Is money killing boxing?

Is money killing boxing?

Image of red boxing gloves. Credit: Monticello/

As we see more and more boxing negotiations fall through and fighters demanding astronomical amounts of money, will fans get to see the fights they deserve?

With a number of big generation-defining fights currently failing to be made, often due to money, who is to blame for boxing’s missed opportunities? We ask if the problem can be fixed, with a fight between Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk that was supposed to take place yesterday, April 29, having fallen through at the negotiation stages.

The Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk, having already unified the Cruiserweight division and historically one of only nine men to hold all four major belts in their divisions, stepped up to Heavyweight. Having methodically and humbly worked his way into belt contention in his new weight class, he took three of the four heavyweight belts (WBA, WBO, IBF) from Anthony Joshua.

With Tyson Fury, having returned from a prolonged hiatus due to mental health issues and taken the WBC belt from Deontay Wilder, the stage looked set for an enormous unification bout.

But when it came to the negotiation stages, Fury’s starting position saw him demanding 70 per cent of the fight purse, while only holding 25 per cent of the belts required for a unification. Some saw this as Fury attempting to avoid the highly skilled tactician Usyk.

Having said in the past that he would fight for free against Anthony Joshua (another fight that never got made), this seemed an unusual move. But Usyk called his bluff and agreed to the terms. With this, Fury’s team was seen to make further demands and the negotiations eventually fell apart.

Fury has in the past accused the likes of Anthony Joshua of avoiding him (hence his offer to fight for free), but with all these deals taking place behind closed doors, often the truth of the matter is rather opaque. In the macho world of prize-fighting the posturing and bravado is part of the package.

Fighters like to talk about legacy, but with fighters like Fury earning around $25 million dollars per fight or more, it is easy to see how they can become distracted from behaving in a more sportsman-like manner.

It leaves fans, whose pay-per-view money contributes to these boxers’ earnings, wondering why so many of the generation-defining super-fights never happen.

There are in fact many different negotiations to be had when it comes to putting on a big fight including fighter splits, TV rights and location. With so many factors in place, it becomes more clear why negotiations might fall down.

Former two-weight world Champion and now boxing pundit, Carl Frampton, has blamed promoters. He was reported by the BBC as saying: “Promoters are probably the main reason fights aren’t really happening. It’s all a bit of a mess. They need to have a relationship with each other.”

Though others would argue that it is in the promoters’ interest to make these fights happen as their split depends on deals being made.

With Matchroom boxing promoter Eddie Hearn still hoping to see Fury vs Usyk go ahead in December, we can still hold some hope for a unified heavyweight champion.

Sky Sports News, talking to Anthony Joshua, reported on Twitter:

“If rumours are circulating there might be some truth behind it.  Anthony Joshua welcomes a potential blockbuster battle against Deontay Wilder, with reports even suggesting that Tyson Fury could even face Oleksandr Usyk on the same night in December”.

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Written by

David Laycock

Dave Laycock has always written. Poems, songs, essays, academic papers as well as newspaper articles; the written word has always held a great fascination for him and he is never happier than when being creative. From a musical background, Dave has travelled the world performing and also examining for a British music exam board. He also writes, produces and performs and records music. All this aside, he is currently fully focussed on his journalism and can’t wait to share more stories from around the world and beyond.