TRYING to goad an opponent into a winner takes all bet is nothing new. Frequently, the challenge is issued on the spur of the moment when emotions are running high. But apparently in Jake Paul’s case he had meticulously planned his challenge to Tommy Fury.
Paul wisely set up the parameters where his risk was minimal compared to that of Fury. Paul insisted that Fury bet his whole purse on the outcome of the match. If Fury should win, then Paul would double the amount. What was left unsaid was that Paul was guaranteed substantially more money for the fight than Fury was. So even if Paul were to lose and make good on the bet, he would still come out of it being paid more than his opponent. If we are to believe the reported purse split, Paul was only wagering a small percentage on the outcome as opposed to Fury putting his entire wage on the line. In short, Fury would be taking the greater risk in financial terms.
At first, Tommy was reluctant to accept the wager. Wisely he was letting his head rule over his heart, but then his father and trainer, John Fury, interceded and told him to accept Paul’s offer. At that point he shook Paul’s hand. In some courts of law this might have constituted a verbal contract that could hold up the same as a written one, but Paul further tried to solidify what both had outwardly agreed on. He produced a written contract for Fury to sign. Caught off guard once again and without legal counsel available to advise him, Fury did not put pen to paper.
Some say it was strictly a publicity stunt to build interest in the fight. Others might say that Paul was trying to get inside Fury’s head. Whichever way you look at it, Paul was unnecessarily grandstanding. The truth of the matter is that every time a boxer of note enters the ring they are indirectly betting on their career. The result of that match will either help or hurt them financially for their next one. The stakes are so high that they do not need to add a side bet as extra motivation.
Now that the match is over the bet that Paul instigated has resurfaced. John Fury is demanding that the American pay up, that they had a handshake deal. Fury claims that in his world that is how they do business. Your word is your bond and all that. But surely the Furys are not novices when it comes to contracts. Certainly, they must have had their attorneys go over Tommy’s contract for the Paul fight before signing so they could understand and then enforce all the financial parameters.
If the split decision had gone against his son, rather than for him, would John Fury have then advocated for Tommy handing over his entire purse to Paul minus a written agreement?
Even had Tommy Fury signed the contract at the press conference, it might not have held up in a court of law. He could claim he was pressured, coerced, and did not have legal representation.
In virtually every other sport if the competitor bet on the outcome of their event it would result in dire consequences. Baseball legend Pete Rose was permanently banned from baseball and is ineligible for the Hall of Fame because he bet on his own team to win while manager of the Cincinnati Reds. NFL wide receiver Calvin Ridley was recently reinstated after a one -year suspension because he bet on sports in general. But in boxing the fighters can flaunt a bet right in our face and the boxing bodies stand idly by.
The repercussions of a fighter losing his whole purse in a winner take all bet are greater than realised. What about his trainers, manager, and others who have to get paid? What about the government who would want their share in taxes’ being that the money is earned as income?
Fighters, by their nature, rarely turn down a dare because doing so indicates they are scared of their opponent and lack confidence. Any boxer not accepting a challenge (bet) is ridiculed to the point where they are forced to go against their better judgment and agree to something they should not even consider.
Commissions should put a stop to that. They are entrusted with looking after the welfare of the fighter. They can and should come down hard on all gambling wagers proposed between opponents. No pun intended, but don’t bet on that happening.