SKY SPORTS hoped the numbers would be big and they weren’t disappointed.

Saturday’s WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight title fight between Andy Ruiz Jnr and Anthony Joshua secured a staggering 1.6 million pay-per-view buys (according to the Daily Mail) in the United Kingdom, at a bumped up price of £24.95, making it the most popular Sky Sports Box Office boxing event of all time.

The rematch, which took place in Saudi Arabia, didn’t catch fire the way many hoped, ultimately lacking the drama of the pair’s June encounter, yet what did it for fans was the pre-fight intrigue and the story of Joshua seeking revenge.

Initially, fans were incensed by Sky Sports’ decision to increase their usual PPV price of £14.95 but this didn’t seem to translate in the eventual numbers. In fact, so popular was Ruiz vs. Joshua II, it toppled the 2017 war between Joshua and long-reigning former champion Wladimir Klitschko, which secured 1.5 million buys at the cheaper price of £14.95. It also now sets Joshua up for a string of lucrative title defences, all of which will be shown on Sky Sports and sold at the new inflated price. (According to reports, boxing in the Middle East guaranteed Joshua a £46m purse and the pay-per-view figures in the UK, should they be true, will ensure AJ surpasses the £50m mark.)

Sky Sports Box Office’s biggest boxing pay-per-view events:

1. Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz II – 1.6m buys

2. Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko (2017) – 1.5m buys

3. Anthony Joshua vs Joseph Parker (2018) – 1.45m buys

4. Floyd Mayweather vs Ricky Hatton (2007) – 1.15m buys

5. Wladimir Klitschko vs David Haye (2011) – 1.14m buys

6. Tony Bellew vs David Haye II (2018) – 890,000 buys

7. Anthony Joshua vs Carlos Takam (2017) – 887,000 buys

8. Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquaio (2015) – 876,000 buys

9. Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor (2017) – 874,000 buys

10. David Haye vs Tony Bellew (2017) – 775,000 buys

A return to power (Mark Robinson)

UFC star Jorge Masvidal is still on the prowl for a boxing match.

Correction: UFC star Jorge Masvidal is still on the prowl for a boxing match against a famous boxer likely to generate the kind of life-changing payday Masvidal so desperately craves.

Yeah, that’s better.

Truth is, Masvidal wants not any old boxer but one with a big name. A name like Canelo Alvarez, for example, or, failing that, Floyd Mayweather. He makes no apologies for the approach, either.

“Me versus Mayweather,” Masvidal said during an interview with TMZ when asked if fighting Mayweather was a bigger fight than him fighting Conor McGregor. “I want cash money. I got children and those children’s got needs.

“I love to fight and one of my first loves growing up was boxing. Then I fell in love with wrestling and then the UFC came about.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I can do them both of them at the same damn time.’ I fell in love with the UFC and that’s all I’ve done, the MMA. But I can box my ass off.”

Thirty-five-year-old Masvidal, a UFC welterweight on a great run of form, doesn’t claim to be a better boxer than Floyd Mayweather but does, like McGregor before him, believe he would bring a unique intensity and style which could give the undefeated boxing great problems. More than that, though, he just wants the chance to make some of that Mayweather money.

“Not saying I’m a better boxer than Mayweather but, man, I’m going to be in there with bad intentions trying to hurt him,” Masvidal claimed. “I’m a well-conditioned athlete who’s not going to fade. I’m not going to fade in the eighth or ninth round (like McGregor). I’m going to be there for the whole night. I want to get into the biggest, toughest, roughest fights that I possibly can and make a pay cheque for them as well – get compensated for my skills.”

Mayweather, now 43, recently announced plans to return to the ring in collaboration with UFC President Dana White. And though it is not yet known the extent of the comeback – or whether it will feature him in the role of boxer or promoter – Masvidal, and presumably plenty of others, will be more than happy to welcome him back to the fold.

“If you’re looking for a fight, I’m right here,” he said. “If you’re looking for an easy pay cheque, then go back to Japan and beat up those little guys. If you want to fight a guy like Khabib Nurmagomedov who doesn’t know how to box, I get it, man.

“Mayweather has paid his dues; he can do whatever the hell he wants.

“If he wants something he has to get up for early in the morning, train in the morning, train at night, that’s me, man. But if you want something easy, man, then yeah, get the other dudes.”

Masvidal could be in luck. For, if he is semi-serious about boxing again, someone like ‘Gambred’, a famous face in the UFC with limited boxing ability, is probably just what Floyd Mayweather is after.  

Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor weigh in
Masvidal would offer more than McGregor could, says Masvidal (Action Images)