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Bob Arum on “downside” of being undisputed champion ahead of Kambosos vs Haney: “Terrible to pay 12 percent of your purse to these organizations”

Bob Arum points out that going undisputed may not be all it’s cracked up to be in some respects.

Bob Arum doesn’t know that going undisputed is all it’s cracked up to be
Bob Arum doesn’t know that going undisputed is all it’s cracked up to be
Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is in Australia for this weekend’s George Kambosos Jr vs Devin Haney bout, which as has been noted many times in the last week in the build-up, is for the undisputed lightweight championship of the world. Arum had some thoughts on that, and they weren’t entirely the “hype the fight” variety.

“It’s gonna be a really good card, a great, great event,” Arum began at the final press conference.

“I wanna talk just a little bit about being undisputed. That sounds great. You have the belts from every organization. But there’s a downside to it, because there are four organizations. Each one charges the fighters three percent.

“So now, if they’re undisputed and there’s four belts, that’s 12 percent. That’s a lot of money to take out of a purse, right? But that’s what it is. There is, like everything else in life, a downside. Wonderful to be undisputed, terrible to pay 12 percent of your purse to these organizations.”

It may be a rather sobering thought for some when it comes to the entire process of going undisputed, and what fighters are giving up to chase the distinction. Specifically, you know, their money. And it’s surely a notable reason we haven’t seen all that many fighters go after it over the years, though in the last couple, we’ve seen a lot more undisputed champions crowned in boxing.

Right now, we’ve got undisputed champions at super middleweight (Canelo Alvarez) and junior middleweight (Jermell Charlo) on the men’s side, with Josh Taylor recently giving up the WBA 140 lb title to lose undisputed status there, which many felt he should have lost entirely in his last fight.

On the women’s side, Franchon Crews-Dezurn is undisputed at 168, Jessica McCaskill at 147, and Katie Taylor at 135. Claressa Shields, who has gone undisputed at 160 and 154 in her career, will go for it again at 160 when she fights Savannah Marshall in September.

As a simple fact, Arum’s not wrong. There’s a literal price to pay for the honor, and fighters have to decide if it’s worth it. And aside from the money the fighters are charged to fight for these belts, having four belts mean you’re also eventually going to have four mandatory challengers. It is, frankly, a lot to put up with.

Boxing fans hype it up, as do media, and there are, of course, several fighters who themselves like the idea of going undisputed and the ability to say they did something that is special, but kind of only because everyone in boxing — including Arum — has played ball with four sanctioning bodies and legitimized them as capable of crowning “world champions.”

Listen to our Kambosos vs Haney preview and more on this week’s podcast!

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