Once thought of as one of the hottest prize fights of the year, the Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas this Saturday, December 6, is proving to be a tough sell for ticket brokers.

According to several brokers and ticket executives who spoke to TicketNews, despite the star power of the two combatants, hundreds of tickets to the lightweight fight are being offered by some brokers for far below face value. Dozens of tickets remain listed on TicketNetwork and StubHub today, and even premium ticket carrying face values of $1,500 each were available from Ticketmaster Entertainment.

One broker estimated that of the hundreds of remaining tickets on the secondary market, “60 percent to 70 percent” are currently going for below face value. And on some broker sites, $750 face value tickets were being peddled for $400.

Initial sales for the bout were strong at the time it was announced in late August, prompting organizers to quickly proclaim it had sold out. Many brokers jumped in with both feet, snapping up a lot of tickets because they expected the market to stay hot. But within weeks, it had cooled dramatically, right around the time the economy took a sharp turn with the bad news about Lehman Brothers and other financial institutions.

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“De La Hoya/Pacquiao is a complete nightmare,” said one East Coast broker. “We don’t have any tickets, but everyone who does is getting killed. It’s [all about] the economy. Who is spending big bucks to see a fight when you might not have a job tomorrow?”

The slowed down economy, the rise of mixed martial arts as an alternative to boxing, overzealous brokers overestimating the bout’s allure or simply the decline in popularity of the “sweet science” all played a role in the tepid sales.

On StubHub, officials said the average selling price per ticket is $1,358; the low selling price is $275 up to a high of $10,995. By comparison, the average selling price for tickets to the Floyd Mayweather, Jr./Ricky Hatton fight in December 2007 on StubHub was $2,026.

Several of the premium $1,500 face value seats in the lower levels near ringside for Saturday night are currently being listed on StubHub for $900 to $1,200. But, the site still has some sellers listing ringside seats for $16,000 each.

“This dream match between two of the biggest names in boxing is the sport’s Super Bowl of the year, but we have noticed that fans are a bit more conservative about their ticket purchases, especially in the midst of the holiday season,” StubHub spokesperson Joellen Ferrer told TicketNews. “Fans seem to be less concerned with seating and more concerned about pricing, so they are waiting to see how ticket prices fare with just a couple days to the fight.”

The difficulty selling tickets to this fight might begin to slowly turn off some brokers to boxing. “There are no true superfights anymore – just upper echelon fights like Joe Calzaghe/Roy Jones Jr. from a couple weeks ago which was largely ignored cause both fighters are at the ends of their careers,” said one broker.

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And as another veteran ticketing executive put it, the era of the ultra high-priced ticket is dying off because of the current economy. “Soft demand for expensive tickets for a fight that could be over in seconds or minutes? That doesn’t surprise me at all.”

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(The image accompanying this story is from EastSideBoxing.com)

Last Updated on December 5, 2008

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