Canelo Alvarez's return to the junior middleweight division against Liam Smith last month generated close to 300,000 pay-per-view buys, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya told ESPN.com.
Headlining an HBO PPV card on Mexican Independence Day weekend at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 17, Mexico's Alvarez scored a ninth-round knockout of England's Smith to win another junior middleweight world title after having vacated his middleweight title.
At 300,000 buys, the fight grossed approximately $20 million in domestic PPV revenue, although roughly half goes to the cable and satellite operators.
"We're going to wind up doing close to 300,000 homes, which is great when you combine that with almost 52,000 fans we had in the crowd," De La Hoya said. "We're very happy, extremely happy with the numbers."
However, the total was a drop of about half of what the 26-year-old Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) generated in his previous fight, a crushing sixth-round knockout of Amir Khan in defense of the middleweight title on May 5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and about one-third of the 900,000-plus buys he generated for a unanimous decision win against Miguel Cotto last November to win the middleweight world title at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
However, while Cotto is one of boxing's biggest stars and Khan is a very prominent name with wide recognition among American boxing fans, Smith was fighting in the United States for the first time, never had previously been on American television, was a gargantuan underdog and essentially was unknown.
"Obviously, nobody had ever heard of Liam Smith, and when you have to try and sell a pay-per-view fight with somebody that nobody has ever heard of, you have a tough job ahead of you," De La Hoya said. "We were able to attract the fans who love boxing, and they were treated to a special fight. When it was all said and done it was a terrific fight, a lot of action."
While some will view the figures as a sign perhaps of diminishing star power for Alvarez, who has been heavily criticized for avoiding a megafight with unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin -- a bout De La Hoya said they hope to make for September 2017 -- De La Hoya said he did not put any stock in that.
De La Hoya, a Hall of Famer and one of the biggest pay-per-view stars in boxing history during his 1992 to 2008 fighting career, pointed out that even as popular as he was, when he faced a few lesser or unknown opponents along the way, sometimes his PPV totals suffered.
The fight with Smith was Alvarez's sixth as a pay-per-view headliner. In addition to Smith, Khan and Cotto, he also faced Floyd Mayweather in a 2013 loss that sold 2.2 million pay-per-views, third all time, and set the PPV revenue record of $150 million until it was broken last year by Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao.
Alvarez also headlined against Erislandy Lara and Alfredo Angulo in 2014, each of which generated more than 300,000 buys.
Alvarez, who plans to move up to the middleweight division limit of 160 pounds after fighting his previous middleweight bouts at a catch weight of 155 pounds, is out until at least early 2017 because he suffered an avulsion fracture of his right thumb early in the Smith fight.
If his thumb heals on schedule, De La Hoya said Alvarez could fight in the first quarter of next year and then plans to fight again in May, with a potential fight against Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) in September.
"I'm sure when Canelo decides to fight at 160 next year there will be plenty of name fighters and opponents who will bring excitement and great fights and the fans will acknowledge that and, once again, he will do even bigger pay-per-view numbers," De La Hoya said.