Heavyweight Boxing – Why Are The Big Fights Not Happening?

Big heavyweight fights have always captivated the imagination of boxing enthusiasts. Whether it be Ali vs. Frazier or Foreman vs. Norton, there was always a huge spectacle. However, in recent times, the realization of these fights seem to be hindered by various factors such as the allure of Saudi money, unrealistic figures, and the pursuit of giant paydays rather than focusing on the sport itself. 

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has emerged as a prominent player in hosting significant sporting events, including heavyweight boxing matches. The vast amounts of money being poured into these events can be enticing, as many of the top heavyweights are holding out for big paydays.

For instance, Deontay Wilder, a prominent name in the division, fought only one round in a year, stopping Robert Helenius, on October 15th, 2022. Meanwhile, Andy Ruiz Jr, following his stunning upset victory against Anthony Joshua, failed to capitalize on the momentum, leaving fans wondering why he was not actively involved in high-profile fights. His last fight was a win over an aging Luis Ortiz in 2022 which he won via a unanimous decision. However, since then, negotiations for a WBC title eliminator with Wilder failed. Disagreements over purse splits could not be resolved, as Ruiz demanded 50-50 ($25 million), as opposed to the 70-30 that was offered.

Even fighters like Anthony Joshua, who faced lesser-known opponents like Kubrat Pulev and Alexander Povetkin, were criticized for not pursuing more competitive challenges like Wilder for the undisputed championship. His last fight was a win over his former sparring partner, Robert Helenius, as fights with Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder were never agreed. As for Fury, an undisputed fight with Oleksandr Usyk could not be made despite the latter accepting a 70-30 split. Meanwhile, he chose to face Francis Ngannou who has never boxed before in a lucrative bout instead that is allegedly worth $50 million. Although Saudi Arabia has teased a four-man heavyweight tournament for this December 2023, which is worth a reported $300 million, no fights have actually been signed.

It is undeniable that the heavyweight fighters of the past, such as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, and Ken Norton, were not paid nearly as much as their modern counterparts. Despite this, they still fought each other because they were more concerned about the competition than their payday. Boxing’s first real Pay Per View attraction, Mike Tyson, earned his paycheck based on the revenue his fights generated rather than the big guaranteed upfront paydays, which many of today’s fighters receive.This is a major factor as to why competitive fights between the top boxers in the heavyweight division are not being made.

The focus on generating massive paydays today often leads to fighters demanding astronomical sums of money that may not be sustainable or justifiable. And that is something that must change in order for fans to get the competitive fights of yesteryear.

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