What is a.......Purse Bid
Martin Theobald

What is a purse bid? On the face of it, you would think of an eBay auction to purchase women's accessories. However in the world of boxing it becomes more complex....yet is staggeringly simple.

Purse bids are in the news this week because of the high profile heavyweight title fight to take place this autumn between Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury. Fury has become the mandatory challenger to Klitschko for two of the three belts he holds (IBF, WBO & WBA). A champion is allowed a voluntary defence of his belt, whereby he can pick a challenger from within the top 15 contenders in the bodies rankings. Once complete, he is then mandated to fight the highest contender within the bodies rankings. Of course the water becomes a little murky in this case, as Klitschko is the holder of three governing body belts, meaning he has a variety of mandatory and voluntary defences to take (don't think it would be made simple by bodies ranking the same fighters in the same positions!!!).

When a voluntary defence is taken, the champion is able to dictate the terms of the fight - such as location, TV networks (always contentious and often a reason for fights falling through), and the split of the money between the two fighters. The challenger of course has the right to turn down the offer, which will either mean negotiation through to a point of agreement or the champion picking another foe from those lined up.

In Fury's case he has set himself as the mandatory challenger within two bodies and his number has now been picked from the Klitschko raffle. Any fight with big Wlad generates money - originally from the Ukraine (where his brother, former WBC champion, Vitali is now embroiled in the political situation) Wladimir now fits most of his defences from his adopted homeland of Germany (he made a rare trip to America in his last outing to defeat Bryant Jennings). In Germany Wlad often sells out large arenas or football stadiums and has a loyal following.

The Fury and Klitschko camps have been involved in talks for a number of months now to confirm a date, a venue and the split of the revenue. Although Fury's promoter Frank Warren has stated Wembley could potentially hold the showdown of the two six foot nine giants, nothing has yet been agreed upon. The issue the governing body for the fight (in this case the WBA) has is that the defence is due in September of this year. Fury has been vocal on social media about his training camp already having started and being ready for a September date. With no agreement reached, the WBA have ordered the two fighters to go to 'purse bids'.

They two sides still have a couple of weeks before this is enforced, but with talks seemingly not progressing the governing body have laid down the law. So, what is a purse bid?

The process involves one representative (and strictly only one) attending a meeting in a neutral location carrying to the room nothing more than a single envelope. Inside the envelope the representative will have written down their 'bid'. This is a monetary value, and the winner is simply the person who's bid is highest. This could be by a pound, could be by a million pounds. In this blind auction process recently, Eddie Hearn was left looking foolish when he had stated in advance that his Matchroom Promotions stable would secure a world title fight for his fighter James De Gale in London, only to find his million pounds but blown out of the water by Warrior Promotions of the US. Warrior Promotions served as a fascia for US super promoter/advisor Al Haymon.

In the case of Fury and Klitschko the WBA have dictated that unless the two sides reach an agreement, on July 6th both must send their representative to Panama City, Panama, to lay down their highest offer. Irrespective of which side wins, the champion will always be entitled to 80% of the money tabled by the highest bidder (the perks of holding the strap). This fight in the current market would be worth upwards of £3 million, meaning that even is he lost the bid, fury would be walking away with the better part of £500,000 plus.

So who is likely to win? Well, Frank Warren has been vocal in the past about the importance he sees in securing his fighters 'home advantage' in world title fights. However it's been a long time since he has been involved in a fight of this exposure, and it remains to be seen how deep his pockets will stretch. With the subscription TV service he runs, BoxNation, allegedly being heavily subsidised by the money men at Rainham Steel, there is the possibility that they bankroll a large bid to secure the fight, the exposure and presumably a large spike in purchasers of the network. However, they're up against K2 Promotions, owned and run by the Klitschko brothers themselves (and featuring the middleweight wrecking ball Gennady Golovkin). They are likely to bid high to ensure their terms are the ones chosen.

There is a third option here though that has yet to be mentioned, and holds particular pertinence to Wladimir. That option is a Promotional body not involved with either fighter could come and gazump both bids and run their own show with the two pugilists. Sounds unlikely? In 2013 Klitschko went to purse bids with his then mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin. Povetkin was promoted by the Sauerland brothers who bid a respectable $6,014,444 million. They were beaten by K2, who bid $7,130,000 million. They in turn were blown out the water by Russian promoter Vladimir Hryunov who turned up with a bid of $23,333,330 million and subsequently ran the show of two fighters that were not under his promotional control. Of course not ideal them for either fighter that the terms would be dictated to both, however the blow was softened by the monumental pay cheque that met them at the end.

Whether we get to July 6th in deadlock and there is a need for the parties to travel to Panama to reach an agreement remains to be seen. However one thing is for certain - with the Morecambe based heavyweight finally getting his long awaited heavyweight title shot the build up alone for the fight will be more entertaining than a number of Wlad's title defences in recent years.

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