Oleksandr Usyk was set to be a very rich man for fighting Tyson Fury at Wembley – but that wealth would have tripled should the championship contest take place in Saudi Arabia.
Boxing fans were incensed by the collapse of the negotiations between the two current heavyweight champions, being forced to watch the mega fight drown in waves of deadlines and financial disagreements.
Fury increased the tension between the two camps by demanding that Usyk take just 30% of the purse for a Wembley Stadium fight. This was after talks with Saudi Arabia – where each fighter was to negotiate his purse separately – came to nothing.
Bob Arum, who represents Fury’s interests in America, revealed to Steve Kim what that purse split boiled down to in terms of figures
“Because the middle east have a tendency to put up a lot more money than any place else, it’s normal for all kings of people – whether they’re promoter or fighters – to hold out and hope that lightning strikes.”
“That was the problem with the Usyk-Fury negotiation. The deal that was worked out for Usyk in London was he was pretty well guaranteed between 12 and 15 million pounds, which could be almost 20 million dollars.
But he had talked previously with the Saudis, who were interested in doing this fight but not until winter, where they had apparently agreed to pay him 60 million dollars. So can you blame him for being disappointed? That’s human nature.”
Bob Arum on the Haney vs Loma negotiations, and how Middle East money factors into it nowadays… #Boxingpic.twitter.com/58LBN0cKqh
— Steve Kim (@SteveKim323) March 30, 2023
If the numbers are accurate, Usyk’s £15 million in the UK would be dwarfed by £35 million on the home fighter’s part.
Arum’s revelations also do well to show just why so many fighters and promoters are angling for Middle Eastern interest in their bouts.
Unfortunately for fans, though, it seems to have played a part in the downfall of the heavyweight undisputed fight this time around.
It’s understood Saudi Arabia is still interested in hosting later in the year, but three mandatory challengers now await Usyk and it’s unclear if there will be another appropriate time to restart talks, or whether either team will feel up to it.