Boxing is a unique sport in which a number of parties work together to produce a match or event. At the head of the pyramid of boxing is the promoter who sets up the event and matches fighters together to attract fans, revenue, and publicity. A boxing promoter’s job cannot be done, however, without the work of a boxing manager.
A boxing manager is the person who – for the most part – works behind the scenes and is the man or woman that connects a fighter to a promoter. The manager is often unseen by fight fans but their job is no less important than other key figures in boxing. In fact, it may be the manager who is the most important person of all.
Managers have key responsibilities when it comes to contracts, money, and more aspects that surround fighters. A manager doesn’t just take care of a boxer’s personal finances, rather he/she is in charge of an individual’s career on multiple levels. From hiring a trainer to finding a gym to seeking out opponents, a boxing manager has a great impact on a boxer’s life throughout their career. It is a symbiotic relationship like no other in sports.
How much does a boxing manager get paid?
Each case of boxing manager and boxer is unique. A manager will earn what he or she outlines in their contract with the fighter, max cap at 33%. Moreover, the amount is dictated by the payment a promoter will make via the prize purse.
A fighter’s income is dependent on how many fights they have in a year and the level in which they compete. In turn, this affects the amount of money a boxing manager earns. When Manny Pacquiao fought Floyd Mayweather, he grossed a reported $160 million. Out of that money, Pacquiao had to pay his team along with taxes. Pacquiao’s manager Sean Gibbons is one of the men that earned money off of the fight and depending on their agreement, came out with a large sum of cash.
Like many boxing managers, Gibbons is an ex-fighter turned advisor. He had a so-so career that flatlined in the mid-1990s. Gibbons then turned to boxing management and has guided a number of boxers to paydays. Pacquiao’s net worth is reportedly around $220 million. Gibbon’s yearly income is claimed to be over $250,000, although finding confirmation on this proves difficult and it could be far more.
While Gibbons may make over $250,000, that doesn’t mean he earns that exact figure yearly. Due to his fighters and the prize purses they compete for, Gibbons’ earnings could be much more. For example, even if Gibbons’ contract with Pacquiao only guaranteed him 5% of the total prize purse, the manager would earn quite a large amount of money. A 5% cut of Pacquiao’s $160 million gross for the Mayweather fight would have seen Gibbons take home $8 million. Of course, that number could have been more or less depending on their agreement. Even a 1% cut would have seen Gibbons earn $1.6 million.
Novice boxing managers will see the figures bandied about for major fights and believe they can negotiate similar sums of cash for their boxers. However, many boxers just starting out their careers or at a minor level will be given a set fight fee with no negotiations available to make more money. Managers may have to be business-savvy in these cases to acquire their fighter some additional funds.
What does a boxing manager do?
Some of the items boxing managers are in charge of include picking opponents, making decisions on weight class, championships to compete for, number of rounds for fight, and prize purse. For some, the prize purse, or money a fighter earns, is the most important thing a boxing manager does. It is the financial side of a fighter’s career that a manager negotiates before a match and subsequently, takes a part of as payment.
Depending on the contract a boxing manager and fighter sign, a manager can have a lot of control over the boxer’s career. For example, a manager could take care of non-boxing aspects of the fighter’s life such as paying their bills, taking care of the purchase of a house, or simply booking travel.
The number of fighters under a manager’s tutelage can also dictate the level of influence they have. Some managers oversee the careers of hundreds of boxers and have employees capable of sorting out various aspects of the fighter’s personal and professional life. Other managers may only manage a few fighters and could have more influence on them personally.
Regardless, boxing managers have a few select things they do for their fighters. Most important of all, is setting up bouts and helping the boxer earn a living.
The best boxing managers will market and promote their fighters. By marketing a fighter heavily, it attracts fans and promoters who book bouts. If a promoter sees they can make money off of a boxer due to fan interest, then they will receive more significant fights over time. For example, Floyd Mayweather’s bout against Conor McGregor was a major financial boon for all involved. Promoters saw dollar signs when the fight was announced thanks to the work managers of both parties had done in the past to promote the contestants.
A boxing manager doesn’t need high-profile boxers or events to promote their fighters today. Social media and YouTube allow managers to show off their fighters to fans. Managers still have old-school ways to tell people about their fighters as well. Magazines, newspapers, and television channels of various sizes devote time to boxing.
How do boxing contracts work?
Managers scout boxers and search for fighters they can work with. Fighters may also search out managers they know of or have a good reputation. Regardless of how they come together, the pair will agree on some conditions allowing them to work as one.
Undoubtedly, you will hear of boxers and managers working on a handshake agreement. This is when a duo agrees to work together without entering into a legal binding contract. A handshake agreement may seem like a great idea, but it has consequences that can negatively affect both parties. Oftentimes, handshake agreements work until more money is made and the parties disagree on how much each gets.
It is important for aspiring boxing managers to draw up a contract that both they and the boxer can agree on. A boxing contract outlines the way in which the fighter and manager will work together, and it clears up any problems that may arise.
When a boxer signs a contract, they enter into an agreement in which the manager will take care of certain aspects of their career as outlined by the legal document. The aspects that a manager is responsible for is determined by the contract and the terms negotiated.
Boxing managers are the voice for their fighters. It is the manager’s responsibility to communicate with promoters and other parties to set up fights. Managers may also be tasked with setting up interviews with media outlets to promote an upcoming event or to attract sponsors willing to pay money to the fighter.
The prize purse
Boxers make a living from fighting and this income comes from prize purses. A purse is also known as prize money and it is what allows a fighter to live, feed their family, train, and pay their team. The manager is not the only part of a boxer’s team. Depending on the level in which a boxer competes, the team may include a trainer, cutman, and sparing partners. Essentially, these are a boxer’s cornermen and have a major influence on their careers. In most cases, these men and women will be organized by the manager.
It is out of the boxer’s prize purse that these individuals will be paid. For example, if Floyd Mayweather is preparing for a fight, then his prize purse for the bout with cover the payments for these important people.
The same prize purse is what pays a boxing manager for their services. In the United States, a boxing manager can earn up to 33% of a fighter’s total prize purse depending on the state. Certainly, the top boxing managers earn more money for their work. However, there is no hard and fast rule regarding how much a boxing manager makes. A boxing contract will set out what a fighter pays his or her manager, and that is why it is important for managers to set out payment terms in the document the two parties sign.
Boxing doesn’t work like other major sports. The sport offers a simple and unique way that competitors earn a living. A fighter’s earnings are guaranteed ahead of the bout and there are no incentives like in other sports such as football, basketball, or baseball. Unlike in boxing, for example, an NBA player can be rewarded for his or her play on the court. Moreover, a five-year contract may not be fully guaranteed meaning a player’s team isn’t on the hook to pay out the full fee.
A boxer will receive a guarantee to compete in a bout but the fighter must deduct fees to pay out a manager and other members of their team before a final total can be calculated.
How do boxing events make money?
Boxing events take multiple parties working together to pull them off. The size of the event will determine the number of people it takes to come together. A small boxing show at a local sports arena may see three bouts on the card. The number of individuals needed in terms of promoter, managers, fighters, and other various people is quite low.
In comparison, a major fight such as Canelo Alvarez versus Sergey Kovalev would take far more people to put together. The fight’s promoter would be in charge of setting up the event, securing the arena, and organizing other aspects of the show.
A boxing show sees money collected through ticket sales to live fans, the sale of broadcasting rights to television networks, pay-per-view sales, sales to television distributors, and possibly a site fee sale to an arena or casino that pays to put on the event.
Out of the money earned by the promoter, a prize purse for the boxer is agreed. The fighter’s manager will negotiate the prize purse with both an eye on making their client a tidy sum along with earning a nice amount of money for themselves.
Although the top boxing managers can earn a lot of money representing their fighters, it is the promoter that makes far more. Why is that? The promoter puts on the fight and can earn money from all of the aspects of an event. A manager can only earn from his or her fighters.
Major fighters earn more than average Joes
It may sound stupid, but major fighters and elite boxers make far more money than the average Joe. Boxing is a difficult sport in and out of the ring. It can take years for a fighter to move up the ranks to fight on pay-per-view. Even then, they may not be in the main event. A headline bout on pay-per-view would see fighters earn a considerable sum of money. Down the card, however, the money would be adjusted accordingly.
Oftentimes, boxing fans and outsiders believe fighters are making incredible sums of money. However, that isn’t the case for many boxers. The contracts that a boxing manager agrees with the fighter can see the latter walk away with very little. Remember, it is the boxer that must pay out the manager, cutman, and trainer. Each person is paid a certain percentage and is all agreed upon in the fighter’s contract.
According to experts, a manager’s contract can be filled with gray areas. One of which is the money in which a boxer pays their representative. For example, a boxer may receive $1 million for a bout. Out of that money, he or she must pay their manager 15%. However, the problem lies in the amount the boxer receives. In the US, fighters must pay 40% in tax on their earnings. Many contracts do not clarify if the manager’s 15% should come from the gross or the actual take home pay the boxer makes. This is just one of the many items boxing managers must consider when drawing up a contract with their fighters.
Low-level boxers can be taken advantage of by managers due to the gray areas of contracts. It is important for managers to go over the contracts with their fighters and both sides to detail items that might not be clearly stated.
It is easy to think that there is a lot of money in boxing available to fighters at all levels. This is not true whatsoever and the top fighters such as Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, Pacquiao, and Mayweather skew the public’s view of how much the average boxer makes for a fight. The top of the fight game is worth a lot of money as you have seen from previous examples, the bottom end is not as flush with cash, however. Managers earn from their boxers and must be aware that their income is squarely dependent on the fighter’s career. The good news for any prospective boxing manager is they can have multiple fighters in their stable at any one time.
Being a boxing manager
A boxing manager should always be on the lookout for the next fighter to add to their stable. Whether you spot a potential protege at a gym or on the undercard of a fight, you should be ready to jump at the opportunity to add them to your group of fighters.
It is important to know that a fighter may join another management team. Your relationship could come to an end due to the boxer’s growing reputation and potential suitors poaching them. There are always named boxing promoters seeking fighters and making promises of bigger paydays and title fights. It is the nature of the boxing beast. However, one way a manager can eliminate movement is through a contract.
As a boxing manager, you can make a great leaving working with fighters at a minor level. You may never have a boxer reach the pay-per-view or network broadcast television fight standard. Yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot be successful as a boxing manager. There are plenty of boxing managers who make a great leaving working with fighters at a minor level. Although films and television portray these types of managers as men working out of a dilapidated trailer and living hand to mouth, it isn’t really an accurate portrayal.
Boxing managers are key to a fighter’s career. A well-crafted contract can be the difference between a relationship between you and a boxer being successful. The very same contract can dictate just how much money you earn and whether or not you can make a living representing fighters in the king of sports.