- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It might not be possible for Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s bout for the WBC junior middleweight championship to live up to the hype, but tickets sales suggest people are buying in.

With less than a month before the May 5 “superfight” at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, ticket brokers and resellers are reporting few tickets available for less than $1,000, with some costing more than the down payment of many houses.

Tickets for the event sold out in February in just more than two hours, establishing a live gate record of $19 million. With tickets now only available through resellers and brokers, prices have been reaching record levels for a boxing match.

The average ticket price on ticket reseller Ticketsnow.com was $1,700, with some floor seats going for more than $16,000. Stubhub.com, another reselling site, showed one ticket being offered for $35,000.

“We’re talking Super Bowl prices here,” Ticketsnow.com spokeswoman Jennifer Swanson said. “This is one of those experiential events. This is a very big deal for boxing fans, but not only boxing fans, but those people interested in rubbing elbows with famous people.”

Swanson said the demand for tickets to the fight will likely top that of the Kentucky Derby, which is on the same day.

Many boxing observers have labeled the De La Hoya-Mayweather bout as one of the first “superfights” in years. Mayweather will enter the bout as an undefeated titleholder, while De La Hoya — once considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world — looks to solidify his reputation as one of the elite fighter’s of all time. Former rivals Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins have allied with De La Hoya, while Mayweather is being trained by his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., a former welterweight contender who had been training De La Hoya.

For those unwilling or unable to empty their wallets to see the fight in person, it will be available through HBO Pay-Per-View, which is making the fight available to a record 61 million people. Dish Network, a satellite provider, began allowing people to buy the event last week, the earliest any cable or satellite provider has put a boxing match on sale, according to Mark Taffet, senior vice president of HBO Sports and Pay-Per-View.

Taffet declined to offer a solid prediction of pay-per-view buys, but said it could top one million.

“It will take its place as one of the top pay-per-view fights of all time,” Taffet said. “We really believe that on May 5, casual and even non-casual sports fans and even non-sports fans will appreciate this event.”

MGM, meanwhile, plans to sell as many as 20,000 seats to closed-circuit broadcasts of the fight at seven of its casinos on the Las Vegas strip. Tickets for the closed-circuit venues are selling for upwards of $50.

De La Hoya and Mayweather began promoting their bout in February with publicity events in 11 major cities, including the District. De La Hoya’s promotion company, Golden Boy Promotions, has partnered with HBO on a documentary series highlighting the fighters’ activities leading up to the fight. The first episode airs Sunday.

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