I know that technically speaking this is the last 11 years of PPV’s however this list is about coming to full circle with what has taken place in 2015. In 2005 both Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather made their first ventures into the PPV market. In 2015, they finally stepped into the ring together for what turned out to be a mere sparring session where one guy couldn’t and the other guy wouldn’t. Since 2005 we’ve seen PPV records broken and made with these two fighters. Today we want to examine those PPV’s with a strong emphasis on the main event for this list that made us feel like we got our money’s worth. This list is just the opinion of one boxing fan that has spent what feels like thousands on PPV’s and these were the top ten PPV’s that I felt were worth the price of admission.
On a side note in 2005 I lived in the state of Hawaii and at the time I lived at home with my parents while attending my senior year in High School. (Menehune High School) At the time we only had HBO for our cable and for some odd reason for that Hawaiian cable network they offered the Corrales/Castillo fight for a PPV price of $9.99. Now I may be the only person that this occurred to so it isn’t included on the list but clearly on the night of May 7, 2005, that was the best PPV I’ve ever bought.
10. Floyd Mayweather vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Lucas Matthysse vs. Danny Garcia
September 14, 2013. MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada. 2.2 Million PPV Sales
There was some major hype behind this PPV. The main event itself wasn’t a great fight but more of an exhibition for Mayweather to show off his defense. This was one of Mayweather’s best defensive performances as he was able to dodge and evade all of Canelo’s offensive efforts without resorting to his excessive holding tactics which he would later show in his next efforts against Maidana and Pacquiao. The reason this PPV has made the list is because of the undercard featuring at the time one of the best match ups that could be made in boxing. For so long so many PPV’s have had a steady stream of cannon fodder for under-card match ups and this being the rare PPV that brought us a match up between the two best at 140 pounds was extremely rare and may never happen again. The fight itself wasn’t a fight of the year candidate but it was good enough to have this PPV make the list.
9. Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito
November 13, 2010. Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas. 1.15 million PPV buys
This fight was brimming with controversy as it was contended for the WBC 154-pound Junior Middleweight title at a catch-weight of 150 pounds. This was not a great PPV event as it was filled with Top Rank filler showcases featuring Brandon Rios and Guillermo Rigondeaux. The main event was a master showcase by Manny Pacquiao as he unleashed his complete arsenal on Margarito and left him with half his face disfigured and forever rendered with a disability going forward. This may have been Pacquiao at his absolute best and at his peak as he was able to put over 30,000 in Cowboys Stadium as well as selling over 1,000,000 in PPV. There are few fights that have left casual observers and myself in awe of a fighter and Pacquiao’s performance as well as landing over 444 punches on Margarito made this match up stand out. This was also the last time we saw a Pacquiao who wasn’t going through the motions in the ring. (except for the 4th Marquez fight). Everything after this you get the feeling that he’s just phoning it in.
8. Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto
November 14, 2009. MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada. 1.25 Million PPV buys
The fight that officially started the hype train that ended on May 2, 2015. Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto was a fight that lived up to every expectation… through the first 4 rounds. There aren’t many better 4 rounds in a fight than the ones exhibited that night in November of 2009. Pacquiao fought at an incredible pace and this has to rank as one of the top 3 best performances Pacquiao has ever produced. The only downside to this match up was the unnecessary catchweight of 145 pounds. It is of my belief that not all catchweights are created equal and Cotto didn’t look depleted at the weigh-in for this contest and because of Cotto being a converted southpaw just like Barrera and De La Hoya it leads me to believe that Pacquiao would have won regardless. Many observers of this fight have stated that referee Kenny Bayless may have stopped the fight too quickly however if one re-watches this match up, the fight could have very well been stopped after the 9th round. Pacquiao was incredible on this night against a great fighter and there haven’t been many better performances by any fighter since.
7. Miguel Cotto vs. Zab Judah
June 9, 2007. Madison Square Garden, New York, New York. 225,000 PPV buys
This fight solidified Miguel Cotto as the official successor to Hall of Famer Felix Trinidad as the next Puerto Rican star. This was the coming out party that had one of the best atmospheres boxing fans have ever seen and a fight that lived up to and surpassed expectations. While Zab Judah was coming off a lengthy lay off after being suspended for actions that happened in 2006 in a bout with Floyd Mayweather, he was primed and ready for this match up with Cotto as it was his chance at redemption as well as a chance to return to the top of the sport as an elite fighter. This was Cotto in one of his most exciting bouts where he played the role of the terminator while also showing vulnerability. (Zab’s uppercut and straight left landed many times) Cotto ended up overwhelming Zab Judah to an 11th round stoppage in front of to this day the largest crowd for a boxing match in Madison Square Garden history.
6. Manny Pacquiao vs. Erik Morales II
January 21, 2006. Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. 360,000 PPV buys
There aren’t many sequels that live up to the original, however there are always exceptions such as The Godfather II and The Empire Strikes Back. This fight falls into that category as it lived up to the already expectations of the first encounter. Before this match up took place Top Rank decided to put the two fighters on the same card against two contenders in hope of bringing more anticipation for the rematch. This proved to be a huge mistake as Top Rank put Morales in with Zahir Raheem , a stylistic nightmare for Morales, at lightweight where Morales was out-boxed in a career best performance by Raheem. The first fight was so good that the anticipation for the rematch wasn’t deferred. Despite a very even first half of the fight in the first 5 rounds where Morales was clearly ahead, Pacquiao completely changed the fight in the 6th round as Morales seemed to run out of energy to keep Pacquiao off of him, perhaps the result of body shots, and Morales looking absolutely drained at the weigh in. Pacquiao became the first man to drop and eventually get the stoppage of Morales in the 10th round. This catapulted Pacquiao to even greater stature in his native Phillipines and as well as a PPV star as his trilogy with Morales went on to have more than 1,000,000 PPV buys.
5. Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Marco Antonio Barrera
March 17, 2007. Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada. 225,000 PPV buys
In the 80’s there was Hearns-Duran-Leonard-Hagler. In the 2000’s we had Barrera-Morales-Marquez-Pacquiao. This was a fight that should have taken place a couple of years before it ended up taking place in March of 2007, however both men were still at a point of there careers where they still had much to offer, especially Marquez. While Barrera, Morales, and Pacquiao did there best work at 126 and below, Marquez had a late resurgence in his career starting with his comeback of exciting fights in 2006 against some Thai contenders (Jaca and Kokietgym) in two very exciting fights. The fight itself was very evenly matched and the skill level involved with both fighters was boxing at its absolute. It was a 130-pound version of James Toney-Mike McCallum. A forgotten gem of a PPV that was the last great showing of a Hall-of-Famer Marco Antonio Barrera.
4. Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito I
July 26, 2008. MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada. 450,000 PPV buys
The Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry has a rich history in the sport of boxing. This chapter in the series came to fruition with the exit of Floyd Mayweather from the sport when he retired in 2008. Both men were in their prime and both promoted by Top Rank to bring about one of the most anticipated match ups in boxing. The crowd was at a fever pitch with a slight advantage for Margarito. Cotto started off the bout strong landing hard, crisp combinations to the face of Margarito. Margarito just kept coming forward and throwing in volume. Eventually Cotto could not keep Margarito off of him and was wore down to take two knees in the eleventh round of an absolute classic. This bout is now mired in controversy over Margarito in his very next fight against Shane Mosley, for using old gauze with elements of plaster or attempting to in the Mosley match up. Rather fair or unfair this win for Margarito has been tainted by the assumption that he may have cheated in this match up. Regardless, this match up lived up to the expectations of putting the two best welterweights ( not including Paul Willaims who had his last fight at the weight in June 2008 against Carlos Quintana) together for a match up that can be considered a modern classic.
3. Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez IV
December 8, 2014. MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada. 1.15 Million PPV buys
Everybody complained and groaned when they first announced that these two were going to fight again. Everyone said that they wanted to see a different match up take place and that there were tired of seeing them in the ring. Both men shut everybody up. In what was the fight of the year for 2012 along with the knockout of the year, fans finally got a definitive victor in the Pacquiao-Marquez rivalry. This was the last time and I have to assume the last time we will see Pacquiao in a fight like this where he looks like he isn’t going through the motions. Just looking at the face off you can see the intensity of both men right before the first round. The first two rounds were technical but also exhilarating as there was a sense in the air that something was going to be different on this night. That came in the 3rd round as Marquez lulled Pacquaio into believing he as going to go the body and caught him with a huge overhand right hand. This was the first time Marquez dropped Pacquiao in one of their matches. Marquez has hurt Pacquiao before but this was the first time he had put Pacquiao down. This was quite a statement made by Marquez and it woke Pacquiao up and he began to come after Marquez with a ferocity to return the favor. Pacquiao while not known as a counter puncher, throws a straight left with great timing especially while one throws a jab. In the 5th round Pacquiao gave Marquez a feint to throw a jab which allowed Pacquiao to score a knockdown of his own with a straight left. The intensity picked up to an all time high as Pacquiao came forward to end the bout and hurt Marquez and broke his nose with a right hand while Marquez landed a right hand that would be the foreshadowing of the end. The end of the 5th saw Marquez on weary legs. The 6th round was dominated by Pacquiao who was landing combinations on Marquez, the ten second bell rang the end came as Pacquiao attempted his double jab feint with his hands and Marquez landed the perfect counter over right hand, that sealed the deal and left Pacquiao knocked out face first in the canvass. A bloody Marquez celebrated his victory and fans rejoiced in shock and awe around the world. These past 5 years has been muddled with PPV matches featuring Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao with opponents that no one wanted in uneventful one-sided affairs. For one night on boxing’s biggest stage, these two men reminded us why we love boxing. The fight of the year on PPV, who would have thought that fans would finally get their money’s worth.
2. Manny Pacquiao vs Erik Morales I, Jorge Arce vs Hussein Hussein
March 19, 2005. MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada. 345,000 PPV buys
I will never forget the night this PPV took place. I lived in Hawaii at the time and watched the PPV with a lot of Filipinos cheering for Pacquiao. I was the only one cheering for Morales and this PPV lived up to the expectations as if it were bought out of a catalog. The undercard match up was almost as good of a fight as the main event making this PPV that much more special. Fans were treated to a feast on this night and the main event immediately blew everyone away from the very first round where Morales showed that he was not afraid of Pacquiao and back him up against the ropes after taking some punches of his own. This PPV had an unbelievable crowd and the fights were amazing, there isn’t much more a boxing fan could ask for. In the post fight interview, Larry Merchant asked Erik Morales why he went southpaw in the 12th round to disastrous results as Pacquiao unloaded on Morales with right hooks. Erik Morales simply responded “did you like that?” Merchant responded, “ I loved it. “ Boxing fans loved it as well.
1. Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez II
March 15, 2008. Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada. 407,000 PPV buys
March 2008 was and is one of the greatest months in boxing history. In the same month boxing fans were treated to Rafael Marquez vs. Israel Vazquez III, Juan Diaz vs. Nate Campbell, Joel Casamayor vs. Michael Katsidis, and this PPV main event on consecutive weeks in the month. 2008 put the stamp that the lower weight classes were without question the divisions to watch in boxing. Pacquiao vs Marquez II was a boxing masterpiece. Boxing’s Picasso. A match up between two rivals in their prime and at their very best. Round by Round we witnessed skill and will on display. Boxing at it’s very best. A match up that had the action of a Lupe Pintor vs WIlfredo Gomez but with the skill on display of James Toney vs. Mike McCallum. Pacquiao was given the decision in this match up by 1 single point due to a knockdown he scored in the 3rd round. It didn’t matter. Both men were winner’s on this night and showed boxing and all sports, that when boxing at its best nothing can even compare.