By: Charles Jay
I imagine many of you have Facebook, with a healthy number of boxing friends on your news feed. What I see on mine, constantly, are fighters who can’t come up with enough complaints about promoters. Dirty, greedy people – who needs them, right? They show equal disdain for matchmakers and booking agents. Many of them are out of work, boxing-wise, which might explain some of the vitriol. Yes, their frustration is at times understandable, but the truth of the matter is, not a lot of fighters have made any money at all without someone promoting a fight.
I usually have a very simple answer for them – hey, there’s no law against you guys putting on your own show, or pooling your resources to do so.
There almost was, you know; back when Sen. John McCain was pushing his bill for national regulation of boxing, he had to agree at one point to a compromise with his Democratic counterpart Harry Reid of Nevada, who was being lobbied by promoters within his own jurisdiction who were protecting their own interests. So the idea of fighters being able to being their own promoters was taken off the table (except for those who were grandfathered in).
That particular bill never passed.
As a result, fighters continue to be allowed to both manage themselves and also promote themselves, and those who have reached a sufficient level of success can pull it off. We’ve seen this happening in recent years – Lennox Lewis had Lion Promotions, and of course Floyd Mayweather has his own promotional outfit, although he hired other promoters to do the “nuts and bolts” on the events. Winky Wright, a recent Hall of Fame inductee, ventured into this somewhat less successfully.
Most famously, Oscar De La Hoya, in the process of breaking away from Bob Arum and Top Rank, formed Golden Boy Promotions to create some independence for himself, and while his popularity as an active fighter was essential to leveraging dates out of networks, which was necessary to help the company take off, Golden Boy has certainly survived beyond that and become a full-fledged entity on its own. Mayweather Promotions would like to be able to duplicate that for the long term.
This won’t make me popular in promotional circles, but every fighter of any stature may want to consider such a thing; again, if they have the leverage to make it work. Which brings us to the case of Manny Pacquiao.
Some of you may not be aware of this, but Pacquiao has actually been a “promoter” of sorts for years, and through his company, MP Promotions, he’s had a deal with Top Rank that brought him something in the neighborhood of 27.5% of all revenues from his fights (that includes not only pay-per-view, but also live gate, sponsorship, foreign TV, etc.) and I imagine, this was for the most part against a guarantee. In effect, he was a promotional partner.
That was not really a “risk” situation for him. He brought the “talent” portion, while Top Rank took care of everything that was outside of the ring.
Now it’s a bit different. MP Promotions is the lead promoter for Saturday’s fight with WBA “regular” welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse (39-4, 36 KO’s) that is taking place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And there’s a little more risk involved, as in risk that the fight would fall out unless Pacquiao’s company was able to guarantee the $3 million that was to go to Matthysse and his promoter, Golden Boy, and put it in escrow. Reportedly that led to some anxious moments, although the Pacquiao camp expresses that it was never any problem.
This kind of arrangement came about because of a dispute about Pacquaio’s contract with Top Rank. PacMan announced in March that the paper had expired. As his attorney explained it, the fight with Jeff Horn in Australia was the last one in the deal. Bob Arum maintained otherwise. And this came in the aftermath of an offer made by Arum for Pacquiao to fight Mike Alvarado on the undercard of Horn’s fight with Terrence Crawford, which he considered an “insult.”
There was a little mud-slinging from one of Pacquiao’s publicists, Aquiles Zonio, who said that Arum was trying to disrupt the fight by planting seeds of doubt with the Malaysian interests who had put the money together, and that in the past, knowing that Pacquiao had irreconcilable problems with the IRS, he had “sabotaged” efforts to fight outside the States.
So as you can see, there’s some bad blood circulating.
But not enough to prevent business from forging ahead.
You see, like some of the other fighters who wanted to turn into promoters, and who may have become do-it-yourselfers only to facilitate their own fights and nothing else, Pacquiao realizes that he doesn’t really have the infrastructure to carry off a first-class promotion from Point A to Point Z.
So while we’re not sure what the whole contract status really is, Top Rank is still around.
According to Arum, his company is there to “handle the logistics (through my old USA Network colleague, Brad Jacobs), handle the undercard and handle the television,” which means they’re handling an awful lot. He wasn’t going to make a move, however, until Pacquiao got his money in place, and everybody tells me he wouldn’t have been too upset if that hadn’t happened, since he would have liked to put together Matthysse with Crawford.
And so we move forward. Pacquiao has the fight being simulcast on all three major TV networks in the Philippines, ensuring maximum visibility. And in the U.S., Arum has placed it on ESPN Plus, where he gets $2 million a show. Sales for that app are said to be slow, so we’re not really sure how many viewers they’re actually going to have.
This is not PPV-dependent, and Pacquiao, who is said to have pocketed $160 million for his fight with Floyd Mayweather, will probably get in the neighborhood of $10 million for this. But then again, he’s the promoter, right? So he could also make more on the “upside.” And he’ll be without Freddie Roach for the first time in a while, as Buboy Fernandez took over the camp.
If Manny wins, there is almost no doubt that he’ll continue to fight. And if he does, we wonder if these little battles with Top Rank will continue to take place.
QUICK NEWS AND NOTES: Speaking of fighters who became promoters, here’s one who DOES handle the whole show, all the way down to the details – Steve Forbes, the former IBF junior lightweight champion, has announced that he is back in Portland with his company, 2Pound Sports & Entertainment, as they will do their second show at the Jackson Armory. The maiden voyage in December combined amateur and pro bouts. Forbes won his title in 2000 over John Brown and lost consecutive decisions to Oscar De La Hoya and Andre Berto back in 2008………………
Jermaine Franklin (16-0, 13 KO’s), the 2014 National Golden Gloves super heavyweight champion, will try to stay unbeaten on Friday night at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit as he faces local guy Craig Lewis (14-2-1, 8 KOs) in a ten-rounder. “He keeps getting better and better and better,” says promoter Mike Acri of Franklin, who is from Saginaw, MI and recorded two amateur wins over Cam F. Awesome, who won the trials for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team…………….
ONE Championship, which regularly engages in MMA, kickboxing and Muay Thai competitions and is a huge success in the Asian TV market, has announced that it is entering the boxing arena, and they have pulled off a major coup by inking a deal with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the WBC super flyweight (115-lb.) champion, who has two significant wins over Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, which puts him on many of the top ten “pound for pound” lists. Pacquiao bought a stake in the company back in 2014.