The economy is delivering a killer right hook: For the first time ever, a promoter of a marquee boxing match is offering national rebates on its pay-per-view rates.

The Oscar de la Hoya versus Manny Pacquiao boxing match scheduled for Dec. 6 was supposed to be the biggest pay-per-view event of all time, but promoters aren't so sure now. The expectations that de la Hoya's promotional company, Golden Boy Promotions, had for the fight have been tempered due to the slowdown in the U.S. economy.

"Sometimes, economic situations make you think about certain things that you maybe wouldn't think about," said Richard Schaefer, chief executive of Los Angeles-based Golden Boy.

The current economic decline led Schaefer to ask his sponsors to find ways to activate their brands nationally to promote the fight. In an unprecedented move, sponsors will offer rebates nationally to the pay-per-view telecast.

The fight will be available on HBO pay-per-view for $54.95. Tecate Beer and Casadores Tequila each are offering $20 mail-in rebates, while Coca-Cola's Full Throttle Energy Drink brand has a $10 mail-in rebate promotion. A customer could get $50 worth of rebate checks, although he'd have to buy the products.

Tecate has provided coupons for mail-in rebates for several Golden Boy fights in the past, but only in certain regional markets. Those promotions increased viewership and Golden Boy noticed, according to Carlos Boughton, Tecate brand director.

"Results were always higher than what they were expecting," Boughton said. "For the upcoming fight, we have an unprecedented promotion at the point of sale."

Such promotions are expected to push the fight's revenue to more than $100 million, making it the highest-grossing fight of 2008. Other revenue includes $17 million from ticket sales, plus sponsorships, closed-circuit television revenue and foreign rights.

Offering pay-per-view rebates was not part of the original plan for this bout, but Schaeffer said doing so will increase advertising and add value for the fight's sponsors. He expects future matches promoted by Golden Boy to include a mail-in rebate offer from sponsors, even after the economy eventually turns around.

"It's great for the fans and for the sponsors that are aligning their brands with boxing because they get additional exposure," he said. "When the world goes through economic turmoil, businesses come out stronger and more efficient."

Head Strong

For sports equipment manufacturer Easton Bell Sports Inc., the third quarter was a challenging time to sell consumer products. Nevertheless, the Van Nuys-based company saw significant growth in its sales of hockey equipment, which helped boost revenues by 7.8 percent to $204 million.

"We are worried about the economy, but participation in sports remains strong," said Paul Harrington, chief executive.

Hockey equipment sales were healthy as the company released new products that were developed using technology from other sports. The company introduced a hockey helmet that is being used by National Hockey League players. Easton's Riddell brand manufactures football helmets used by National Football League, college and high school teams.

The company also released a new hockey stick in November that incorporates technology used in golf clubs.

"The stick has its weight distributed in a way that is similar to the balance of a golf club," Harrington said.

Already Expanding

When the Los Angeles Sports Museum opens Nov. 28, the 32,000-square-foot facility hopes to attract visitors from around the world to the South L.A. location.

The museum features an impressive collection of vintage memorabilia including cards, jerseys, movie posters and other items that businessman Gary Cypres amassed over two decades. And it's on its way to becoming even more impressive.

Avid collector Cypres is already working on the second phase of the museum. After filling up the ground floor, he realized that he was already out of space.

"Ideally, I would use the building's second floor to expand the public display, but fire safety regulations prevent that," Cypres said. Instead, he is working with the Department of Building and Safety to get permits to expand the museum's ground floor by 12,000 square feet.

"I'd like to add a wing where I can display my boxing and hockey collections, and have an area where I can have other traveling collections on display," Cypres said.

Located south of downtown at the intersection of Washington and Main streets, the collection is housed in a building that he purchased after the 1992 riots. Cypres has moved nearly his entire collection into the building from his Brentwood home, and said that his wife is happy to have the memorabilia out of the house.

"She let me keep my bed at the house," he joked.

Staff reporter David Nusbaum can be reached at dnusbaum@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 236.

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