By Paul Magno | December 28, 2023

Thursdays, in this corner of the Universo Pugilistico, are all about my sack-- my bulging, bulbous, aching sack-- and the gooey, salty truth contained within. So...sit back, close your eyes, pull back your hair, and get ready for this week's money shot of wisdom. This week we have comments/questions regarding the Saudis’ impact on boxing and Deontay Wilder’s future. 

The Saudi Future in Boxing

P Mag.

FIRST, hope all is well with you and your family. Secondly, You talked about in Notes from the Underground, about the potential of the Saudi's getting involved in boxing and how fighters could begin to abandon their country as far as fighting is concerned. About two weeks ago, Hearn said that fighters shouldn't wait by the phone for a Saudi phone call for a big pay day.

He also said the Saudis are looking to host BIG fights (not super feather weight fights) at different times of the season. A little bit after that, Frank Warren said the opposite. He said he thinks the Saudis are looking to do fights on a regular there. It looks like your premonition is slowly coming true. Care to elaborate? 

– Robert Elmore

Hey Robert.

It’s very likely that neither Hearn nor Warren know anything about the Saudis’ plans beyond where the checks are signed and the tacit agreement of more checks in the future. It doesn’t seem too likely that the Saudis are very open when it comes to their long-range plans and I doubt that any of the outsiders taking their money will be too aggressive in pushing for details. So, both Hearn and Warren could be 100% honest with their personal assessments of the future, at least as far as what they know.

Regardless, fighters who believe they may be up for a big Saudi payday will be conservative with their career choices while that money keeps flowing. It’s just human nature, especially in the boxing business. Forget about any movement at the higher end of the divisions above 168, especially. Nobody is going to risk a big and/or easy money haul by taking tougher fights elsewhere for a lesser payout. We saw this on a lesser scale back during the Klitschko era. Anyone in line for a trip to Eastern Europe and a Klitschko payday would just sit around until they got their number called. It happens and it’s going to happen on a grander scale with Saudi Arabia. We may get a small handful of the really big fights, but that will come at the expense of most movement a tier or two below that. And even those fights we do “get,” will not be of much benefit to the sport as they’ll be placed well out of the reach of the sport’s actual fandom and behind afternoon pay-per-view paywalls.

I’d like to say that I’m surprised at how readily boxing media and boxing businessmen in general are embracing the Saudis’ potential restructuring of the business, but it’s actually not surprising at all. As I mentioned in this Monday’s Notes from the Boxing Underground column, boxing people have always scrambled to curry favor with new money coming into the business. The Saudis, with their unlimited supply of filthy lucre, make for the perfect money marks. So, expect everyone to keep bending over backwards to ingratiate themselves to the “kingdom.” And with rumors abounding that the Saudis may be looking to fund a “super” boxing media site, expect the media to be even more fawningly supportive of everything they do. 

Saudi Arabia getting more into boxing (and that looks to be the case) is not a positive for the sport.

A Bronze Bust?

Hi Paul. 

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Is Deontay Wilder done or what? It’s not so much that he lost to Joseph Parker, but the way that he lost. He showed none of that bombastic aggression or self-confidence that he’s become known for. He went out pretty meekly and didn’t seem to recognize where he was going wrong. Even after the fight he seemed to think that he did enough to win. Is this the end of the Wilder era? If so, it’s been fun and I wish him the best. 

– Damian from El Paso.

Hey Damian.

Barring some freakish turnaround, I think Wilder’s done. Honestly, I haven’t seen him as the same fighter for awhile now, probably since the first Fury fight. He’s never been a skills guy, but I’ve noticed a decline in skill, in coordination, and in general efficiency over the last several fights and what we saw Saturday may have been the last stop in that deterioration. It’s just a good thing that he wasn’t fighting a killer who might’ve hurt him. My guess is that, maybe, less effective training work and/or less of a dedication to training and just a general lack of fire have contributed to the decline. Plus, there are, of course, the beatings he took against Fury. Is it possible to get that fire back and to fine-tune technique, even at 38 years of age? Yeah, but it’s not likely and it’s even less likely if the person in question is sitting on piles of cash, surrounded by friends and hangers-on who will tell him anything he wants to hear. 

Wilder’s been fun and there’s no need to try and add on to a legacy that should already sit well in the big picture of boxing. The man went from truck driving boxing novice, picking up the sport as an adult, to a world champ and a reputation as one of the bigger heavyweight punchers of all-time. It’s a shame that so many people tried to shit on his achievements as he piled them up, but Wilder’s place in history is secure and it’s very respectable.  

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