Friday, September 11, 2009

Boxing trying to reach out to new consumers

NEW YORK — When a young Evander Holyfield fought an aged George Foreman nearly 20 years ago, there wasn't much publicity necessary. A few press tours, some television ads, and some carefully crafted newspaper stories generated plenty of interest.
To the tune of 1.4 million pay-per-view buys.

Even today, when big fights are synonymous with the buy-for-battle format, Holyfield-Foreman remains one of the top 10 boxing events in terms of viewership. The reasons it has rarely been trumped are many and varied, from waning interest in the sport to stagnant promotions, to the sheer number of alternatives for the casual sports fan.

These days, traditional means of promoting a big fight are not enough.

"Boxing has to reach a younger audience, a new audience," HBO Sports vice president Mark Taffett said Wednesday. "We need to connect them to the athletes to move the sport forward."

Golden Boy Promotions and HBO understand this, and are embarking on a marketing blitz unlike anything the sport has seen in recent years, focused on raising awareness for Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s fight against Juan Manuel Marquez on Sept. 19 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

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