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September 1, 2014

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BOXING:

HBO playing up drama

Network again turns to ‘24/7’ series ahead of Marquez-Mayweather

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Steve Marcus

Floyd Mayweather Jr., shown working out for the media at Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas last September, hasn’t secured an opponent for his March 13 fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

One for the "Money"

Floyd Mayweather Jr. talks with the media as he prepares to come back to boxing for the first time in two years. Mayweather Jr. fights Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday, September 19th at the MGM Grand.

Mayweather Training

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, works on his timing with his uncle Roger Mayweather during a workout in his gym Thursday, June 11, 2009.  Launch slideshow »

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If You Go

  • What: Floyd Mayweather Jr. (39-0, 25 KOs) vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs), 12 scheduled rounds
  • When: Sept. 19
  • Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena
  • Tickets: $150-$1,000, mgmgrand.com
  • TV: HBO pay-per-view, $49.95

The sixth installment of HBO’s “24/7” franchise, this one designed to generate interest in the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez fight scheduled for Sept. 19 at the MGM Grand, has developed quite a following among boxing insiders.

Mayweather himself, and even his irascible trainer and uncle, Roger Mayweather, demonstrated they were familiar with — and moved by — the series during a recent question-and-answer session at Mayweather’s Las Vegas gym.

In a scene from Marquez’s training camp in Mexico City shown in “24/7,” Marquez was shown engaging in some unconventional tactics such as throwing small boulders.

“If it works, more power to him,” Mayweather Jr. said.

His uncle was less charitable.

“It ain’t a rock-throwing contest, it’s a boxing match,” Roger Mayweather said. “Rocks don’t move. Rocks don’t dodge. He can throw all the rocks he wants. I don’t give a (expletive) about no rocks.”

Such impassioned responses to the program are not limited to participants in the sport, according to Mark Taffet, senior vice president of HBO Pay-Per-View.

Taffet called “24/7” an integral part of a $20 million marketing push behind the Mayweather-Marquez bout, a comprehensive multimedia effort that he said heralds a “new age of megafight promotion.”

“Wherever consumers read, watch, listen, eat, shop, drive, surf, download, tweet or text they will be surrounded by over 700 million impressions about the Mayweather-Marquez fight,” Taffet said from New York on a teleconference to discuss the marketing aspects of the fight.

To that end, the first episode of the Mayweather-Marquez version of “24/7,” which Taffet called “the single most impactful program of the past 10 years to reach the next generation of boxing fans in the way they want to be reached,” has been made available on a variety of Web sites and digital outlets.

The goal is to draw younger people and novice boxing fans into the sport, Taffet said.

“That’s very important because it’s taking the most powerful program and making it available to younger fans and the new fans to get an attachment to these athletes, which we know will extend to their interest in the sport of boxing,” Taffet said.

The marketing blitz also includes plans to distribute live video from the weigh-in on Sept. 18; an online, “overtime” version of “24/7” scheduled to be shown live from the press room at the MGM Grand on fight night; and music playlists created by the Mayweather and Marquez camps available on iTunes.

“We’ve got to reach younger fans and we’ve got to reach them in the way they’re consuming media today,” Taffet said. “We call it the hunger to go younger. It’s our mantra.”

The familiar rap against Mayweather is that he has difficulty selling a fight himself and that he needs a popular foil — think Oscar De La Hoya or Ricky Hatton — to produce strong pay-per-view sales.

Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, disputed that assertion. Mayweather’s pay-per-view fights have generated 4.5 million “buys,” Schaefer said, an average of 900,000 buys per fight for a total of about $250 million in pay-per-view revenue alone.

He expects more of the same in Mayweather’s fight against Marquez, the top fighter from boxing-mad Mexico, especially considering the unprecedented marketing effort surrounding the fight.

Not only will a closed-circuit feed of the fight be shown at more than 170 movie theaters nationwide, but commercials for the pay-per-view telecast are also airing on more than 1,500 movie-theater screens, Schaefer said. A special edition of The Ring ($10) doubling as the fight program can be found on newsstands nationwide, and Tecate beer is offering $55 worth of rebate coupons for customers who purchase the fight on pay-per-view ($49.95).

“We’re increasing the awareness of this fight and really taking the fight to the consumers,” Schaefer said.

Meanwhile, the third of four episodes of the Mayweather-Marquez version of “24/7” is scheduled to debut Saturday on HBO, with the finale set for Sept. 18.

“Juan Manuel Marquez was phenomenal when you saw his various training techniques, some of which are more interesting or controversial than others,” Taffet said, referring to yet another scene in which Marquez is shown drinking his urine from a tasteful lowball glass. “You know Marquez is serious about his preparations for this fight.”

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