Promoters believe Mayweather-Marquez fight will make great theater
The escalating battle for the hearts and minds of combat-sports fans has been taken to a new level - the big screen of movie theaters, and in high-definition and SurroundSound.
Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, and Leonard Ellerbee, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, jointly announced yesterday that the Sept. 19 catchweight matchup of Floyd Mayweather Jr. (39-0, 25 KOs) and Juan Manuel Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs), at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, will be available via closed-circuit in 170 movie theaters nationwide. The arrangement, marking the first time a major boxing event has been shown in such venues since the infamous "No Mas" fight in which Roberto Duran quit in the eighth round of his Nov. 25, 1980, bout against Sugar Ray Leonard in the Louisiana Superdome, will augment availability through pay-per-view and closed-circuit outlets at sports bars and restaurants across the country.
The only movie theater in the Philadelphia area that will show the fight - ticket prices have been set at $12.50 to $15, depending on location - is The Bridge Cinema DeLux at 4012 Walnut Street, near the University of Pennsylvania campus.
"A big fight deserves a big screen," Schaefer said. "It is a concept I have been working on for several years, but I was waiting for the right fight, for a mega-event with an athlete [Mayweather] who clearly transcends the sport of boxing."
Whether Mayweather-Marquez is as huge an attraction as envisioned by Schaefer, Ellerbee and Dan Diamond, vice president of Fathom, a division of National Cinema Media, remains to be seen. But what is evident is this: The ante has been upped in the high-stakes game of poker that pits the boxing match against UFC 103, whose main event is Vitor Belfort against Rich Franklin, which will be televised via pay-per-view that night from Dallas.
UFC president Dana White has denounced Mayweather-Marquez as a fight that "nobody wants to see" and as a reason why "boxing keeps hurting itself."
Not that anyone set out to float a test balloon in which boxing took on mixed martial arts head-to-head. Mayweather, 32, a six-time world champion and titlist in five weight classes who is returning to the ring after a career-long 26-month period of inactivity, was to have mixed it up with Marquez, the WBA/WBO lightweight champion, on June 26, but the bout was postponed when Mayweather incurred an unspecified rib injury in training.
Joe Hand Jr., who in partnership with his father has distributed both boxing and mixed martial arts cards to closed-circuit locations throughout the country in recent years, doesn't believe either show will necessarily be hurt because of the conflict.
"A lot of sports-bar owners are taking both events the same night because they have multiple screens," Hand said. "It's no different than going into the same bar or restaurant on a Sunday afternoon and there's eight games on via NFL Sunday Ticket.
"It is true that some boxing fans don't like UFC, and that some UFC fans don't like boxing, but then there's generic fight fans that just want to see a good scrap, whatever the format."
National Cinema Media will immediately begin 30-second promos for Mayweather-Marquez at approximately 1,500 movie theaters.
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