Don King doesn't have the greatest reputation in general, but in recent months (even moreso than recent years), King's negotiating tactics have been routinely called into question, with failed purse bids he's defaulted on for, notably, Chris Arreola vs Bermane Stiverne, and Marco Huck vs Ola Afolabi III.
Now, it's being reported that King is demanding a $2 million purse for Bermane Stiverne, as well as U.S. TV rights, if Stiverne is to fight Vitali Klitschko. Stiverne's dominant win over Arreola in April made him the WBC's mandatory challenger for the fight, but it's the sort of purse that Klitschko opponents -- particularly those who bring nothing to the table financially, which Stiverne does not -- just don't get. Vitali and Wladimir run the show, and everyone has accepted that in recent years, save for David Haye, and I guess Vladimir Hryunov.
Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KO) has made as good a case as anyone has recently to have legitimately earned a shot against one of the brothers, and I don't think there's really much against a Vitali-Stiverne matchup. Few would see Stiverne winning or even being competitive, probably, but he handled Arreola and made a statement. He's certainly done more than the likes of Manuel Charr, Dereck Chisora, Tony Thompson, Jean-Marc Mormeck, Francesco Pianeta, and Mariusz Wach.
Still, that doesn't mean that he's going to get $2 million to fight Vitali, who is the clear and really only money fighter in this fight. And King's idea to own the U.S. TV rights isn't necessarily bad, but it's not as if either HBO or Showtime have exactly been dying to air Klitschko brothers fights the past few years (or to work with King, whose depleted stable is barely hanging on), so who would he even sell it to? Epix? The Klitschko brothers already take their fights there by themselves. Bounce TV? Does he think Versus is still a thing, perhaps? Would he run it on PPV? Wait, yes, of course. PPV.
Anyway, there are two hopeful ways to look at this:
- Hopefully, there's a surprise and King gets his wish, by which I mean that Stiverne gets a great payday.
- Hopefully, this doesn't sink the fight actually happening. It's not like the WBC won't cater to Vitali here, and it's not as if King can actually win a purse bid against K2 for the full rights to the fight. I mean, he might win the bid, but he'd probably default.