It just wasn't enough money, according to Nicholas Walters. Despite being offered a career-high purse of $550,000 to take on two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko, Walters ultimately balked at the offer citing that he would have nothing left after taxes and expenses. Here's what Walters had to say to RingTV on a move that many industry observers openly questioned.
"Lomachenko is one of the better opponents that we're gonna fight," Walters told RingTV.com on Tuesday. "We asked for a certain amount; they said no. They said only $550,000 was available for the fight and I think fighting Lomachenko for $550,000 with the tax we're gonna pay to the government and everybody, we actually go home with nothing. We took the decision; we're not gonna fight for $550,000."
Walters admits that he wanted a $1M purse to take the fight, mostly because he felt that the odds would be stacked against him. Walters says that there was no way he would be able to earn a decision from the judges fair-and-square, putting a tremendous onus on him to knockout Lomachenko as his only chance to win.
"You know what the odds are fighting a fighter like Lomachenko. You're not going to beat him on a decision; you got to knock him out. I fought (Jason) Sosa and I beat him clearly and they called it a draw. What do you think if it was Lomachenko? I would have a loss on my record. You have to know what the odds are when you take a fight, so the odds with taking a fight with Lomachenko, you have to knock him out to win. With me taking that odds, you need to pay me for that."
Adding to the negotiating melodrama, Lomachenko went on social media to sweeten the pot for Walters - offering to give him an additional $300,000 if Walters could beat him. Walters didn't bite. It was an offer that he didn't take seriously.
Speaking on the topic Walters quickly shifts the conversation to deride Lomachenko's professional accomplishments, saying that Lomachenko needs to beat someone like him to make a name for himself -- not the other way around. According to Walters, Lomachenko's entire career (which consists of a total of 6 whopping fights), has been littered with opponents who he's been expected to beat. Conversely, Walters says he's been winning fights he's not supposed to. That, for Walters, marks a stark contrast in both fighters.
So no, a marquee match-up between Walters and Lomachenko didn't come together, but Walters doesn't believe that his decision to pass on the fight hurts his business with either Top Rank nor HBO where he has been prominently featured. In fact, Walters says that because he always puts on a good show for the network, he fully expects to get another date on the premium network soon.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, for his part, vehemently disagrees with Walters position that he couldn't get a fair shake on the scorecards in a fight with Lomachenko. But he does agree that there's no hard feelings as far as business is concerned.
"Did Walters hurt himself with us or HBO by turning the fight down? No, he didn't violate a contract or anything like that, so that's fine, but, again, I can't afford to pay these fighters appreciably more than I'm getting from the television and that's what the television network felt the fight was worth."
Arum then goes on to blame Walter's lofty financial expectations on Al Haymon, who he essentially says created a culture of entitlement for fighters to get huge purses (especially for underwhelming fights). That threw the market into a 'tizzy' according to Arum. But he says that the difference between him and Haymon is that Haymon was financing his PBC operation with investors money and not out of his own pocket. Because of this Arum says Haymon was able to simply toss money around - but that it only caused him to blow through a half-billion dollars before having to snap back to reality.
So with Arum saying that the market is now reverting back to where it should be, he can't just subsidize fights and lose money because fighters like Walters feel like they deserve more than what the market will bear. It's just not prudent business.
So where does Walters go from here? He expects to be back on TV as soon as HBO has an opening. He's even keeping an eye on the winner of the upcoming Francisco Vargas-Orlando Salido fight.