Amateurism becoming profitable and annoying?Coming from boxing and a time when amateur boxers at the elite level in the 1990s used to get “sponsorship” money, I have seen both sides of the debate as to whether college athletes should be paid. Back in the aforementioned days of amateur boxing, there was regular money that you would receive for your travels and expenses. Since USA Boxing has sold out to AIBA, that kind of money isn’t going directly into the pockets of the boxers. A top ranked amateur of the 1990s had more spare change in their pockets than today’s Olympic boxer. When it comes to amateur MMA, the fighters receive “travel” money as part of their usual deal. In recent years it’s gotten out of control for the amateur MMA promoters, in my opinion. Around the start of the decade is when I first spoke to an amateur MMA fighter who, when asked why they didn’t fight on a certain show, responded with “nobody wanted to fight — they asked for too much money.” It’s an answer that raises eyebrows since they are indeed “amateurs.” In recent shows since that time I have seen a fighter, who was arrested during their stay in the city where the event took place, still have the nerve to approach the promoter that bailed him out to see if he could still get the $100 he was told he’d be getting for his bout. Then at a more recent event, there was yet another encounter I observed and later got details of where a fighter on a card was trying to argue that he was shortchanged and tried to use what was written in a Facebook message but that was not included in the official fight contract. This all leads me to believe that if we do start paying the college athlete, it won’t be long before we get to a point where the athlete forgets that they used to make $0 and start arguing that they are not getting enough. It’s a shameful day when a pro boxer is asked to “pay” for their own bouts at smaller club shows but the amateur fighter leaves with a little money in his pocket. What it also creates is the fighter that never has to turn pro, they can be a local fight star at the local events, do this as a hobby, and leave feeling that they accomplished quite a bit in the combat sports industry without ever really finding out how far they could’ve gone. There were several amateur boxers back in the day that took the route of never turning pro because they made an OK enough income as a “sponsored” amateur.
June fisticuffsJune had a few tune-up fights for the next potential great fight in boxing. On June 9 at a show I covered in Las Vegas, Terrence Crawford made his statement in the welterweight division when he won the the WBO title in shutout fashion to dethrone Australia’s Jeff Horn. The following weekend, Errol Spence Jr. fought in his hometown of Dallas and won by first-round knockout. A Crawford-Spence bout is being built up and those who argue either side make a believable case of who will win and how. Women were featured on Showtime Championship Boxing and another feud battle seems to be set up with Christina Hammer of Germany and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist from Flint, Michigan, Claressa Shields, who won their respective bouts and stirred up some fireworks in a post fight face-off during Shields interview after her win. The Crawford undercard in Vegas also saw Shakur Stevenson demolish his opponent in less than two rounds and Stockton’s Gabriel Flores won a unanimous decision one week after his high school graduation. No stopping for Flores, who fights again July 7 in Fresno.
No undisputed heavyweight champ?June 28 marked the 30 year anniversary of Mike Tyson unifying the heavyweight championship over Michael Spinks. Currently, the two belt holders — Deontay Wilder of Alabama and England’s Anthony Joshua — are in a war of back-and-forth social media banter along with their respective promotional companies. This posturing is likely to continue through this year, and I believe it’s a safe bet that the much-anticipated match will wait until at least 2019.
– Simon Ruvalcaba