So You Want to Be A Match Maker?
By Charles Jay
Anyone familiar with me knows that I make odds on just about everything, and one of those things is boxing, including a lot of the lesser-profile fights that are on the agenda.
Sometimes I haven’t seen one or both of the fighters in the matchup – and even when I have, I don’t mind getting another opinion.
But it’s got to be an educated opinion.
So where do I go for the MOST educated opinion? Not to promoters. Not to writers or broadcasters who cover the game. Not even to fighters.
Not that those people don’t know boxing. But I go to a different group to get more of an insider’s view. You don’t often see them on TV or read quotes from them in the newspapers, but there is no doubt in my mind that the people who know more about fighters than anyone in this business are MATCHMAKERS.
Almost exclusively, I seek out the opinion of a matchmaker if I REALLY want to know about a fighter. That’s because, more than any other people in this business, their livelihood depends on their ability to project what one fighter will do in the ring against another, day in and day out. If they make a mistake, it could severely damage a fighter’s career, and too many mistakes will certainly bring a premature end to their own. With all due respect to those guys who pick fights “for fun and entertainment”, matchmakers are playing the game for keeps.
Their input is invaluable from a handicapping standpoint because in the process of doing their job, matchmakers are constantly thinking in terms of the percentage chance; the likelihood, of one fighter beating another. And since oddsmaking is essentially based on percentages, the matchmaker is actually THINKING like an oddsmaker, though he may not realize it.
Among other things, the matchmaker does just what the name implies – he puts together matches. The quality of the product the promoter puts out to the public is largely dependent upon the kind of job his matchmaker does. Obviously, anyone can put two fighters into a ring with each other. But the better matchmakers are the ones who have enough skill to be able to strike a delicate balance between attaining a certain level of quality in the show and meeting the larger objectives. It is said that the matchmaker has to find the “right fighters to make the right fights”, a term that is somewhat nebulous and indeed a task that is easier said than done. But his job doesn’t stop there; the matchmaker has to follow up constantly to make sure his matches are solid and secure, and make sure the fighters ultimately get to the fight destination. He must often preside over the weigh-in, act as a liaison of sorts between his employer and the boxing commission, and frequently can be found scurrying around the venue on the night of the show making sure everything proceeds as planned.
There are some matchmakers who are wedded to one promoter in particular – people like Tom Brown at Goosen-Tudor, Bruce Trampler at Top Rank, Carl Moretti of DiBella Entertainment, among others. Promoter Russell Peltz more or less acted for years as his own matchmaker when he put on shows at Philadelphia’s Blue Horizon, but that’s a rarity. Other matchmakers “freelance”, working for various promoters, and for various fees. Most matchmakers can be expected to make anywhere from $1500-$5000 a show. Some get less, for smaller, dark (off-TV) shows. Whatever the paycheck, if you ask the matchmaker, it’s usually never enough.
I used to be a matchmaker myself. In fact, at age 25, I was probably one of the youngest matchmakers in the world at the time. And I was a pretty good one, when I wanted to be. The problem was, I didn’t have the kind of patience necessary to deal with a lot of the things that could go wrong in the process of “making” a card. And believe me, things DO go wrong. When you see a fight card on TV, you’re viewing a finished product. But you have no idea the kind of headaches that have likely gone into polishing off that show.
In the end, my heart wasn’t completely into it. And if you can’t make the total commitment to matchmaking, you most definitely should not be doing it.
What do you need to have? Maybe I’ll tell you a little about it next time.
(Charles Jay proudly contributes to Boxing Insider. And he is proudly NOT a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America)