While the boxing world is yearning for superfights such as Fury vs Wilder 3, Fury vs Joshua and Canelo vs Golovkin 3, Greenburg believes the global COVID-19 pandemic will mean the wait for those events will be longer than fight fans would want to believe.
When boxing does come back – likely in June or July – there will be no spectactors in attendance, which means blockbusting events would already be at a major disadvantage – before you even factor in the threat a global recession poses to disposable incomes and therefore PPV buys.
Greenburg told John Wall Street: “There won’t be gate revenue and in a down economy fans may be hesitant to shell out $70 or $80 for a single night of entertaninment.”
The February rematch between Fury and Wilder in Las Vegas drew a live gate paying just under $17million – a record for a heavyweight bout. From a PPV perspective UFC 249 meanwhile has just drawn 700,000 PPV buys at $64.99 without a massive star attraction or a live crowd – but given it has a different business model the financial impact the pandemic has on boxing remains to be proven or not.
He said: “The reason boxing has always been able to initiate a change in technology that created more revenue was because it was a popular mainstream sport. Unless boxing has a major rejuvenation or a fighter as electric as Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson comes along…”
The seemingly obvious play next for boxing then comes via huge entertainment platforms such as Amazon and Apple – who already have the audience, tech setup and payment infrastructure to take on and host megafights.
But to Greenburg’s point above – without the right box-office attraction to sell, it just may not be worth their investment.