A point I've seen a lot of on twitter in recent days, especially concerning one big fight pencilled in for the summer, is that "Fighters should get as much money as they can for risking their health". Which is usually combined with "any fight could be their last" and "they could be permanently injured, or even die".
All these points are true. Every word is true. But the crux of the matter, is that the people making these points are the fans. The same fans that want to see big fights, and see the best fight the best in their primes. The same fans who are unhappy that we don't get the fights we want when we want them.
Sadly fighters wanting to make as much money as possible, comes with the caveat that taking risky, punishing, big fights isn't the best game plan. And hasn't been for quite some time. In fact it usually makes more financial sense to drag out the process of having the big fights as late as possible, and making bank before those monster fights.
Before I look at the reason why lets just put the cards on the table and state a universal agreement that we all have with boxing we all want boxers to get out of the sport with 3 things. Some money, their health and their life. This is for every one who steps in the ring. Fighters at different levels will obviously want different things, such as world titles and glory, but whether it's Saul Canelo Alvarez or Anthony Joshua, at the top table, or Takuya Yamaguchi and Somsak Ragburee at the other end of the spectrum we want everyone to retire better off financially than they were when they entered the sport. We want them to have their health and not be damaged as humans. And we want them to still be alive when they leave the ring for the final time.
As boxing fans we might all disagree on everything else, but it's fair to assume that it is universal that we want fighters to have those 3 things, albeit with the level of financial benefit ranging massively. We can also agree that many of the biggest fights don't get made when both fighters are in their primes. Yes we still get super fights, and a lot of very good fights, but those mega fights that we all want don't tend to come around when, and as, they should.
Part of this is risk/reward, and again, the idea that a boxer should make as much money as possible in their career. Sadly that ethos is delaying the big fights, massively, and potentially costing the sport longer term in it's fan base and creditability.
One of the fights we obvious all want to see is Errol Spence Vs Terence Crawford Jr, and it's fair to say that both men would deserve a career high pay day for this bout. And we day say that both would want financial parity, or as close to possible to it, and given the risk of a loss, both would maybe even want a bit extra thrown on top as well.
Reportedly the highest pay day, so far, for Spence is around $10million for facing Danny Garcia, in a bout where he was a generally regarded 1/5 favourite. The highest pay day so far for Crawford was round $5.5million to face Amir Khan, in a bout where he was a 1/3 favourite.
(Note -You're about to see some very rough maths, but you should be able to see the point being made)
Just for both men to match their highest pay days so far we are already looking at a combined kitty of around $15.5 million. But of course both men will want more than they've earned for a fight in the past. So we can generously assume Spence would want around $12.5 million, a career high. Crawford would not just want a career high pay day, but would also want to be nearer to Spence, so we can assume, a minimum of $9 million. Together a minimum of $21.5 million for this fight. It might be viable. Potentially. Though there is a good argument that, given the risk of both men losing here, they would want that topped up further.
At the moment several UK bookies have priced up a potential bout between Crawford and Spence, and they have made Crawford an 8/13 favourite and Spence a 5/4 under-dog. Given both are risking world titles and unbeaten records, in what would be their toughest match up on paper they may even want another million or so each, pulling the cost up to $23.5 million between the two men.
On the other hand both men could continue to do what they are doing. Taking relative safe fights and keeping the money ticking over without risking a loss. Especially if the first focus is making as much money from the sport as possible.
Crawford was, according to several sources, paid $4m to face Egidijus Kavaliauskas and slightly more to face Kell Brook. Two bouts where he almost unbackable as a favourite. And two bouts that took a combined 13 rounds in which he lost maybe 3 or 4. We can criticse him for taking easier fights than Spence, but if he's able to demand $4m for fights like one against Kavaliauskas, which was a mandatory, we can fully understand why he's in no rush to face Spence.
Likewise Spence got $10m to face Danny Garcia! A man he was expected to beat with ease. He also got a guaranteed $3m to face Mikey Garcia with a reported payment of $8m in the end, another man he was a massive favourite to beat, and guaranteed $1.2m to beat Carlos Ocampo. Is it in his best interest to face Crawford?
Also with Crawford turning 34 in September, is the fight maybe set to lose some allure already? He's no longer in his prime, and in 18 months he'll be 35, with fighters fighting maybe once every 6 months it could be that any delay sees him physically fading whilst Spence himself is around 3 years younger, and has a bit of time on his side if he intends to wait for the bout, and collect another few of those solid $5-8m paydays.
We're not here to say what a fighter should or shouldn't get paid. At the end of the day we don't see a penny of that money, and we doubt anyone reading this does. What we do see are fights, and part of the reason we're not seeing the fight we want to see, is because fighters can make more money by fighting the safer bouts.
We can call fighters duckers, we can say they avoid the top fighters and they play politics. The reality however is that they do what is best for them financially, and we tune in, complain, and wonder why we don't get the bouts we want, whilst defending the concept that fighters should make as much as they can. It's a vicious circle and one we, as fans, are constantly playing our part in.
Going back to the big fight we've seen this conversation about, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, we need to realise Tyson Fury got a reported £12m (yes that's supposed to be a £ symbol) to face Otto Wallin! And $28 million guarantee against Deontay Wilder. Joshua, on the other hand got a reported £10m (again £) to face Pulev, and "upwards of £50m" (again £) for the rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr. Both men obviously want significantly more to face each other.
Do they deserve it? We're not say, but given they are being paid so much, for easy bouts, you can understand why negotiations here are taking so long and why other big fights take so long to get agreed.
What we also need to remember is that these huge purses need to come from somewhere. And whilst that is partially our pockets, through ticket sales and PPV, it also comes from the TV provider and site fees. When the broadcasters budget runs out, guess what? We as fans suffer with some terrible bouts as a result.
Remember when you defend large purses you maybe, in some cases, doing so at the detriment of the sport at large.
Sources regarding paydays for the bouts mentioned:
https://cashflowsports.com/2020/12/02/spence-vs-garcia-time-venue-purse-undercards-odds-more/#:~:text=Purse%20Details%3A,pay%2Dper%2Dview%20revenue. (Spence Vs Danny Garcia $10m)
https://www.express.co.uk/sport/boxing/1116660/Amir-Khan-Terence-Crawford-purse-prize-money-how-much (Crawford Vs Khan $5.5m)
https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshkatzowitz/2020/11/14/terence-crawford-vs-kell-brook-odds-purses-records-prediction/ (Crawford Vs Brook $4m)
https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshkatzowitz/2019/12/13/terence-crawford-vs-mean-machine-egidijus-kavaliauskas-odds-purses-records-prediction-eddie-hearn-disses-showtime/#:~:text=It's%20unclear%20exactly%20how%20much,minimum%20of%20a%20%245.5%20million. (Crawford $4m Vs Kavaliauskus)
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianmazique/2019/03/16/errol-spence-jr-vs-mikey-garcia-purse-info-and-final-weigh-in-details/?sh=6bdae8437695 (Spence Vs Mikey Garcia $8m)
https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshkatzowitz/2018/06/16/errol-spence-vs-carlos-ocampo-live-results-purses-odds-prediction/ (Spence $1.2m Vs Ocampo)
https://metro.co.uk/2019/09/14/tyson-fury-earn-12m-fight-purse-otto-wallin-clash-10744497/ (Fury £12 to face Wallin)
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianmazique/2020/02/21/guaranteed-purses-for-deontay-wilder-vs-tyson-fury-rematch-are-impressive-per-report/?sh=58764ac75042 (Tyson Fury $28 million to face wilder)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/boxing/2020/12/14/joshua-vs-pulev-fight-purse-how-much-money-win-earn/#:~:text=Joshua%20vs%20Pulev%20fight%20purse%20%2D%20how%20much%20was%20earned%3F,the%20region%20of%20%C2%A33m. (Joshua £10 Vs Pulev)
https://talksport.com/sport/boxing/551346/anthony-joshua-net-worth-2020-money-kubrat-pulev-tyson-fury-career-earnings/ (Joshua £50m to face Ruiz)
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).