Showtime's fight plan against HBO in the high-stakes game of pay-per-view boxing is simple: 1) Put Floyd Mayweather in a ring. 2) Have him fight a boxer with a super-loyal, global following. 3) Watch the pay-per-view numbers climb.
It worked once. Now the premium TV unit of CBS hopes it works again.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (R) hits Canelo Alvarez in their WBC/WBA 154-pound title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 14, 2013, in Las Vegas.Getty Images
In September, Showtime's pay-per-view of Mayweather vs. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, a Mexican redhead with a cult-like following in the U.S. as well as Mexico, became the highest-grossing pay-per-view of all time, hauling in $150 million. In terms of number of buys, it ranked second all-time at 2.2 million.
Showtime Sports General Manager Stephen Espinoza hopes Mayweather will turn in more big pay-per-view (PPV) results in May, this time against Amir Khan, a British speedster with a rabid following in the U.S., U.K., and the Asian subcontinent.
"There's no doubt that Amir has quite literally a worldwide fan base and a very demographically diverse fan base," Espinoza told CNBC, adding that among active boxers, Khan ranks second in total Twitter followers (after Mayweather). "That doesn't happen by accident," he said.