The financial punch of delaying fights
February 29, 2012
Larry Pugmire of the LA Times reported on the financial impact of delaying boxing matches due to injury. Its an interesting article that shows the differences between MMA and boxing when faced with injuries.
As most know, 2011 was a year wrought with injuries for the UFC. Zuffa had to shuffle around PPV lineups and make accommodations for fighters. Already this year, Mark Munoz had to pull out of his network televised co-main event against Chael Sonnen.
The LA Times article looks at the millions that are lost when the main event of a boxing card is scratched due to injury. Most of the time, even if the other boxer can go, the fight is scrapped altogether instead of finding a replacement fighter.
One of the more egregious examples of losing money due to a late scratch was promoter Gary Shaw, who purchased a Ferrari with the site fee advance for the Lennox Lewis-Kirk Johnson fight in 2003. When an injury postponed the fight, an alternative fee structure was offered.
Via LA Times:
Tim Leiweke, president of AEG and Staples Center, then scratched the $3.4-million site-fee payment to Shaw and offered a new deal in which the promoter would collect money based only on how many fight tickets could be sold for a different Lewis matchup.
The most recent example is the anticipated Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto fight which was postponed earlier in February due to an injury to Berto. The rematch has tentatively been pushed to June.
A repercussion of the postponement of a fight to a later date is the depletion of live gate due to the fact that fans that planned to attend the original date cannot make it to the rescheduled date. Pugmire’s piece points to the Andre Ward-Carl Froch fight which was postponed due to injury. Many British Fans of Froch could not make the rescheduled date in Atlantic City.
The article also states that delaying a PPV is a headache since a new date has to be approved by satellite and cable providers. This also has to be coordinated with the site of the fight. The trickle down effect continues as fighters on the undercard must agree to the new date to keep the card together. This can place a huge burden on undercard fighters who don’t make a lot as it is.
Even if a main event is scrapped in the UFC, Dana White will find someone to replace the injured fighter and make sure that everyone agrees to the new fight. Also, ample time is given to hype most of the main card of the PPV. The UFC did cancel its Montreal PPV far in advance to ensure that it could bring the city a quality night of fights. As most of us know, big boxing PPVs are based solely on the main event matchup and rarely is the undercard hyped. As outlined in the article, a delay of a boxing card is a financial burden for the promoters, their staff and fight camps.
The huge fees to hold the cards and the reliance solely on one fight are big issues promoters will need to address if boxing is to turn itself around. As for the UFC, it may be unfair to compare the two business models considering the amount of control Zuffa has with its fighters. If you are not at the top of the card, you may not have a say as to who or when you will fight next. One need only look at Frankie Edgar as a fighter that may be directed into his next fight.