What is a purse bid in boxing?

Purse Bids Canelo Alvarez

Overview and simplistic appraisal.

A purse bid in boxing although an initial step is quite simply the first integral stage of arranging a professional boxing match. Without a successful purse bid in boxing no regulated sanctioned fight will occur.


Well, quite simply, the purse bid is the ‘money’ which ultimately decides what the boxers and their camps get paid. From the winning and losing fighters, to the managers and their trainers, the entourages’, to a hell of a lot of people in between and alongside – it all accounts for a very big deal.

Straight forwardly put: if the ‘money men’ cannot be sure to offer a purse bid in boxing that successfully amounts to a total that sees almost everybody happy then the fight will almost certainly not go ahead. The dangers involved both physically and financially simply preclude it from happening.

So what ensures purse bids actually do go through?

Fortunately, herein, the danger is actually often the saviour, in so much as there is usually so much money at stake (particularly when a big fight is in the makings) that there is little chance an acceptable and fairly received purse bid in boxing won’t be tabled. Thereby fights will continue to go ahead irrespective of the avarice involved as a slightly less pay day for all is better than no pay day at all!

Once again quite simply its all about the money!

Who is involved in the purse bids?

Initially, any and all interested and registered promoters of a particular ‘fight card’ are entitled to bid on the purse. The purse bid represents the total money the fighters will be paid for the match. 

So what happens if they really can’t agree to a purse bid?

In some circumstances if the sides representing each fighter fail to agree on a purse bid prior to the registered deadline, then the highest offer, tendered, wins. The winning entity is then obliged to put upfront a percentage of the total amount of the winning bid by a certain date as as sign of surety they will be able to make good on their purse bid and the event will be a success.

How does a purse bid then proceed?

Protocol and procedure regarding purse bids in boxing are organisationally dependent, i.e what governs a purse bid in boxing being deemed acceptable at the WBA for example might not be the same as the criteria for which it is at the IBF. The major belts/organisations will however try to ensure some kind of generic uniformity is in effect here though fully aware that the process is already fraught with difficulties and at pains not to make the process more arduous. 

Does this mean purse bids will ultimately usually end up solving things if negotiations fail?

Not always. Modern litigious culture dictates that the power of money aside there are always all manner of legal loopholes in existence to ensure that it is almost impossible for a fight to go through unless both parties are happy. Well at least that is the reality at the upper end of the ‘boxing pyramid’ anyway. At the local boxing club unfortunately it is more likely a case of ‘here’s what’s on offer mate – take it or leave it!’

How is the purse bid arrived at?

There are literally hundreds of factors that affect each purse bid in boxing and no-one purse bid is likely to be exactly the same.

To take an extreme example a purse bid for say a fight between Mayweather vs Pacquaio is never going to be on the same scale as that of a purse bid between two newly seasoned professionals eg “John maybe going somewhere” vs “James likely going nowhere”. 

So inevitably organisations and sanctioning commissions at the respective levels of the sport are involved and apply generic formulas relative to the level of the fights worth. The fighters then get a ‘split’ of the purse according to these preset formulas.

Naturally once again those at the the lower end of the boxing pyramid tend to have less lucrative limits capping the amounts they can earn whilst for those at the apex of the boxing pyramid the limit is set only by the old adage – “how much money can be made out of it?”

Who usually wins a boxing purse bid?

Boxing purse bids are usually won by one of the two fighters promoters.

However for championship fights sanctioned under a given body (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO etc) the two fighters ‘camps’ or more likely legal/corporate/marketing/human resources departments these days, will usually get together to try and agree the best deal for all concerned. Themselves included!

What happens if the corporate hotshots can’t agree a bid purse?

Well here’s where it can get interesting if the two sides can’t agree or even if just one side can’t agree with his own promoter then sometimes the “bid purse” is opened up by the relevant organisation/body in question to any promoter that would like to put on the fight.

How does that affect a purse bid?

Again it can get interesting: 

Sometimes it has the effect of forcing the two promoters to agree a deal as outside purse bids frequently attract bigger money which trumps the ‘vested interest’ money. So a last minute deal will likely be signed to avert this occurring. Such was the case in 2015 when K2 Promotions for Wladimir Klitschko and Mick Hennessy for Tyson Fury were initially unable to come to an agreement until the WBA declared they would send it to a bid purse. ‘Low and behold’ shortly before the purse bid was about to open up to all promoters the two sides announced they had come to an agreement!

Alternatively it can work conversely:

Recently for example George Kambosos Jr. and unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez were unable to agree to an initial purse bid. Rather uniquely in this instance because Teofimo Lopez was unable to agree with his own promoters, Top Rank. So the IBF subsequently sent it to a purse bid. As is often the case when purse bids are opened (even with someone the size of ‘Top Rank’ involved) a bigger bid was made by rivals ‘Triller’ and they ultimately gained the rights to show the fight.

So purse bids in boxing are open to a sizeable deal of manipulation then?

Yes absolutely. Basically everyone is out to get as much money as they can for themselves whilst ensuring ‘the show still goes on’ with as much fanfare as possible. For it all just generates more money. Thus the system is ‘gamed’ as much as possible. 

Nevertheless, the accepted rule of thumb with purse bids in boxing is that when it actually goes to a purse bid, the highest bidder wins and the champion almost always gets a higher percentage with the challenger granted a lower percentage. So individual fighters especially champions can often have a huge influence on the entire purse bid process and in particular the split of it. Few champions for example will accept under a 60/40 split unless the challenger is also a champion and seen of close to equal status.

The challengers on the other hand tend to be more keen for a fast wrap up of negotiations between their respective promoters, acceptant of the fact that one day they will be in the stronger position should they win and would likely lose out further if it goes to an open purse bid.

So are there any other major problems with purse bids in boxing?

Sure! the list is literally endless as is the chicanery that pervades them particularly when it comes to the bigger fights, with the greater amount of money involved just exacerbating things.

One of the biggest and newest problems these days is that some fighters are now big enough to be their own promoters. See for example, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather’s business model and how the ‘Money Team’ are able to monopolise negations they enter into. In essence more or less allowing them to get what they want, when they put on a show.

So anything else ?

Well if you want an example of where irrefutable problems can arise which purse bids were unable to solve no matter the size of them; then it can and has occurred when fighters were linked to different Pay Pay View contracts and the TV networks would not yield. Such was the case numerous times when respective fighters (in particular involving rival champions) were contracted on HBO and others on Showtime.

An interesting article exploring this in its heyday is available here: https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1903927-the-real-war-hbo-and-showtime-battle-for-boxings-future

And the promoters view of bid purses in boxing?

Well its all very easy stuff and not at all anything complicated confusing or clandestine! 

Just listen to Eddie Hearn from 3.30 minutes forward in the following interview who clears it all up!!!!