Body by Arreola?

Body by Arreola?

Could Cris Arreola’s Renewed Commitment to Fitness Inspire Weight Loss Incentives in the Management and Promotional Agreements of Boxers with Issues at the Scale?

Judging by his fighting spirit, no one could ever accuse heavyweight contender Cris (The Nightmare) Arreola of being a “Big Baby,” even after the now-notorious shows of emotion following both his wins and his losses. But perhaps the recent buzz Arreola has had after shedding over 20 pounds and dismissing two opponents in rapid succession may inspire managers and promoters to take a page out of the Boston Celtics’ contract with Glen (Big Baby) Davis and give certain boxers contractual incentives to lose weight. In 2009, Davis signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Boston Celtics of which $5 million was guaranteed, and another $500,000 a season was to be earned if he avoided exceeding a certain weight. Similar contracts were entered into by Derrick Caracter of the Los Angeles Lakers and former Sacramento Kings forward Sean May in recent years. Is such a provision appropriate in professional boxing? A quick analysis of this question follows.


Could a Weight Loss Provision be Used Effectively?

What if, for example, James (Buster) Douglas’ management and/or promotional team had the foresight to amend their agreements with Douglas after the Mike Tyson fight to state that Douglas would be paid $500,000 extra for his bout with Evander Holyfield, and every other title defense going forward, if he weighed in at no more than 231 ½ pounds, his weight for the historic Tyson knockout? Would that have provided the extra focus that Douglas needed amongst a world of distractions to give himself a real chance to defeat Holyfield? The world will never know. But in a sport where every big paycheck could be your last depending on the outcome, a weight loss provision and the extra money (and ideally the positive results) it could generate could certainly be an effective stimulus for the right boxer.

However, could a weight-loss provision also be a dangerous incentive, depending on the boxer and/or the amount of time he has to lose weight? What if, for example, former heavyweight champion Riddick (Big Daddy) Bowe did not shed nearly 20 pounds before his December 14, 1996 rematch with Andrew Golota on his own accord, but rather was guaranteed $500,000 more if he weighed in at 235 pounds, as he did? Despite how fit Bowe appeared to be, Golota went to work on him in their rematch until getting himself disqualified again for low blows. Some boxing cognoscenti opined that Bowe’s impressive, but perhaps excessive, weight loss beforehand might have been a contributing factor to his subpar performance. In that instance, perhaps Bowe’s management or promotional team would be hard pressed to ever employ such language in an agreement with Bowe or others like him ever again. The lesson from this example is that you have to know the boxer and his realistic physical capabilities before even considering putting such an incentive in an agreement with him.


Could or Should Such a Provision be Used Below the Heavyweight Division?

Notice that the boxers used in the above hypotheticals, as well as the inspiration for this article, are all heavyweights despite the well-publicized failures at the scales of lighter weight boxers such as Jose Luis Castillo and Joan Guzman in recent years. That is intentional, as boxing, more so than many other sports, requires that its athletes keep their weights under control in advance of their matches. By contrast, while American tennis player Mardy Fish, for example, might have improved his conditioning and thus his world ranking in 2010 by shedding 30 pounds, Fish could have theoretically came to each tournament pudgy and still been allowed to compete as long he was winning enough matches to qualify. In boxing, however, it is fundamental to the career of every boxer below the heavyweight division that they weigh what they are supposed to by the weigh-in for their next fight. Why then should someone such as Castillo or Guzman be contractually rewarded for doing something that they must do to fulfill their contractual obligation for a given fight in the first instance? In short, they should not, as it is unquestionable that such a contractual incentive, if it were to be used at all in boxing, should not be used in any division other than heavyweight, where competitors need not cut weight, but may serve themselves, and thus their management and promotional teams, better if they do.


Non-Monetary Contractual Incentives to Get Boxers to Stay in Shape

So are there non-monetary incentive based ways for managers and promoters to encourage their non-heavyweight boxers to dutifully cut weight? It is not uncommon to see contractual provisions which reflect that if the boxer is unable to perform because of something of his own doing either the agreement could be terminated or the bout for which he could not contractually perform, due to weight or other issues, would still count toward the total number of bouts guaranteed under the terms of the agreement for the year. Where a monetary incentive would be a carrot, these types of provisions would serve more as sticks. It is these types of provisions that should be placed in agreements with boxers such as Castillo or Guzman to put that extra bug in their butts to either make weight bout after bout or timely communicate that they will not be able to make the weight before a given bout.

Arreola may be the new poster child for fitness in the heavyweight division, but can his drive be replicated by your boxer simply by providing him with contractual incentives? For the right boxer, there is no doubt that it can be. But for those who are content to go into their bouts a little doughier than they should be no matter what is on the table, at least their managers or promoters could be at peace with themselves knowing they went the extra step to get the most out of their boxer.

Originally published on 8 Count on June 2, 2011.

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