Bumps in the Road for Boxing

Much has been made about the contentious preseasons in MLB and the NFL, as players’ unions, league leadership, and owners negotiated a path toward these most unusual seasons. But boxing is a different beast, where promoters make matches and there are no union protections for fighters. Last month on the blog, Jose Izquierdo celebrated the return of boxing, while noting likely challenges, especially the tension between promoter’s desire for fighters to take big purse cuts (to offset revenue losses from a lack of fans in arenas) and boxers’ expectations that contracts are upheld. This is now playing out with some of the sport’s biggest names, with both Terence Crawford and Canelo Alvarez taking vocal stands against the possibility of taking reduced pay for upcoming bouts. I reached out to Izquierdo for his take on these developments and his chief concern is that there simply might not be enough money in the short-term to make pre-COVID purses viable. TV ratings have been good–but not great–and we’re still a ways off from any meaningful gate receipts. My expectation is that fights will go on for lower-ranked fighters; some money is better is none and they need to keep fighting to stay sharp and move up the ranks. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the bigger names hold out if their demands can’t be met. They can afford to wait and the potential risk of losing a low-money bout might simply be too high.

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