Whatever the end results of the PPV count from the fight with Saul Canelo Alvarez, Floyd Mayweather continues to be the reigning king (with a little Mexican help) of PPV fights, as either his fight against Oscar De La Hoya or his most recent bout are the most ordered fights on Pay-Per-View, with the top 10 made up of fights that involve either him or Mike Tyson except for two.
The outstanding incidents are the 1999 fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad and the Heavyweight bout between George Foreman and Evander Holyfield.
Floyd Mayweather vs Shane Mosley (2010) – 1.4 Million
At the time, it was called the most anticipated welterweight matchup since Sugar Ray Leonard stopped Thomas Hearns in the 14th round in 1981, although it wasn’t the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight many wanted. Mosley was 38 at the time, with five losses on his record. He did manage to be one of the few to actually put Mayweather in trouble with two big rights in the second round, but Mayweather picked up the pace from the non out, winning in a unanimous decision 119-109, 119-109, 118-108. It was also the first fight in the United States to go under Olympic drug testing.
Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Trinidad (1999) – 1.4 Million
A fight that pitted De La Hoya, undefeated at 31-0, with the WBC Welterweight title, against Felix Trinidad, 36-0, and the IBF champion at the weight. A very close fight, the last of the so-called superfights in the 20th century, dominated early by De La Hoya, who looked exhausted by the the ninth round. Trinidad was the chaser and aggressor in the final rounds, but didn’t manage to land any big hits. However, he won the fight on a controversial majority decision 115–113, 115–114, 114–114. At the time, it was the most watched non-heavyweight PPV fight.
Evander Holyfield vs George Foreman (1991) – 1.4 Million
Foreman was four years out of retirement with a 23-0 record since coming back, but an underdog against the much younger champion, who wanted to fight Mike Tyson but his arrest led him to take on the 42-year old Foreman. Holyfield looked better for most of the fight, but it was mostly remembered for the 7th round which saw Foreman land a big right hook on Holyfield, who later recovered and landed a 15-second, multiple punch combination that staggered Foreman. It ended in a UD for Holyfield, winning 116–111, 117–110, 115–112 and retaining his heavyweight title belts.
Miguel Cotto vs Floyd Mayweather (2012) – 1.5 Million
A fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather continued to be ducked by either men for money or drug or something else, so fighting Miguel Cotto at 154 for Cotto’s Light Middleweight title was the best thing he could have taken a short while before heading to prison in Las Vegas. Cotto, as most who fight Mayweather, was backed by the fans, and was even able to get some blood dripping out of Mayweather’s nose, but that was close as he got, in another dominant performance from Mayweather, winning by a UD of 117–111, 117–111, 118–110.
Mike Tyson vs. Peter McNeeley (1995) – 1.55 Million
For his first fight in over four years, Tyson chose McNeely, who was 36-1 at the time, but not really someone who posed any threat to any of the top dogs in the diminishing Heavyweight division. The fight lasted only 89 seconds with Tyson earning an easy victory via disqualification. McNelly was dropped less than 10 seconds in the fight. After the fight continued and a short exchange, he was dropped again, his manager Vinnie Vecchione entered the ring to prevent McNeeley from taking any more damage, ending the fight.
Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield (1996) – 1.59 Million
The first fight between the two, five years too late. Tyson was defending the WBA heavyweight title he won a couple of months earlier, while Holyfield was attempting to become the first fighter since Muhammad Ali to regain the heavyweight championship twice. In what was then considered an upset victory, Holyfield dominated Tyson with clever counterpunching and keeping Tyson on his backfoot for most of the fight, including knocking him down once. As the fight progressed, Holyfield was on the verge of knocking out Tyson numerous times, until it was stopped in the 11th round, giving Holyfield the TKO victory.
Lennox Lewis vs Mike Tyson (2002) – 1.94 Million
A fight that occurred in Memphis because Las Vegas rejected the fight and several other states refused Tyson a license. While Tyson managed to remain in the fight for the first five rounds that included several warnings to both fighters for headbutting and pushing, he weakened and tired from that moment, and was knocked down twice in the eighth round, never getting up from the second blow.
Evander Holyfield vs Mike Tyson (1997) – 1.99 Million
The rematch between the two heavyweight was probably the moment that signaled the end for Mike Tyson’s career, even though it carried on for a few more year. The fight didn’t last more than three rounds, as Holyfield easily dominated a frustrated Mike Tyson, who decided that biting his opponents is the best course of action. Some say he was afraid to carry on fighting, although Tyson initially claimed it was a retaliation for headbutting. Tyson was caught biting for a second time in the third round, causing a disqualification and a long brawl inside the ring between the corners.
Floyd Mayweather vs Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (For Now) – 2.2 Million (2013)
For now, the count is at 2.2 million, but it should go up and reach around 2.5 million, which will make it, more or less, the most watched PPV boxing event in history. Alvarez did go in undefeated into the fight, but the young Mexican fighter, enjoying a big advantage in size, wasn’t fast or clever enough in the ring against a much better boxer, never really being able to penetrate Mayweather’s defense. The scorecards gave Mayweather a weird majority decision, with one ringside judge scoring it 114-114 for some reason, while the others gave it a 116-112, and 117-111.
Floyd Mayweather vs Oscar De La Hoya (2007) – 2.52 Million
At the time, it was the biggest PPV boxing event in history, mostly due to De La Hoya’s popularity despite being near the end of his career. It what was possibly viewed as the passing of the torch, Mayweather became the premier PPV draw in the sport, while De La Hoya retired 18 months later, following a loss to Manny Pacquiao. In the fight (at 154), De La Hoya was probably the more aggressive fighter, but couldn’t really hurt Mayweather, fighting a very tactical and defensive fight, earning him a split decision victory at 115-113, 116-112, 113-115.