How Boxers Can Get Goosed When They Duck

How Boxers Can Get Goosed When They Duck

A Look at the Potential Contractual Implications of Refusing Bouts

One professional boxer accusing another of ducking him in order to drum up interest in a potential bout is almost as old as the sport itself. While some may argue that certain ducking accusations in recent times were legitimate, like those lodged both against and by Floyd (Money) Mayweather, Jr. during the ultimately unsuccessful multi-year effort to make a super-fight with Manny Pacquiao, while others are seemingly improbable, such as “Fast” Fres Oquendo’s recent claims of being ducked by Wladimir Klitschko, most such claims constitute little more than empty banter with little risk of adverse fallout.  However, when the claim of ducking a specific opponent or a certain level of opposition is made behind the scenes by a boxer’s manager or promoter, the potential fallout can be significant. A quick look at a few potential scenarios that may arise when such claims are made follows.


Minimization of the Bout Minimum

It is commonplace for promoters and managers to commit themselves to securing a minimum number of contests for a boxer during a given contract year. Also commonplace is the reservation by a promoter or manager of the right to count a bout rejected by the boxer against the total number of bouts the boxer was guaranteed for a given contract year.  Many times, a boxer will have a “reasonable” right to turn down a particular bout or opponent without having it counted against the total number of bouts he is guaranteed for a year, for example if it is not scheduled far enough in advance.  But if a boxer turns down a reasonable, bona fide offer for a bout for no legitimate reason, he may find himself wondering at year’s end why he was guaranteed five fights for the year, but only actually participated in two.  Indeed, it is the stuff management and promotional contract disputes are made of.  A boxer needs to think twice, however, about seeking to get out of an agreement after a year in which he was given less than his guaranteed minimum number of bout if his manager or promoter can readily turn around and document a series of rejections.


A Spot on the Shelf

Relatedly, if a boxer is routinely turning down offers to fight, and those offers count against the total amount of bouts guaranteed for the year, he may find himself on the shelf rather than in the ring for a given contract year.  Indeed, professional boxing has no shortage of fighters looking for a pay day if one boxer or another turns down a bout for no legitimate reason. This does not mean that a boxer should take fights that are not in his best interest or are otherwise not being offered at the right time. Such offers are an everyday occurrence in boxing. It just means that he needs to be ready to explain to his manager or promoter why he does not think a particular bout is right.  The prospect of being shelved can, in part, be staved off in the negotiation stage with a manager or promoter, where the projected career path can be discussed and demands can be adjusted to reflect the intentions of all parties involved.  


Undesired Free Agency

Whether by an express clause or an implied contractual provision of good faith, a boxer could find his management or promotional agreement terminated if his rejection of bouts ultimately makes him a liability, a detriment to business interests, or otherwise unworthy of any further effort.  While a boxer may intentionally try to do things to make certain managers or promoters release him because of other issues, a boxer should not covet a reputation for being a pain in the hind-parts.  A perceived victory over a manager or promoter one day that was achieved by being a hard case with them when it came to accepting bouts can turn into a very real defeat if they cannot obtain a worthy replacement for either once their reputation for difficulty makes its rounds.

In the final analysis, whether or not a boxer accepts or rejects a certain bout should ideally be based upon a well-reasoned and honest decision about whether the boxer thinks he is ready and the situation is appropriate when a given bout is offered.  It is a decision that he ultimately may have to live with for a while until the next opportunity arises.  If he and/or his management are unable to articulate a good reason for the rejection of a bout, perhaps the boxer has to ask himself whether he really wants to have such a physically taxing sport as a source of income.

Originally published on 8 Count in March 2013.

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