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Business Before Pugilism

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2014 is off to a rather slow start in boxing (basically taking the next month off as HBO and Showtime go dark in February for whatever reason) but starting in early March, it does pick up steam and builds great momentum toward the summer months. The schedule actually looks pretty enticing should it come to fruition. But first and foremost, boxing is a business (news flash, right?) and before any fights happen, deals have to be struck. Oftentimes, these negotiations are more contentious than what takes place inside the ring.

One of the dominoes fell on Saturday afternoon when Top Rank Promotions announced that Tim Bradley agreed to face Manny Pacquiao on April 12th in a rematch of their highly controversial bout in 2012 (“Desert Storm” was the recipient of what most believed to be a gift split decision). The last remaining hurdle to making this return bout weren’t the financial terms of this bout (Pacquiao is guaranteed $20 million while Bradley gets $6 million) but a contract extension to Bradley’s deal with Top Rank. Bradley was said to be in the last year of his agreement with Bob Arum’s company (which has paid him well over $10 million since inking him to a contact in 2011) and being an ambitious sort, was perhaps itching for a crack at one Floyd Mayweather Jr. down the line.


“Money,” of course, is on the other side of the street at Showtime and aligned closely with Golden Boy Promotions. With boxing’s “Cold War” being what it is, whatever side of the Berlin Wall…uh, fence you’re on determines the realistic possibilities in terms of opponents. During his run with Top Rank, while not a star attraction, Bradley has created a niche as a valuable and lucrative B-side having faced Pacquiao, and Juan Manuel Marquez and earned seven figures for facing Joel Casamayor and Ruslan Provodnikov. If he should down Pacquiao more thoroughly this time, Bradley’s value will increase exponentially and he would be mentioned prominently as a Mayweather foe...but only if he were with Golden Boy.

Top Rank’s greatest fear in this situation was that not only would Bradley beat Pacquiao (therefore ending the “Pac-Man” as a marquee name in the sport) but he would then leave them for their archrival Golden Boy, in essence, not only irrevocably diminishing the Pacquiao brand but going to the other side as a prime opponent for Mayweather (who quite frankly, might already be out of dance partners two fights into his multi-million dollar deal with Showtime/CBS). They could handle Bradley winning; what they couldn’t handle was Bradley winning and having his value upped for the likes of Golden Boy and Mayweather.

So with that, there was a bit of an impasse as Bradley agreed to the fight on April 12th but wasn’t sure if he wanted to be locked into Top Rank past 2014. Well, obviously, it was worth his while to continue under Arum’s banner because he put his name on the dotted line. In this story from Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, http://sports.yahoo.com//pacquiao-vs-bradley-deal, Top Rank President Todd duBoef stated that Bradley “has a long-term relationship with Tim regardless of whether he wins or loses [on April 12th].” According to a source close to Bradley, should he come out victorious, in addition to earning a career-high payday for this rematch with Pacquiao, the HBO and pay-per-view minimums that are part of this new agreement are “incredible.”

Essentially, Bradley and his team eschewed a possible fight with Mayweather for a second go-round with the Filipino icon for more back-end security (in terms of what he gets paid regardless of the result). He’s basically gambling on himself yet at the same time, has an insurance policy. Some fans are howling that Bradley’s best options are at Golden Boy - which has the likes of Danny Garcia, Marcos Maidana, Shawn Porter, Victor Ortiz and Lucas Matthysse among others on their roster - but the reality is if Top Rank is willing to guarantee Bradley more money to face the likes of Marquez and Provodnikov (again) or Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado, he will be satisfied. Yes, boxers care about who they face. They also care just as much (if not more) about how much they get paid.

Bradley may never be a transcendent figure in the sport but he’s certainly a key piece on the chessboard. For Bradley and Top Rank, this deal here was a win-win for everyone involved.

COTTO-MARTINEZ

Miguel Cotto vs. Sergio Martinez image by icheehuahua, MaxBoxing.com
Optical Illusion - Do you see Cotto or Martinez?
Cotto on Left Side -  Martinez on Right Side
by © Chee, MaxBoxing & Doghouse Boxing

This much is clear; Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto will be performing on June 7th at the famed Madison Square Garden as part of the Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend. It’s a tradition that Cotto basically built as he became the most consistent boxing ticket seller in the “World’s Most Famous Arena.” The only question is just who he will face on this date?

Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez is said to be the prime target and depending on whom you ask and at what time, either negotiations are going well or have hit bumps in the road. Martinez understands that Cotto is the A-side in this equation and has agreed to take less money than Cotto (as well as giving Cotto the lucrative Puerto Rican pay-per-view market). But Martinez and his representatives have said from the very beginning that while they understand their value, they will not be insulted during negotiations.

Yes, Martinez needs Cotto as he walks into the sunset of his career with brittle knees. Cotto represents his best possible purse out there (not including Mayweather who has no interest in moving up to middleweight) and it’s against a fighter who would be moving up in weight and perhaps beyond his physical prime. But perhaps Cotto needs Martinez a bit too. After all, he did turn down a date against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, which reportedly came with a 10 million-dollar payday to basically be the main attraction and work with Top Rank and HBO. But you get the sense that Martinez is the only realistic opponent who can truly be part of a pay-per-view card. HBO probably doesn’t want to shell out millions for another Delvin Rodriguez-type opponent. Cotto may never get a chance to ever fight for the middleweight title against a fighter who is as physically vulnerable as Martinez looked last April against Martin Murray. Just how much is that worth to him? Let’s face it; Gennady Golovkin will probably never be on his dance card.

As of this moment, Martinez’s only other option is to take a stay-busy defense in Argentina (something HBO isn’t particularly interested in) and Cotto, while he has a date, doesn’t seem to have many viable options that would resonate to the general public.

It seems like they both need each other. The question is just what are they each willing to concede?

FROCH-GROVES

The IBF ruled on Friday that it is mandating another bout between its super middleweight titlist, Carl Froch and George Groves, who engaged in a memorable battle back in late November in which Froch had to come off the canvas in the first round to eventually halt Groves in the ninth frame. It was a stoppage widely panned as premature from referee Howard Foster (in its press release, the IBF basically threw Foster under the bus for his actions).

What has been interesting is the back-and-forthing in the English press between Froch and Groves as they have made statements regarding negotiations for this rematch. Froch has stated that Groves turned down a seven-figure sum for a return bout (Dailymail.co.uk/Froch-claims-Groves-rejected-7-figure), which was then countered by Groves’ claims (BBC.com/25883588) that “The offer came with many stipulations and options I felt were unsatisfactory.”

The IBF has ruled that this fight must happen within 90 days (of January 24th) and that a purse split of 85/15 in favor of Froch would be set in case of a purse bid. Groves was basically offered a 75/25 split before but more than one boxing insider has said that should Groves get the fight, he’s much better off fighting for the 15 percent and being unhindered in terms of having any rematch clauses or options to promoter Eddie Hearn if he comes out victorious.

But there’s a question as to if there will even be Froch-Groves II now that Froch has made it very clear he has his eyes set on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (who still has business to take care of on March 1st against Bryan Vera) in a summer clash on pay-per-view. Yes, some British boxing fans are screaming bloody murder over this possibility that Groves would be bypassed but from Froch’s perspective, this decision makes all the sense in the world. Not only might the Chavez hook-up represent more money but also at age 36 and noticeably slowing down, Froch may have a much easier time with the slower, plodding Chavez Jr. than the quickness and speed of Groves, who troubled him for much of their first fight.

Froch choosing Chavez Jr. would be the classic case of weighing risk versus reward.

FINAL FLURRIES

OK, it’s time for HBO to make Mikey Garcia vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa and it’s time for Top Rank to start bringing Mikey back out to the West Coast...It’s still going to take a pretty damn good fighter to defeat Lamont Peterson...No word yet on the future plans of Ruslan Provodnikov but Top Rank has till mid-April to enforce its one-fight option on him that was part of the agreement for the Mike Alvarado fight...Was that some explosive stuff on Friday night on NBC Sports Network, ESPN2 and FoxSports1 or what? None of the main events went past the second round and guess what? I don’t think anyone cared...Antonio Orozco got his first bit of real professional adversity against Miguel Huerta but he showed something in how he bounced back...March 15th could see Danny Garcia defend his 140-pound titles against Mauricio Herrera in Puerto Rico. Top Rank had been planning to do a UniMas show featuring Felix Verdejo on this same date...Looks like heavyweight Deontay Wilder will face Malik Scott on that Garcia-Herrera undercard...“Real Sports” has a new set but it’s the same high-quality show on HBO...Sorry but I just couldn’t get into “True Detective”...I did Bikram Yoga for the first time last week and I have to say, good grief; it was everything everyone told me it would be. It was torture but I’ll keep doing it once a week…


I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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