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Kevin Iole: This whole ‘Nick Diaz in boxing’ thing is one big work

By Zach Arnold | April 26, 2011

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Discussion between Kevin Iole & Steve Cofield of Yahoo’s MMA site about Nick Diaz wanting to have a boxing match

To summarily introduce a new item into this story mix, here’s Cesar Gracie commenting to Josh Gross on Monday:

“I was literally in a meeting … and… they had a couple of UFC brass guys, lead counsel and so forth with us and that’s what we were discussing. I think things are moving in a positive direction and we’re working on it, so we should be able to get something done soon here is what I’m hoping on, so those guys are working on it for us and we’ll see what we can come up with.”

Add that to the backdrop of this story when you’re reading these comments from the radio spot. The context revolves around the salaries of both MMA & boxers, primarily with the news last week from ESPN The Magazine that Brock Lesnar made an estimate $5 million dollars-plus in 2010. The question – do fighters make too much or too little? Are you on the side of the fighters or the side of the promoters?

KEVIN IOLE: “I’m on both sides here. Now, we have a lot of fans that say, you know, especially in MMA that fighters should be paid and there’s a balance as fans, I want the fighters to do as well as they can both in boxing & MMA because I know the risk their taking. But at the same time, if you start paying guys what you’re paying Pacquiao & Floyd Mayweather, etc. then you can’t make other fights because the money is just not there. One of the reasons that you don’t see guys like Pacquiao fight but a couple a times of year because the promoters can’t afford to pay it, it’s just too expensive and too big of a thing. So, you know, you’re cutting them in. So, there’s a middle ground that we want to see the pay scale for the fighters reach where we want the fighters to be compensated very well for taking the risks that they take in putting on the show that they put on but, by the same token, we don’t want one guy to be able to price out everybody else and so we’re going to end up having a bunch of mismatches. So there’s a real fine line there that has to be walked.”

STEVE COFIELD: “Would you argue that the 30th biggest MMA fighter makes a lot more than the 30th biggest boxer?”

KEVIN IOLE: “I would say yes. I would say that the 30th biggest MMA fighter, there is a middle class in MMA which does not exist in boxing. In boxing, you have I think probably, well just taking Mayweather & Pacquiao alone you could say two fighters earn over 90% of the money. But I think if you say you could probably say 10 fighters are earning 99% of the money in boxing and that would be very close to being accurate. And in MMA, it’s spread out much more. So, you know, I think that’s probably true. You have a good, solid middle class working in MMA that you don’t have in boxing.”

STEVE COFIELD: “Now, it’s weird. Nick Diaz is on top of the world. He is line eventually to maybe meet up with Georges St. Pierre. He’s doing well, he’s getting paid well, we’re reading like $175,000 a fight and, yet, he called his life a living hell and is now calling out boxers. And I heard a media take the other day, I think it was on HDNet from Kenny Rice who does the Inside MMA show, and he said that Diaz if he was to meet a guy like Fernando Vargas for a big fight like that maybe he would make upwards of half or it would it match what he’s made in half of his MMA fights.”

KEVIN IOLE: “That’s so ludicrous almost not to deserve comment. I think if Nick Diaz fought Fernando Vargas he’d been lucky, and I’m saying lucky, to make $100,000. I think he would have made probably closer to $75,000 or $50,000. But it doesn’t matter because he’s not going to box, I mean that’s just not going to happen. And if he did, talking about fighting Sergio Martinez. Are you kidding me? C’mon. I mean, they’re different sports, they’re not going to make it. But no, the top end boxers are making that kind of money. But there’s not guys that are just, you know, off for five years coming back making that money, no way and no way would Nick Diaz, who would mean nothing to a boxing audience, he’d mean nothing. It would do, you know, there’s no way that he would make that kind of money.”

STEVE COFIELD: “Well, what I think MMA media sometimes fail to pick up on is that TV drives the whole boxing thing money-wise unless it’s on PPV and obviously that’s TV, too, but it’s either HBO or Showtime who have to work to pony up big money and like you just said I don’t think Showtime is going to kind of screw its own product by taking Diaz over to boxing and having him lose badly and I would assume HBO has no interest in a guy who’s 1-0 even if he is a big MMA star, so how the hell would that warrant getting him a pay day of $200,000, $400,000, $500,000, $1,000,000. It just wouldn’t happen.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Look at what Erik Morales made to fight Marcos Maidana a couple of weeks ago. … Morales, when he is done fighting, is a Hall of Famer. Erik Morales was guaranteed $250,000 for that fight! Where are they coming off that a guy like Nick Diaz is going to make that kind of money for never having boxed before! They’re out of minds, they’re absolutely out of their minds. Kenny Rice is wrong, not even close to being right.”

Topics: Boxing, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 30 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

30 Responses to “Kevin Iole: This whole ‘Nick Diaz in boxing’ thing is one big work”

  1. MK says:

    Iole manages to shill for the UFC even in random instances like this. The top 30 boxers make more then the top 30 MMA fighters and he doesn’t mention that Morales gets a PPV share and part of the profits from Mexican TV (the fight drew something like 30 million on TV there).

    He is right for the most part about Diaz. Boxing fans won’t care and judging by the recent sparring footage he did against Omar Henry, even brain dead Vargas would destroy him.

    • Jason Harris says:

      “the top 30 boxers make more then the top 30 MMA fighters”

      Source? Everyone seems to talk about boxers making crazy money based off of what two guys make, but really, I’d love to see some figures for a guy who isn’t fighting Mayweather or Pacquiao. From what I’ve seen, what Iole (who also is a boxing writer, and covers Boxing stuff for Yahoo) says about 99% of the money being made by ~10 guys is 100% true.

      • MK says:

        Top Bantamweights make more then Diaz, as is probably the case for some flyweights. Boxing has many regional draws.

        Even guys like Miguel Vazquez made 150k for his last fight. Who you ask?…that’s right, even Mexicans don’t care about that guy and he is making decent money.

        Iole is a good boxing reporter but he knows his role…

        • Jason Harris says:

          Nothing you’ve said has actually contradicted what Iole said. Saying “He’s a shill! his facts are wrong!” without disproving the facts doesn’t accomplish anything.

          I’d really love to see numbers showing that there are lots of guys making lots of money in boxing. “regional draw” doesn’t translate to making money in my mind.

        • MK says:

          What exactly do you want? I can list 30 boxers that make more then the top 30 MMA fighters. I won’t bother because you won’t recognize most of the names, so what’s the point?

          Just the fighters who fight on Showtime and HBO boxing will probably surpass the 30 mark. Then you have all the European draws and all the random regional fighters from various places. Not everyone makes millions of dollars, but on average they will still make more then MMA fighters.

        • MK says:


          Somebody else already wrote the names. If you want numbers research it yourself. I gave you a good example already with Vazquez who is a non-draw.

        • Nottheface says:

          Iole is other grossly misinformed for a boxing reporter or intentionally misleading, take your pick. Any cursory examinations of boxing purses will show dozens making more per fight than only a handul of the top MMA fighters. Only recently on HBO Berto got $1.3 Million while
          Ortiz got $400,000 and on April 9th Erik Morales got $250,000 plus an undisclosed pecentage of payperview sales and Mexican TV licensing thought to be worth over a million and his opponent Marcos  Maidana got $500,000. That’s this month alone and that’s not including Pacquiao, Mayweather, the Klitschkos, or Mosely who easily make more than anyone in MMA or JMM, Hayes, Khan, Margaritto, Williams, Ward, Dirrell, Froch, or Abraham who make as much as anyone in MMA.

          It’s great that Iole brings up the question “are the big name boxers taking too much?” but it’s noteworthy that he doesn’t question the same of the UFC’s promoters. For comparison between the two models one only needs to look at the top ppv selling cards of 2008 and the purse payouts of that year:
          1. Boxing: Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao, Dec. 6, 1,250,000
          2. UFC: Forrest vs Evans, Dec. 27, 1,060,000
          3. UFC: Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture, Nov. 15, 1,010,000
          4. Wrestling: WrestleMania, Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Paul “Big Show” Wight, March 30, 670,000
          5. UFC: Georges St. Pierre vs. Jon Fitch/Lesnar vs. Heath Herring, Aug. 9, 625,000
          6. UFC: Lesnar vs. Frank Mir, Feb. 2, 600,000
          7. UFC: Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin, July 5, 540,000
          8. UFC: St. Pierre vs. Matt Serra, April 19, 530,000
          9. Boxing: Felix Trinidad vs. Roy Jones Jr., Jan. 19, 500,000
          10. UFC: Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans, Sept. 6, 480,000
          Top 10 fight purses of 2008:
          1. Oscar Delahoya – $24,000,000
          2. Felix Trinidad – $14,000,000
          3. Wladimir Klitschko – $12,000,000
          4. Manny Pacquiao – $11,000,000
          T5. Joe Calzaghe – $10,000,000
          T5. Roy Jones – $10,000,000
          7. Bernard Hopkins – $8,000,000
          8. Miguel Cotto – $7,000,000
          T9. Randy Couture-$3,000,000
          T9. Brock Lesnar -$3,000,000
          T9. Kelly Pavlik – $3,000,000

        • Jason Harris says:

          @MK: I’ll concede I underestimated how much a lot of the European and other international boxers make, I think Iole (and most people) go into it with a US-Centric mindset.

          I will say that one thing nobody seems to factor in is that when boxing payouts are given, they include damn near every piece of money that fighter is getting for that fight, as opposed to the commission disclosed payouts most people compare for MMA. Wonder why they don’t have those for Boxing? I’d like to see some more apples to apples comparisons.

        • The Gaijin says:

          “I will say that one thing nobody seems to factor in is that when boxing payouts are given, they include damn near every piece of money that fighter is getting for that fight, as opposed to the commission disclosed payouts most people compare for MMA. Wonder why they don’t have those for Boxing?”

          @Jason – I believe more than a few of the boxers’ purse #’s ARE the commission disclosed payments. Look at ODLH/Pac -that $24mm/$11mm is tje GUARANTEED fight purse or commission reported number – that number doesn’t include the ppv cuts (60/40) or Filipino tv and theatre rights. I’ve seen reported numbers for Oscar making something like $65mm overall for the fight when it was all said and done. And actually, the numbers provided for Couture and Lesnar ($3mm) aren’t their “commission disclosed” numbers either, those include their ppv cuts…so your “apples to apples” might look even worse if you stripped out the money they made on ppv cuts (they both get around $250k-$300k iirc).

          Fact of the matter is, people discuss the ppv cuts and tv deals or other deals (e.g. gate cuts)for boxers because boxers actually receive those forms of compensation and negotiate them into their deals. For example, Morales got a $250k commission disclosed payment, that didn’t include the Mexican TV and PPV cut, but those numbers included in the “discussion” because that’s what he was “guaranteed” to receive (e.g. not a discretionary shower room bonus or FOTN bonus). For mma guys, other than the select few who get ppv cuts (the number of fighters getting this is reportedly shrinking too, fyi), these compensation metrics just don’t exist right now.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    Manny Pacquiao was tied for the highest salary in sports with Alex Rodriguez. The problem is that A-Rod competes in 162 games a year, along with pre season games and typically at least a round or two of playoffs.

    So to say that boxing’s payscale is out of wack is an under statement. Jeter & A-Rod bring in most of the fans, yet they aren’t getting 95% of the money. Heck, Jeter’s jersey was the best selling for 2010. They are getting a good chunk of salaries, but there are many other guys making millions who aren’t bringing in viewers.

    So why anybody…. On this post or in other discussions…. Would use boxing as a basis for what MMA salaries should be is comical at best. Sports thrive the most when the money is passed around more to help for th egrowth of the sport.

    Notice how Diaz talked a lot about boxing…. But no real news has come of it since….. Hmmmmm….. I wonder why….

    • 45 Huddle says:

      And before somebody says: “But baseball is a team sport”…

      There is no sport I can think of on a large scale where the pay is so out of wack. The promoters have lost control of the sport.

      Any discussion trying to relate boxing pay to any other sport is just a bad avenue to go down.

      The UFC is still relatively new compared to most established sports. Pay will increase over time. It always does. As new revenue streams are created through advertising and international expansion, it will allow pay to grow even more.

      Iole is just as pitiful as Diaz is in this discussion.

      • The Gaijin says:

        The Yankees organization is more of a draw than Jeter or A-Rod. If Jeter played for the Reds he wouldn’t be 1/10th the “draw” that he is, and frankly A-Rod’s stints in Seattle & Texas proved that while he was being paid ungodly sums because of his skill-level he wasn’t some mega revenue draw…it wasn’t until he came to the Yankees that he became a huge media/fan draw.

        People explicitly come to see Manny Pacquiao, he’s actually underpaid for his economic value. People come to see the Yankees AND Jeter and A-Rod, but as Jeter’s latest contract negotiations showed, his value is almost completely tied to being a New York Yankee.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          That is a huge misconception. The Yankee name alone won’t bring in fans. Look at footage from the late 1980’s game as proof of that. They wouldn’t even open up sections of the outfield seats. Trust me, I know. I was at some of those games.

          4 Million tickets purchased in a year doesn’t happen without star power.

          Jeter’s jersey sales are also proof of it. And A-Rod’s personality was made for NY. His big ego won’t sell tickets in Seattle. But that big ego matches the NY Lifestyle.

          But it’s not just the Yankees. A lot of these teams are not paying out such a huge percentage of revenues to one specific athlete. It just doesn’t happen in most of the established sports.

        • The Gaijin says:

          “That is a huge misconception. The Yankee name alone won’t bring in fans. Look at footage from the late 1980’s game as proof of that. They wouldn’t even open up sections of the outfield seats. Trust me, I know. I was at some of those games.”

          You can’t really compare the way sports was marketed and sold in the 1980s (or any other era for that matter) with the way the teams are marketed, sold and consumed in the modern era. You’re ignoring the realities of modern professional sports – ESPN and the 24/7 sports channels only started making a big impact in the 90s, sports went from having wacky old money owners and family owned teams to media conglomerates. The Yankees/Red Sox literally became billion dollar juggernauts from the 1990s onward – I don’t think I ever heard of the Evil Empire until the 90s.

          I fully agree these teams need “star power” but they are also a machine for creating the stars…they take guys that are at best popular players, put them in their jersey and make them a superstar (Damon, Giambi, Matsui, etc). Jeter’s entire image is based on being a Yankee, that’s why he’d never leave to go play for the Mets, Reds or elsewhere. Undeniably these are guys that are bigger stars (A-Rod/Jeter), but they need that synergy of being on that particular team (e.g. “the big ego matches the NY Lifestyle”) in order to leverage their value. A-Rod could be replaced with 10 other players in the league right now and the Yankees would continue to sell the house out and make millions, there is only one Manny Pacquiao.

          Also, team sports by-and-large have salary caps or max contracts and limit the contracts that the teams could pay to the Michael Jordans and Kobe Bryants of the world – wasn’t this a divisive issue with the NBAPA’s CBA negotiations a few years back? Peyton Manning makes like 15% of his teams salary cap, guys like Brady or Crosby specifically take less in order for their team to pay for better supporting casts, but they still have 40 players they need to pay to field a team and I’d really like to see how the rest is divvied up to the other 39 guys because I bet his percentage pay dwarfs a lot of theirs.

    • Steve4192 says:

      “The problem is that A-Rod competes in 162 games a year”

      Apples and oranges.

      Manny competes in a sport that requires eight-week training camps before every ‘game’. MLB players hardly train at all in-between games. For fighters, all the hard work is done behind the scenes is dreary little gyms before they compete. For baseball players, the competition is the work.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Correct, the training is different. But we are talking about 170+ potential days of revenue for A-Rod and 1 for Manny.

        There is no major sport where the pay is so out of wack like it is in boxing. Which makes it the worst sport to bring up to compare to….

        • edub says:

          But the 170 days of potential revenue for baseball with Arod also includes 170 days of stadium fees, personnel fees, etc..

          In the few days that Manny competes; millions of people in the US plop down 50+ dollars to watch him. Not to mention the tv rights around the world, and the live gates.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Are you trying to tell me that a boxing event…. Even on it’s largest stage….

          Is comparable to the Super Bowl? Or The World Series? Or the NBA Finals?

          Those events bring in so much more money…. Which is why they are on NETWORK TV…. And Boxing is regulated to PPV. Boxing is niche. Just like the UFC. The NFL is Americana.

          And with all that money coming in…. You don’t see the payscale out of wack like you do in boxing.

          Promoters lost control of their own sport.

        • edub says:

          Dude what are you even arguing here. You’re like the chappelle show sketch where Black Bush tries to bring up any random fact he can find to distract from arguing about oil. The situations that you speak of has absolutely nothing to do with the discussion.

          “Is comparable to the Super Bowl? Or The World Series? Or the NBA Finals?”

          No I don’t believe I ever did.

          A Manny Paqcuiao boxing event is a showcase of Manny’s skills, and to a lesser extent the person he is fighting against. The World Series, the Superbowl, the NBA finals, the NHL finals, and the UEFA champions league finals are all showcases of the teams that take part in the event. Alex Rodriguez could get hurt right before the yankees make the world series, and 99% of the fans who were going to watch the games would watch anyway.

    • nottheface says:

      Pacquiao ‘s two fight with sold 1.9 million payperviews and 92,000 tickets to the Cowboys stadium. That’s $109 million in domestic revenue alone. And yet he is grossly overpaid at $32 million?

      “Sports thrive the most when the money is passed around more to help for th egrowth of the sport.”

      How is it being spread around in MMA? What we have is just the inverse where a small group of owners are making the money that the fighters are making in boxing.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        How is it being spread around in MMA?

        1) International Expansion.

        2) Increase of smaller weight classes on a larger scale. The WEC didn’t finance itself.

        3) Purchase of competition to pool all top talent into one organization. PrideFC, Affliction, WEC, WFA, & Strikeforce. Those weren’t purchased with Monopoly money.

        The money is being put back into the sport. It’s part of the growth cycle. When that slows down, not as much capital will have to be allocated towards these issues…. And more will be allocated towards fighter pay.

        As for Manny…. Once again…. Your missing the point. It’s not a dollar game. It’s a percentages game.

        Boxing is the ONLY sport that has this payscale…. Where so much money goes to so few people. David Stern’s great brain knew that for the NBA to become even more popular, that they would have to create stars. Which is why the NBA is what it is today and not like the NHL. People wanted to see Magic or Bird or Jordan. Those were stars. But you don’t see stars making so much compared to their counterparts. It’s still within a reasonable amount. And that is one of the reasons the NBA and other sports leagues function so well. They have the athletes pay in check. It’s fair. But it’s in check.

        Boxing promoters don’t. They lost control. If boxing was run by true businessmen like a David Stern or a Jerry Jones or the late George Steinbrenner….. You would never see the payscale like it is. Because a sport can’t thrive under it. But that’s why you see those minds in well functioning sports and you see people like Don King and Mr. EliteXC in boxing.

        • The Gaijin says:

          “And that is one of the reasons the NBA and other sports leagues function so well. They have the athletes pay in check. It’s fair. But it’s in check.”

          Which is why it’s rumored that 12-15 NBA franchises have accessed a line of credit from the NBA and we might have 2 teams (NOLA and Sactown) under league control before summer time! And Travis Outlaw makes $35mm! 🙂

    • Bob Mi says:

      In terms of actual pay per time spent “working” (length of games, matches, bouts, etc.). Brock made more than Pac on a per-minute basis. When factoring in time, drag racers and bull riders also fare well.

      • Chromium says:

        Could we not bring up this asinine argument please? “Working” includes all the time spent training (or practicing), that shouldn’t have to be elaborated on. This is not Sherdog.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    I think this is kinda cool. All of the champions in one place. I’m sure it will make for some very cool pictures. Only 1 more title belt needs to be created to really make that complete.

    • Jonathan says:


      I totally disagree with you here. The UFC does not need a super-heavyweight division just because guys like Fedor and Randy got beat by MUCH larger foes. Really, let’s give this topic a break, ok?

      ((for those who do not know, that which was written above was/is a joke))

      • The Gaijin says:

        Correct – no need for a super heavyweight division, just a cruiserweight division. 😉

      • Steve4192 says:

        I hope he was talking about flyweight.

        Shoot, I’d even be down for the UFC building a strawweight division, just so I could watch Rambaa Somdet.

        • Chromium says:

          I <3 Rambaa Somdet, but there is not enough talent out there for him to fight at Strawweight. I used to think otherwise, but he completely outclasses everyone else in Shooto, and the only other place developing solid Strawweight talent is the Philippines, and they still have a ways to go. They could still put Somdet in a hypothetical Flyweight division.

          Men's Strawweight is something that should be revisited in maybe five years.

  4. Oh Yeah says:

    Athlete pay in the other sports may not actually be in check. The owners were trading off operating income against their franchise value appreciation.

    As most additional revenue streams have been exploited by this point, franchise value growth will slow. Now owners will actually require substantial operating profits in order to justify their investments. If you own something “worth” a billion dollars that isn’t appreciating, breaking even is a pretty big failure.


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