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Friday, September 21, 2012
Viewers flock to Martinez-Chavez

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez's unanimous decision victory last Saturday night against titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., which featured one of the most dramatic endings in boxing history, generated 475,000 pay-per-view buys, HBO reported Friday.

The pay-per-view total, consisting of 250,000 buys from satellite services and 225,000 buys from cable and telco systems, generated nearly $25 million in domestic television revenue for the fight held at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

HBO PPV chief Mark Taffet said the numbers, as usual, are expected to rise once they are fully reported.

"It's an extremely solid number," Taffet said. "I expect the figures to go up as we collect more of them."

The figure is particularly strong considering it was the first time Martinez ever has been on pay-per-view and it was the first time Chavez has headlined a major pay-per-view card.

"It significantly exceeded our original expectations of 250,000 buys," Taffet said. "Fight fans had been talking about and looking forward to Chavez-Martinez for a year. The pay-per-view performance simply reflects that the fans got the fight they wanted."

Taffet estimated that more than 2 million people watched the fight.

"Pay-per-view fights typically have an average of five or more viewers per household," he said. "Based on the group viewing phenomenon of pay-per-view, it's likely well over 2 million people watched the fight."

What they saw was an action fight but one Martinez dominated -- until the final round.

That is when Chavez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) -- who tested positive for marijuana after the fight and faces a suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission -- rocked Martinez and knocked him down hard with 90 seconds left in the 12th round, sending the largely pro-Chavez sold-out crowd into a frenzy.

Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KOs) regrouped and, with blood streaming down his face, fought Chavez toe-to-toe until the final bell.

Martinez won a unanimous decision on scores of 118-109, 118-109 and 117-110. He fractured his left hand in the fourth round and suffered a minor tear in his right knee on the knockdown and is scheduled for surgery next week.

The fight will be replayed on Saturday night (HBO, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT) and will be followed by a new edition of "The Fight Game with Jim Lampley," blow-by-blow man Lampley's studio show on which the fallout from the fight will be discussed.