Bunce on Boxing: Real fights and unreal sums promise vintage end to year
It is a refreshingly open mercenary exercise for all involved in the fight
Monday 02 September 2013
It will start with a dance, could end in tears and in the middle a dozen men will win and lose major fights as they share a record haul of cash in boxing rings during the next three months. As Carl Froch dances his way across our screens each Saturday during the next few weeks on ITV’s Stepping Out, some lucrative fights will take place both here and in America as 2013 continues to develop into one of the sport’s finest years. It has also been a year devoid of anything memorable in a heavyweight championship fight, which is thankfully set to change.
In 2007, Floyd Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya set new boxing records for making money and generating money when their fight sold 2.5 million pay-per- view units, which came to $134m. De La Hoya made $50m, Mayweather made his name and on 14 September the pair are back in action hoping to smash their previous record.
This time De La Hoya is the promoter, Mayweather the main attraction and an unbeaten Mexican called Saul Alvarez, as the unbeaten young opponent, might just deliver the elusive alchemy to set cash records. There is also a chance that Alvarez, who is bigger, younger and unbeaten in 43 fights, might deliver a shock and end Mayweather’s unbeaten sequence at 44. Mayweather will guarantee himself more than $30m once again and the figure could double if the pay-per-view sales continue.
A week later, on 21 September, boxing returns to an Olympic venue when the Copper Box hosts two young fighters in a rare clash of unbeaten boxers in a British title fight. Billy Joe Saunders, 24, unbeaten in 18, is defending his middleweight title against John Ryder, 25, unbeaten in 15 and fighting just a couple of miles from his house.
Hopefully, Saunders and Ryder is just the start of a long overdue series of fights between unbeaten and often protected boxers; there are more unbeaten boxers with eight or more wins in Britain now than at any point in history and they need to start fighting each other. It is possible that the heavyweight fight a week later on 28 September in Manchester, when David Haye and Tyson Fury really fight will mean they split more money than any two British boxers have ever shared in a British ring.
The feisty pair will fight for pride and the complicated division of about five million quid in a fight that nobody in the boxing business ever thought would happen; nobody had even thought of it until about four months ago.
It is a refreshingly open mercenary exercise for all involved and any suggestion that anything other than cash is the motivation is utter drivel. It will also be a stunning night and fight, even if it ends quickly.
The following Saturday, a trio of Olympic super-heavyweight champions fight when 2012 hero Anthony Joshua ends his exile in a debut at London’s 02 and, in Moscow, the 1996 gold medallist Wladimir Klitschko and 2004 champion Alexander Povetkin finally meet in the ring.
Joshua will, quite correctly, not break a sweat but Povetkin and Klitschko will need to fight to earn their share of more than $23.3m, which will be split 75-25 in Klitschko’s favour. It is arguably the highest guaranteed purse bid for a heavyweight title fight since casino maverick Steve Wynn lost a fortune when he paid $32.1m for Buster Douglas against Evander Holyfield in 1990 at the Mirage.
Before the end of the year there will be world title defences for new champions Jamie McDonnell and Darren Barker; meanwhile Dereck Chisora, Kell Brook, Tony Bellew and James DeGale will get close to world title fights during four months that will shape the entire calendar for 2014.
However, the recycling of fallen idols Nathan Cleverly and David Price is unlikely to be kind because in the busy modern market there is far less dependence on beaten fighters coming back than there has been for decades. Boxing is a ruthless business and this year has been brutal for losers.
Froch, once he is free of the sequin commitments, will defend his super-middleweight world titles against George Groves, another unbeaten, young British fighter, on 23 November in Manchester. It’s a glorious few months.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
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