October 10, 2013
There are two numbers -- 48 and 6.6 million -- that make the notion of a Lennox Lewis comeback to fight one of the Klitschko brothers flat out laughable.
But that failed to stop reporters in the United Kingdom from breathlessly reporting that the 48-year-old Lewis was mulling a $100 million offer to fight one of the Klitschko brothers sometime next year.
The story is bunk, and both sides trashed it on Thursday. Lewis denied it on Twitter, where he called the prospect of the bout ridiculous. And Klitschko manager Bernd Boente, in comments to the Daily Telegraph, said it was "absurd and garbage."
Boente made several good points about why the fight made no sense.
That isn't the first time that [Lewis] has offered to fight for a sum like that. He nearly always says that when he is in Germany as a guest at a Klitschko fight. I saw him in Moscow in the ring [at the Wladimir Klitschko-Alexander Povetkin fight and] he is not fit anymore and has a belly. And at 48, he isn't the youngest any more.
Let's get to the numbers here. If the fight happens next spring, let's say in April, Lewis would be 48 years, 8 months old. And at that point, he would not have had a fight of any kind in 10 years, 10 months. So even if he were considering a comeback, which he clearly is not, how would he at 48 and retired for almost 11 years merit a title fight against one of the two most dominant heavyweights of this time?
As great as Lewis was during his brilliant Hall of Fame career, he's not good enough at his age to walk out of retirement, into the ring and beat someone the caliber of either Klitschko brother. And while yes, George Foreman returned after 10 years in retirement, he fought a string of tomato cans for several years before moving on to legitimate competition.
But let's say that you think that somehow Lewis would be able to overcome his age and inactivity to at least qualify to fight one of the Klitschkos. That's where the 6.6 million figure comes in.
According to Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, who knows a thing or two about promoting pay-per-view, in order for a Lewis-Klitschko fight to be viable at the purses that are being discussed in the British media, the bout would have to sell approximately 6.6 million pay-per-views in the U.S. AND at least 2.0 million in the U.K. AND it would have to earn 300 percent of the revenue record out of Germany.
The record for pay-per-view sales for one fight in the U.S. is 2.5 million, set in 2007 by Floyd Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya. Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez just sold 2.2 million pay-per-views last month in the highest-grossing bout ever.
The record for pay-per-view sales for one fight in the U.K., according to Schaefer, is just over 1 million for the 2007 fight between Mayweather and Ricky Hatton.
Can you see why this will never work?
So, there will be no Lewis-Vitali Klitschko II or Lewis-Wladimir Klitschko I. Anyone with a brain knew that. Lewis retired after defeating Vitali Klitschko in 2003. He's been gone for 10 years and four months now, and it would have been almost 11 years by the time the so-called fight would have been made. At that point, Lewis would have been bearing down on his 49th birthday.
The British media has for much of those 10 years been reporting that Lewis is considering a comeback and/or urging him to fight again. It's flat wrong to encourage a guy who has announced his retirement to come back, particularly a guy who has been retired for more than a decade. What's next, urging 71-year-old Muhammad Ali to give it one more shot?
But these constant "scoops" hurt the sport. Earlier this month, the Daily Mail also had an "exclusive" in which it reported that Mayweather would fight Amir Khan in Las Vegas in May. Further, the story reported that Khan would be guaranteed $6 million, or $1 million more than Alvarez was actually paid to fight Mayweather. That disregards the fact that Alvarez was a much bigger attraction than Khan and had far more leverage when he negotiated with Mayweather than Khan would have.
It's virtually impossible that Khan could earn more guaranteed than Alvarez did.
Of course, both Schaefer and Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe not only denied the story, but both said they had not spoken to anyone from the Daily Mail about it.
Schaefer told Yahoo Sports on Thursday that when the Daily Mail story broke, Khan called him and was very upset.
"Amir was worried that someone was trying to cheat him out of a Devon Alexander fight," Schaefer said. "He said he thought that if Devon thought he had the Mayweather fight, that they would then go look to fight somebody else. He was very upset about that story. I know that neither Amir nor anyone with him team leaked that."
These phony stories actually have a negative impact upon fights getting made. Schaefer cited a potential Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight as one that was a victim, at least in part, of faulty reporting.
There have been countless others reported with no substantiation that affect the way things ultimately play out. It should go without saying, but it's a reporter's job to report the news as fairly and accurately as possible. Anonymous sources should rarely be used and certainly not to announce a fight, though it still happens on a daily basis.
"As you know, over the last six-to-12 months, I have gone from being very open and frank with reporters to playing my cards very close to the vest and it's because of all of these inaccurate reports that get out there," Schaefer said. "I get so careful now I almost go into hiding when it comes to talking to any media member when it's about a fight I'm trying to put together. The environment is such with the divide between HBO and Showtime and Golden Boy and Top Rank that the only way to get things done is to keep my cards close to the vest.
"These false stories derail things. People read something and then someone says something in relation to what they read and this guy talks to that guy and before you know it, a fight that you thought could be put together doesn't get done."
Khan may ultimately fight Mayweather in the spring, though personally, I doubt it. Khan is an entertaining, if not erratic, fighter, and he doesn't have a strong resume to demand a Mayweather fight. Khan is 2-2 in his last four and was knocked down by Julio Diaz, who is long past his prime, in his last outing.
Further, Khan was knocked out in four rounds by Danny Garcia, who then defeated the tough Lucas Matthysse on the Mayweather-Alvarez undercard. Garcia is 27-0 and would deserve a Mayweather bout far more than Khan.
But it's not out of the realm of possibility that Khan will get the bout against Mayweather. That, though, wouldn't make the Oct. 2 Daily Mail story correct.
When contacted by Yahoo Sports on Oct. 2, Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe called the report a joke.
"We know Khan is out there and it's my job to keep an eye on everyone who is out there who could conceivably in one way or another be involved with Floyd, but as far as us talking and seeking them out and talking terms for a fight [in May], no, that never happened," Ellerbe said. "We never talked about it once. Hell, Floyd just got done fighting two weeks ago."
On Thursday, Schaefer referred to himself as "the principal negotiator," for Mayweather bouts and said if anyone knew that talks for a Mayweather-Khan fight were happening, it would have been him. Nothing, he said, occurred.
There are plenty of good stories in boxing that can be written and talked about, which makes it so stunning why these stories continually seem to pop up. They then get retweeted and reposted on other sites and sooner or later, people take them as gospel.
It's high time that some of the reporters worried less about breaking stories and more about making certain that the stories they're about to write are correct.
Everyone makes a mistake, and mistakes are forgivable. It's not so easily forgivable, though, when even after proof of their inaccuracy is presented that nothing is done to correct it.
It doesn't inspire much confidence in the industry, but it's where boxing journalism has sadly landed in 2013.