fact, FightSaga had Ortiz ahead 60-56 heading into the 7th and final round.
And prior to the Wilder fight, Ortiz had KO'd 2 of 3 opponents.
Ortiz UD 12 Christian Hammer
Ortiz KO 10 Travis Kauffman
Ortiz KO 2 Razvan Cojanu
Bear in mind, Kauffman was 32-2 at the time and Hammer is a very durable fighter who'd previously went the distance with Alexander Povetkin. There's no shame in decisioning Hammer. People are mistaken if they thought Wilder beat an old man last Saturday.
Overestimating Wilder's growing stock
Deontay Wilder is an exciting fighter, a true champion and, perhaps, the hardest hitting heavyweight champion ever. However, his stock is nowhere close to Tyson's or Holyfield's back in the day. In fact, rival Anthony Joshua, even after getting upset in June, has more juice than Wilder.
Wilder, at this moment, can't sell a fight by himself. Let's face it, casual and non-fans didn't plan their Saturday around Wilder vs Ortiz 2. That stated, Deontay Wilder's popularity is slowly transcending into mainstream America.
If more Americans knew of Wilder, he'd be every bit the celebrity Mike Tyson was from 1986-2002.
Wilder is a charismatic, electrifying heavyweight with a 97 percent knockout ratio and everything the mainstream would want in a heavyweight champion.... If only he had more name recognition with the average American.
I'm hopeful Wilder vs Ortiz 2 produced at least 200-300K PPV buys but pessimistic for the aforementioned reasons.