American professional boxer Chris Algieri turned professional in 2008, and for the better part of the next six years, despite 19 wins in succession without a loss, was one of the thousands of anonymous boxers who was fueled more by a dream than by massive paychecks.
The largest purse Algieri made in his first 19 bouts was $15,000 for a difficult bout on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” against Emmanuel Taylor on Feb. 2, 2014.
Algieri had developed a nice following in the New York metropolitan area and routinely sold out the Paramount Theater when he fought.Given taxes, training expenses and what he needed to pay his team, he barely was above the poverty line.
But 2014 was the year that life changed dramatically for Algieri, a slick boxer who dreams of one day becoming a doctor.The win over Taylor earned him an HBO bout against Ruslan Provodnikov and a career-high purse of $115,000. An upset win there enabled him to hit the jackpot, a $1.67 million purse to fight Manny Pacquiao in Macau on Nov. 23, 2014.
Getting the bout was a win not only for Algieri but for his long-time promoter Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing. Most shows, DeGuardia said, lose money and the majority of the money for a promoter comes when he has a fighter reach the big-time.
“All the money is at the top,” DeGuardia said. “I wouldn’t recommend to anyone to just get into boxing to promote club shows unless you really love it and want to be around it, because there isn’t money in that.”Algieri recently signed a deal to fight the highly regarded Errol Spence Jr. on April 16 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in a Premier Boxing Champions.
Algieri, who declined to tell that his purse for the bout against Spence, said he asked DeGuardia for the disclosure information per The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act that fighters in matches of 10 rounds or more are required to get from their promoters.The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act was signed by former President Bill Clinton and went into law on May 26, 2000.
It has three purposes, according to Section 3 of the law:
• (1) To protect the rights and welfare of professional boxers on an interstate basis by preventing certain exploitive, oppressive, and unethical business practices;
• (2) to assist State boxing commissions in their efforts to provide more effective public oversight of the sport; and
• (3) to promote honorable competition in professional boxing and enhance the overall integrity of the industry.
DeGuardia, Algieri said, declined to give him that information. He’ll eventually get it since it’s required by law, and will likely be delivered on the day before the fight at the weigh-in.
“I’ve been having problems for some time,” Algieri said. “This fight offer that’s come up, I’ve been asking for certain information regarding the terms and conditions of the Spence bout and the bout agreement and [DeGuardia] is not willing to divulge. He’s been willing to do that in the past, in past fights. It kind of raised a red flag for me.
“It’s strange that information I’ve been privy to in the past and that’s going to come out anyway because I’m entitled to it under the Muhammad Ali Act, he’s not giving it to me when I asked for it explicitly.”The Ali Act was designed to provide greater transparency for boxers so they can more fairly negotiate their purses for fights, providing them an insight into the revenues a promoter makes.
According to Section 13, paragraph b, subsection 1 of the act, a promoter must disclose to a fighter “the amounts of any compensation or consideration that a promoter has contracted to receive from such match.”
Subsection 2 requires a promoter to detail for a fighter “all fees, charges, and expenses that will be assessed by or through the promoter on the boxer pertaining to the event, including any portion of the boxer’s purse that the promoter will receive, and training expenses.”
But the act doesn’t specify when promoters are required to make the disclosure. Fighters aren’t in positions of strength when they find out the information after the fact, if they’re given the details at the weigh-in, long after they agreed to terms and gone through a training camp to prepare.
Boxers are not paid unless they step into the ring and fight. All of the work has been completed by the weigh-in but that’s often the first time a boxer will learn of all the revenues a promoter is receiving for a bout.
Algieri said it’s difficult for a boxer who is in what he called “fight mode” to find that information out so late, right before a bout. He made 30 percent of the pot the promoter received for a Dec. 2, 2015, fight with Erick Bone.
“My issue is, is that there is a dollar amount [I’m being paid] and I don’t know where that’s coming from,” Algieri said. “If it works out to be less than 50 percent of the pot or, really, 50-50 isn’t fair. I don’t consider that a fair deal at this point of my career, especially.
“I’ve been on the side of getting 50 percent deals in the past four. And I said to him in the very recent past that I’m not fighting at 50-50 anymore.”
DeGuardia was reticent to discuss Algieri’s complaints because he said he didn’t want to get into a public back-and-forth with his fighter.
He said he’d reached this deal with Algieri for the Spence fight last year. To his recollection, it was in October or November that they came to terms on it.
Algieri for his last three fights was co-promoted by Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions. Pelullo promotes Provodnikov, and he demanded options on Algieri in order to make Provodnikov-Algieri.
Unable to get a high-profile bout on HBO otherwise, Algieri agreed. When he defeated Provodnikov, Pelullo became his co-promoter for bouts against Pacquiao, Amir Khan on May 29, 2015, and Bone.
Algieri told that he took the Bone bout to finish his obligation to Pelullo, and that it was his understanding that from that point forward, all purses were to be negotiated separately between he and DeGuardia.
DeGuardia told that he negotiated the deal as a package and that Algieri had agreed.
“I am in and I intend to continue to be in 100 percent compliance with the Ali Act with every one of my fighters, Chris included,” DeGuardia said. “But in this case, it’s absolutely irrelevant. We negotiated this fight in October or November. I’m not sure exactly when but it was in that time frame. I say it’s irrelevant because we both agreed and came to a deal.”
Lou DiBella promoted the Algieri-Bone bout and will promote the upcoming Spence-Algieri match. He said he made a provision of services agreement with DeGuardia to acquire Algieri for each of the fights, but said DeGuardia is Algieri’s promoter.
DiBella essentially negotiated a deal with DeGuardia for DeGuardia to provide Algieri’s services for a fight card that DiBella was promoting. In addition to money, promoters typically negotiate for hotel rooms and tickets and other such items in these deals. The other promoter, in this case DeGuardia, pays his fighter (in this case Algieri) out of the money he made from the provision of services agreement.
“I have the same kind of provision of services agreement with Joe for these fights as I would do for any other promoter,” DiBella said. “I’m not getting into the middle of this because it’s not my issue. There were no issues or uncertainty. Very simply, Joe got money in a provision of services agreement the way promoters get it all the time.”
A solution to such a dilemma would be for the Ali Act to be amended and clarify when promoters are required to make their disclosure, but there is no momentum in Congress to re-examine the law.Boxing isn’t a high priority in Congress, particularly not in a presidential election year with many other thorny issues.But it’s difficult on fighters like Algieri, who said he feels fighters at his level deserve more than half of the revenue.
“I feel I should be getting considerably more than [50/50],” Algieri said. “I know from other fighters and other managers in the sport, and this is public from articles written, that fighters have gotten as much as 70 to 80 percent. People pay to watch us, as fighters, fight. They don’t pay to watch negotiations, or to see someone promote.”