Why commissions should stop boxers from betting on the outcome of their fight with their opponents

TRYING to encourage a competitor to win all bets is nothing new. Often, the challenge comes at a time when emotions are running high. But apparently, in the case of Jake Paul, he had carefully planned his challenge to Tommy Fury.

Paul wisely set the parameters where his risk was minimal compared to Fury’s. Paul claimed Fury bet his entire wallet on the outcome of the game. If Fury wins, Paul will double that amount. What was not said was that Paul was guaranteed significantly more money for the fight than Fury. So even if Paul were to lose and call the bet, he would still come away with more pay than his opponent. If the reported purse split is to be believed, Paul was only betting a small percentage on the outcome, unlike Fury, who put his entire salary on the line. In short, Fury would be taking a bigger risk financially.

At first, Tommy was reluctant to accept the bet. Wisely, he let his head rule his heart, but then his father and trainer, John Fury, interceded and told him to accept Paul’s offer. At that moment he shook Paul’s hand. In some jurisdictions it may have been an oral contract that could be the same as a written one, but Paul later tried to reinforce what both had outwardly agreed upon. He signed a written contract for Fury. Again, careless and without legal counsel to advise him, Fury did not put pen to paper.

Some say it was purely a publicity stunt to drum up interest in the fight. Others might say that Paul was trying to get inside Fury’s head. Either way you look at it, Paul was unnecessarily big. The thing is, every time a famous boxer steps into the ring, they are implicitly betting on their career. The outcome of that match will either help or hurt them financially for the next match. The stakes are so high that they don’t need to add a side bet as extra motivation.

Now that the game is over, Paul’s instigated bet has reappeared. John Fury demands from the Americans to pay that they signed a handshake deal. Fury claims that this is how business is done in his world. Your word is your bond and all that. But the Furies are certainly no novices when it comes to contracts. Surely they should have had their lawyers check Tommy’s contract for the Paul fight before signing so they understood and then applied all the financial parameters.

If the split decision had gone against his son instead of for him, would John Fury have advocated for Tommy to hand over his entire wallet to Paul without written consent?

Even if Tommy Fury signed the contract at a press conference, it might not hold up in court. He could claim that he was pressured, coerced and had no legal representation.

In almost every other sport, if a competitor were to bet on the outcome of their event, there would be dire consequences. Baseball legend Pete Rose has been permanently banned from baseball and is ineligible for the Hall of Fame because he bet on his team winning while managing the Cincinnati Reds. NFL wide receiver Calvin Ridley was recently reinstated after a one-year suspension for betting on sports in general. But in boxing, fighters can bet right to our face, and boxing bodies stand idly by.

The ramifications of a fighter losing their entire purse in the event of a winner are greater than one might realize. What about his coaches, manager and others who need to be paid? How about a government that would like its share in taxes to be collected as revenue?

Fighters by nature rarely reject a dare because it shows they fear their opponent and lack confidence. Any boxer who doesn’t accept the challenge (bet) is ridiculed to the point where they are forced to go against their better judgment and agree to something they shouldn’t even consider.

Commissions must put an end to this. They are entrusted to fight for the welfare of the warrior. They can and should strictly discount all gambling bets offered between opponents. No pun intended, but don’t bet on it happening.

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