By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Skeptics insist Deontay Wilder took a lot less money to fight Dominic Breazeale on Showtime than he would’ve earned had DAZN streamed that fight.
DAZN executive chairman John Skipper offered Wilder $120 million in guarantees to fight four times on the emerging streaming service. That proposal included the Breazeale bout, two fights against Anthony Joshua and a fourth fight.
After conferring with adviser Al Haymon and co-managers Shelly Finkel and Jay Deas, Wilder choose Showtime as the network to air the Breazeale bout. Showtime has televised 12 Wilder fights, including each of his past three appearances, the last of which was his Showtime Pay-Per-View draw with Tyson Fury.
Stephen Espinoza appreciates Wilder’s loyalty, but Showtime Sports’ president emphasized during a recent interview with BoxingScene.com that Wilder will be compensated comparable to what DAZN offered for battling Breazeale in their “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event May 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“We’re not going to publicize all of the financial arrangements, like other have seen fit to do,” Espinoza said. “Now, if we did, I think he’d probably receive less criticism. But his financial arrangements are his business, and his business alone. But to be absolutely clear, in general terms, we never saw this as, ‘Be loyal and take a lot less money.’ He has established himself at a certain level, and he’s due compensation of that level. And he’s getting that. He just decided to stay with his current partner in order to continue getting that.”
Most boxing fans and industry experts expected Wilder-Breazeale to be distributed as the main event of a pay-per-view broadcast by Showtime or FOX. Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) and Showtime announced during a press conference Tuesday that Showtime will air his fight versus Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs) live on that premium cable network.
The 33-year-old Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is not committed to Showtime beyond the Breazeale bout. That freedom should allow Wilder, at least theoretically, to negotiate again with representatives for DAZN and ESPN, both of which offered him long-term contracts recently, as he purses a rematch with Fury (ESPN) and a much-discussed showdown with Anthony Joshua (DAZN).
“It is refreshing, but it’s not surprising coming from Deontay,” Espinoza said of Wilder’s loyalty. “This will be our 12th fight together. We’ve spent a fair amount of time together and I know he’s a loyal guy. But that’s not the end of the conversation. Loyalty doesn’t mean that you dance with who brought you, even if it means taking one-tenth of what’s available on the open market. That’s not the kind of loyalty we would ever expect. Loyalty means if you are generally in the same neighborhood with the financial opportunities, I think loyalty is the tie-breaker to stay with who got you there. And I think that’s the situation. So that’s why I think it’s important to emphasize that Deontay isn’t making a financial sacrifice.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.