In the coming months we are set to see boxing resume under a full fledged "new normal". We have seen shows taking place recently, but they have all been rather small, low key affairs, with few of them having on any sort of world level action. We'll admit we have really enjoyed some of the bouts, and credit to Top Rank for giving some little known fighters some TV exposure, but they haven't yet been "big bouts" or "big names" in action. Shakur Stevenson is probably the most notable fighter to fight so far, and that was in a knock over job against someone who shouldn't have been in the ring with him.
It's when we come to the big names and the big bouts that we really are going to see, or rather not going to see, some interesting things happen over the rest of 2021.
We have already seen some fighters, for example Ryan Garcia, turn down a fight due to the purse he's been offered. We have seen other fighters stating they want to be paid more to fight in a non-fan environment.
We know that some fans will say a fighter should get as much money as they can. The sport is a dangerous one and they are taking potentially life changing damage every time they step in the ring. And to some extent I agree, though there are some real issues here which I'll get on to shortly. But lets all begin with the idea that a fighter has the right to ask for the most money they can possibly get.
Lets also agree that a promoter is a business man, and that in the business of boxing a promoter is to think about their own bottom line as well. They are, for all intents, doing the same thing a boxer is. They are putting their own financial well being first. We agree a boxer should, so a promoter, albeit a less physically risky job, should do the same. With that in mind, I suspect we can all agree a promoter has the right to offer whatever purse they deem fit.
We can then agree that the two sides can then negotiate to find terms they either can agree on, likely with the fighter lowering their demands and the promoter upping their offer, or both sides walking away, potentially even before getting near the negotiating table.
Typically that's fine. In this current age however a fighter maybe needs to think about more than their purse for the rest of 2020. They may have to look at the bigger picture. A fighter who can't agree terms to fight in the next few months may end up not fighting at all in 2020. They may end up sitting on the shelf for the year, losing momentum, getting rusty, and in some cases even being stripped of their titles, at the top level. The bodies do have the ability to strip a fighter for inactivity, and whilst they will almost certainly show some leniency that might not exist across the board, especially if a fighter wasn't active in 2019.
For example Felix Alvarado hasn't defended the IBF Light Flyweight title since May 2019 and Yuniel Dorticos hasn't defended the IBF Cruiserweight title he won in June 2019. Manuel Charr and Biebut Shumenov take these even further. Shumenov still holds the WBA "regular" Cruiserweight title that he won in July 2018, without defending it, and Charr has held the WBA "regular" Heavyweight title since November 2017, without defending it.
We understand situations for each fighter are different, such as Alvarado being pencilled in to fight last December before falling ill, but momentum has been lost and titles could also be lost.
A fighter who decides to sit out 2020 may end up finding themselves waiting a long time to fight again. Yes they should be paid, but the purses in the "new normal" aren't likely to be what they were before hand. Fighters will need to reasses their value, as will promoters, streaming services and televisions companies. Without ticket sales a promoter isn't going to get money at the gate, site fees are going to be none existent, we would expect TV revenue to be down, as advertisers cut back as well.
Of course a fighter should take all the money they can. But a fighter without a title typically gets less than they do with it. A fighter not fighting gets less than they do by fighting. A fighting sitting on the side loses fans, loses momentum, and loses out on a pay day.
Whilst it sounds like we're taking the side of the promoters we're not. They will also need to look at themselves. The Top Rank shows so far have been poor. Even fans starved of live sport haven't tuned in. The promoters need to realise the value of a star now more than ever, they also need to realise that this is a great opportunity to give fans 50-50 style bouts and to show them TV friendly fighters.
Fighters like Eric Mondragon and Mike Danny Sanchez provided something brilliant for fans whilst Adam Lopez and Luis Coria put on a show. Mike Plania saw his chance to shine and took it. Matching fighters with nothing to lose and everything to gain to bulk up the cards on offer is the best idea, let these kids shine, give them the platform.
Promoters are in a bind. They have spots to fill but know that they can't put on garbage bouts. Fans aren't that hungry. They also know they need their stars, they need to budge on the purses, just as much as the fighters. Both sides however need to be realistic. Purses aren't going to be what they once were, at least not for some time, but is it worth getting older, moving further past your prime and wasting your career away in the hope of getting the money you once got?
Fighters aren't getting younger. Moruti Mthalane and Gennady Golovkin have turned 38 since their last bouts, Nonito Donaire is 38 in November, Wanheng Menayothin and Jamel Herring are 35 in October, Nordine Oubaali is 34 in August and Terence Crawford turns 33 in September. The earning time is running down. I'm not saying these guys are turning down fights, but they are examples of fighters who are on the wrong side of 30 and losing a year of their career right now could be the end.
The "new normal" is going to be hard. For fighters, for promoters and for us all. Please do what you can to make your life a little bit better following the dark months we've had and the dark yet to come. Boxing, for some of us, is a little bit of a light in a dark world right now. We all want to enjoy it, so lets make the most of what we have, and look back into the huge archives of the sport for when nothing takes our fancy and we want to enjoy this fantastic sport.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces