Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. prove boxing’s business model is broken and in serious trouble

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: Terence Crawford attends fight night between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Richard Commey for the WBO Intercontinental Lightweight Championship at Madison Square Garden on December 11, 2021 in New York City.  (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Terence Crawford took to social media to explain why he’s fighting David Avanesyan next and not Errol Spence Jr. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

If you’re wondering why boxing is losing ground week by week, month by month, year by year, and sadly, decade by decade, head to Twitter and check out the thread in between Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford from Wednesday.

The two undefeated welterweight champions argued like spoiled children over why they chose not to fight each other.

Yes it was a choice. Crawford and his supporters have accused Spence, and vehemently. Spence’s supporters have just as adamantly blamed Crawford. Of course, instead of arguing about who would win this amazing fight, her fans are arguing about something they have no idea about. They have no idea what the truth of the matter is, they don’t get the business and yet they fill social media with these tirades instead of discussing the actual fight.

In a nutshell, this is boxing in 2022.

Here’s why the fight wasn’t fought: exclusivity and expectations. For years, Crawford was with Top Rank, which has an exclusive television deal with ESPN. Spence is with the Premier Boxing Champions who have their TV deal with Showtime.

Top Rank overpaid Crawford and PBC overpaid Spence. Top Rank lost millions at Crawford to Shawn Porter. It sold a small batch of tickets and tanked on PPV, but Crawford walked away with a cool $6 million.

People thought that once Crawford dropped out of Top Rank it would be easy to take the fight with Spence. But this is where expectations come in. Since both fighters were overpaid, they now find themselves in a situation where they expect to fight each other for an enormous payday that would inflict massive financial losses on whoever funded it.

It ridicules the sport and downright cheap. There is no central authority – let’s say a commissioner – and so boxing has no rules, no sense of sport, no order or fair play. It is every man and woman for himself. Nobody in a position of authority lifts a finger to fix the problem because they can make some money out of it. Some are smarter than others and squeeze a little more out of it, but the business revolves around life support.

An obscenely small number of fighters make the overwhelming majority of money in boxing, while a large number make next to nothing. There is no middle class and therefore there is less and less incentive for athletes to start boxing because the chances that they will make it and make the big bucks are in the the ones against you or me who hit the powerball.

Take, for example, the card in Los Angeles on September 4th, headed by Heavyweights Andy Ruiz and Luis Ortiz. Ruiz made $1 million and Ortiz made $550,000. Of the 16 fighters who competed that night, eight made $5,500 or less. Antonio Lopez and Juan Carlos Lopez each earned $5,500; Anthony Cuba, Oscar Perez, Anthony Garnica, and Jesus Carillo each made $5,000; Matt Gaver and Kel Spencer made $4,000 and Deljerro Revello made $2,000.

After paying off his debts like manager, coach, cutman, license, drug tests, etc., Revello got lucky when he could afford a medium-sized skillet pizza with pepperoni and extra cheese and a two-liter bottle of soda.

There’s no way a boxer can make a living on $2,000 or $4,000 a fight, and who knows how many would-be champions walk away and give up because they have a spouse and child to care for and rent to pay? They are ground up by a system that does nothing to replenish itself.

Meanwhile, Crawford and Spence have ridiculed themselves squabbling over $25 million stock market guarantees, hedge funds, who owns a boss, and other nonsense unrelated to the fighting at all. It just further alienates the sport from its fans, and more importantly, its potential fans.

Boxing has no rules and fewer barriers to entry. Even in the NHL where at one point John A. Spano Jr., who didn’t have nearly as much money required to complete the transaction but was somehow approved for purchase New York Islandersthere are policies and procedures to enforce minimum standards.

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 16: Errol Spence Jr. enters the ring against Yordenis Ugas at AT&T Stadium on April 16, 2022 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Undefeated Errol Spence holds the IBF-WBA-WBC welterweight titles but couldn’t agree to face WBO champion Terence Crawford next. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

As a result of these guidelines, the teams operate under an agreed set of rules and each year each team plays the other in the league and there are playoffs and then a championship final.

None of that applies in boxing. As such, not too many fights are put together due to the exclusive TV deals, lack of overarching authority, and lack of rules regulating how those who find their way.

In boxing, things happen almost every day that would shake the pillars of the great team sports to the core. You can’t imagine the things that happen regularly in boxing happening in the NFL because the NFL has systems in place to prevent that from happening.

The exclusive TV deals are the death of the sport, period. For example, if Showtime and ESPN were open to all promoters and bid on fights they think their audience would love, it would give the sport a huge boost. Exclusivity simply prevents a large number of potentially good fights from happening.

There are three major boxing networks in the United States: ESPN, which has an exclusive contract with Top Rank; Showtime, which does business primarily with PBC; and DAZN, which primarily does business with Matchroom and Golden Boy. There are no viable ways for other promoters to televise their shows. And without TV, they’re dead.

A dispute over which network should televise an interesting fight between Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis has this fight for life support. Showtime has Davis who is with PBC and DAZN has Garcia who is with Golden Boy. The NFL has broadcast deals with CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and Amazon and no game is ever not scheduled or held as a direct result of this, as happens all too often in boxing.

Jimmy Cannon once described boxing as “the sport’s red light district”. But even this grandiose observation does not go far enough, because if you go to any of the places in Nevada where prostitution is legal, you will find many rules and regulations governing the operation of the brothels. boxes? Not as much.

Many fighters have been tricked into believing that broadcasting your fights on pay-per-view will reach the promised land, most notably Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao and a very small handful of others on pay-per-view -fights were successful.

Pay-per-view is too often opposed because no TV network wants to fund and air it. That’s how even a quality fight like the one on November 26 in Carson, California, for the vacant WBC super lightweight title between Regis Prograis and Jose Zepeda ends on pay-per-view.

It sells for a ridiculously high $59.99 and has zero Chance of close to 100,000 sales despite being a fun card from top to bottom. Both Prograis and Zepeda are excellent fighters that are exciting to watch, but neither has a high profile and few will pay $60 to watch.

That Sports of boxing is fantastic and at times awe inspiring when you see the courage, bravery and will of these athletes. But the business of boxing is pathetic. It’s a broken system with too many villains to count and no organization that would help fight the fights the public wants to see.

The public is turning away and the business will continue to shrink because there is nobody who cares enough about the sport and the business as a whole to do anything about it.

The sad reality is that boxing’s downfall is self-inflicted and nobody seems inclined to find a way to solve its many problems.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16: Ryan Garcia prepares for his fight with Javier Fortuna in his locker room on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Sye Williams/Getty Images)

Exclusive network TV deals complicate Ryan Garcia’s (above) fight against Gervonta Davis. (Photo by Sye Williams/Getty Images)

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