ERROL SPENCE JNR and Terence Crawford embarked on a couple of press conferences to promote their superfight later this year, fielding questions from the press and getting another opportunity to size each other up in person. There was some trash talk between the two but, by and large, what came across was a lot of mutual respect and anticipation of what is surely the biggest fight of both their careers.
It was Spence who pulled out the biggest surprise during these media obligations, though, when he expressed his anger over constantly having to pay sanctioning fees to the various sanctioning bodies whose titles he holds, without knowing what that money is used for.
“We give three per cent to these organisations,” he said to the gathered media.
“I mean, we gotta know where this money [is] going to. You’ve got Canelo [Alvarez] and [Anthony] Joshua and all these guys, making $50 million dollars [per fight] and these belts getting three per cent of that. Where’s it going? How is it helping the fighters out? What are they doing with it?”
As the owner of three baubles, Spence will pay nine per cent of his purse from the Crawford fight to the IBF, WBA and WBC collectively. And he is absolutely right to take umbrage with that.
The Boxing News stance on these ‘world’ titles has been clear for a while, so there’s no need to go over that again here. But what is important about this situation is a fighter of Spence’s standing choosing to highlight the limitations of these sanctioning bodies. Each of these four organisations uses sanctioning fees to cover operating costs as well as contributing to charitable endeavours such as helping fighters and former who are struggling financially.
The problem, as Spence stated, is that there is no transparency over how much money is used by these organisations to help fighters. For the biggest fights, with multi-million dollar purses, the sanctioning bodies are raking in serious cash simply for having their title on the line. And that’s not to mention the countless fights that happen week in, week out with their spurious ‘international’ and ‘interim’ belts involved, all of which will also come with sanctioning fees.
It’s a racket. And Spence is asking the right question: what’s in this for me? Why should a fighter sacrifice any portion of their purse just for the right to say they are ‘world’ champion?
By raising this issue at these press conferences, Spence is giving this issue the attention it deserves. When joining the media for huddles, he was asked again by reporters to expand on his comments and others involved in the fight, such as Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza, were also queried on their views surrounding these sanctioning fees.
For what it’s worth, Espinoza agrees with Spence and said that it is well worth asking these questions and finding out exactly what is done with this money.
In an ideal world, the winner of Spence-Crawford would refuse to pose with the belts, sling them in the bin and say “I am number one – no one can dispute that – and I don’t need these belts to prove that.” The sooner the sanctioning bodies become completely obsolete, the better.
There was another interesting tidbit from Espinoza’s conversation with a media scrum when he was asked why he is so “transparent” with the media. In reality, of course, there is a lot that Espinoza keeps from the press and rightly so. But, as network executives go, Espinoza is notably accessible and doesn’t shy away from an interview.
There is one area he purposely keeps quiet about, though: the details of negotiations. As he put it: “The more you see people talking about negotiating, the less negotiating there actually is [going on].”
That’s a sentiment that a lot of fans would do well to keep in mind when promoters and fighters jump on social media and start talking about percentages and making deals. That is not where agreements are made: negotiations are properly hashed out in person inside hotel suites and meeting rooms.
That ties in nicely to an entertaining YouTube video that was uploaded by Propa Boxing this past week that focused on Tyson Fury’s current standing with the public. The argument made in the video is that Fury – once on top of the world after his trilogy with Deontay Wilder – now finds himself with a lot of detractors because he keeps going back on his word.
There’s not enough room in this column to list all the different promises Fury has made even in just the last year, but the biggest disappointments for fans are the fact he has not fought and does not look close to fighting either Oleksandr Usyk or Joshua, despite repeatedly talking about his intention to face both.
Fury is an exceptional fighter with an incredible story and bags of charisma. But he’s currently torpedoing his own reputation. While he still has plenty of fans, as the video from Propa Boxing highlights, he is also losing swathes of them the longer he goes without fighting Usyk or Joshua while talking about fighting the likes of UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Something that hasn’t garnered as much media attention as it maybe should have is the recent activity of promotional outfit Skill Challenge Promotions. The Saudi Arabian company clearly has deep pockets and has recently picked up Usyk and Wilder. According to ProBox TV, they are also close to signing Devin Haney.
They’re amassing quite the stable but there is very little information about the organisation. It’s far too early to get a proper read on how Skill Challenge will impact the sport, if at all, but with the money available in that part of the world some serious moves could be made. Well worth keeping an eye on.
Edgar Berlanga-Jason Quigley
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