Turns out the obituaries written for boxing were a bit premature.
Oscar De La Hoya's fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. set a record for most televised buys for a fight, according to figures released yesterday, surpassing Mike Tyson's second fight with Evander Holyfield and making it boxing's richest event.
A total of 2.15 million households paid $54.95 for the fight, generating $120 million. The previous record set by Tyson-Holyfield was 1.99 million buys.
"This puts to bed this theory of boxing being in trouble, or being dead or dying," said Ross Greenburg, head of HBO Sports. "This fight would have never materialized if boxing was dying."
A person close to the promotion said De La Hoya would end up making about $45 million for the fight and Mayweather just over $20 million. That person requested anonymity because the promoters did not want official figures released.
The $45 million would be the biggest purse paid to a fighter, higher than the $35 million purses Tyson and Holyfield reportedly were paid for the infamous "Bite Fight."
Mayweather beat De La Hoya on a split decision Saturday night in an entertaining fight that drew a record live gate of $19 million at the MGM Grand Garden arena. Mayweather won on two of the three ringside scorecards to win the WBC 154-pound title.
The fight will be replayed Saturday at 10 p.m. EDT.
Greenburg credited the success of the network's "24/7" reality show that ran in a coveted Sunday night slot behind the "Sopranos" and "Entourage" for 3 weeks leading up to the fight with helping sell both the public and the media on its worth.
Mayweather and his dysfunctional family, including his estranged father, Floyd Sr., and his trainer and uncle, Roger, became the stars of the show, allowing nonboxing fans a glimpse into the life of the fighter.
In other boxing news:
* A memorial service for boxer Diego "Chico" Corrales has been postponed to give family and friends time to arrange travel to Nevada. Corrales, a former lightweight and super featherweight champion, died Monday in a high-speed motorcycle crash near his Las Vegas home. He was 29.
* Adrian Diaconu improved to 24-0, stopping American Rico Hoye (20-2) 42 seconds into the third round of their WBC light heavyweight elimination fight in Montreal. With the victory, the Romania-born Diaconu became the mandatory challenger to WBC champion Chad Dawson, the undefeated American who won the title with a Feb. 3 decision over Poland's Tomasz Adamek.
* The NCAA reduced the penalty period against former Ohio State basketball coach Jim O'Brien from 5 years to 2, limiting his ability to seek athletic employment at another NCAA school during that time.
The reduction follows the NCAA's decision last month to throw out violations that included accusations O'Brien improperly gave $6,000 to a recruit. The group dismissed three violations and part of a fourth because NCAA enforcement staff missed by 2 days a 2005 deadline for filing the charges.
Fired in 2004, O'Brien still could seek work as a university basketball coach during the penalty period, which lasts until May 8, 2009.
* Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver expressed thanks at a news conference for the overwhelming support the university received after 32 people were killed by a gunman on campus last month. Plans to memorialize the victims at Virginia Tech sporting events, including the opening home football game against East Carolina on Sept. 1, are in the works, Weaver said.
* Boston became the 14th team in the National Lacrosse League. The Boston team, to be coached by U.S. National Team head coach Tom Ryan, will begin play in January 2008 at the TD Banknorth Garden, home of the Celtics and Bruins.
* Russian runner Lyubov Denisova, a two-time Los Angeles Marathon winner and former runner-up in Boston and New York City, failed an out-of-competition doping test and could face a 2-year ban. Denisova tested positive for an elevated testerone-to-epitestosterone ratio on March 20 at her home in Gainesville, Fla. *