With the dust now settled on Fury vs Paul, has this fight sent out the wrong message?

It was retired Northern Irish legend Carl Frampton who perhaps put it best when he said that after initially being opposed to watching Jake Paul and Tommy Fury fight, in the end, he understood the appeal of a unique fight that has changed boxing for good.

In particular, the former world super bantamweight champion was reflecting on the fact that members of his own family who in the past had shown little enthusiasm for boxing, all tuned in to watch the Saudi Arabian showdown which the young Englishman won. In Frampton’s eyes, this entire spectacle has been successful in reaching out to a new audience that wouldn’t have typically gone out of their way to watch boxing.

You can appreciate the point that the Belfast-born boxer is trying to make given that both Paul and Fury have a reputation that has, for all intents and purposes, been forged in show business. In other words, there were millions of people who only previously knew them for what made them famous outside of the ring. When they both decided to venture into it, these watching eyes made the journey over the ropes with them which is why the pay-per-view numbers for their showdown in the desert were so high.

In this sense, it’s not hard to see why this exposure could be viewed as a positive for boxing as a whole but at the same time, this glitzy bout in Diriyah has potentially created a misconception about what it takes to earn the rewards that come with a successful career. 

Dreams are made in the desert

The truth is that Paul and Fury have made in the region of £4 million each from this match. In fact, Paul earned closer to £7 million as the deal was structured in a way that the American was paid 65% of pay-per-view sales. Ordinarily, this is a sum that a challenger for a heavyweight world title fight would expect to take home. 

Perhaps better context can be provided by referring to Oleksandr Usyk, whose final payout in the upcoming match against Tyson Fury won’t be far off what Paul got from this exhibition bout in Saudi Arabia. The only difference is that if Usyk wins, which is a possibility given that anyone betting on boxing will see that he is priced at just 7/4 to do so, the Ukrainian then becomes the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Meanwhile, Paul ended up leaving the Middle East having been beaten by someone who has yet to fight ten times in his own career. 

An unrealistic expectation 

The reality is that these fees that have subsequently been paid out to both Paul and Fury are not an accurate representation of the status that the pair have in professional boxing. Yes, they put on a respectable show but at the end of the day, they remain novices. 

Of course, it would undoubtedly be too strong to say that they don’t deserve the money they made given that if anyone is capable of successfully manufacturing a substantial purse of this size from a limited background in the ring, then their efforts should be rewarded. In Paul’s and Fury’s case, they both have strong brands and that worked in their favour in Saudi Arabia – this isn’t something that should be held against them as businessmen.

But now that the dust has settled, no one looking on at this spectacle who has just become a boxing fan should think that this is in any way normal. Most of the time, shortcuts can’t be taken and to earn eye-watering prizes from boxing, a lifetime of blood, sweat, and tears have to be sacrificed in the ring first.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com