In six days, welterweight Chris Algieri will step into the ring at Barclays Center as the underdog against fast-rising former Olympian Errol Spence in a Premier Boxing Champions event. But a
financial dispute with Star Boxing promoter Joe DeGuardia has been a distraction in training.
Though the boxer from Greenlawn had agreed to a set purse, he says DeGuardia has not been forthcoming over what percentage of the total pot that payment represents. Algieri told Newsday he should be entitled to significantly more than 50 percent of the purse.
DeGuardia has responded by saying that Algieri wants to “look in my pocket” and that “it’s an attempt to renegotiate.”
Under the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, a federal law enacted in 2000, a promoter must divulge that information to a fighter in a bout of 10 rounds or more, but DeGuardia said he won’t provide that information until Friday’s weigh-in — his legal right — and has refused to answer Algieri’s requests for that information over the past two months.
As Algieri sees it, that is a “red flag” in a six-year relationship with DeGuardia that has grown contentious since Algieri upset Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO super lightweight title two years ago to reach a level where it’s possible to make life-changing money.
To date, Algieri and his team have not pursued any legal action.
“My issue is not the dollar amount, it’s the total package and the fact that he won’t share it with me,” said Algieri, who declined to reveal the purse figure he is receiving against Spence. “I was under the assumption that I would know this information and Joe and I, in good faith, would negotiate the terms.
“It’s a red flag to me. If everything was fair and straight, it should be no problem, especially when I’m legally going to get [the total dollar amount paid to DeGuardia] at the weigh-in. I don’t understand why it can’t be told to me now. I’d rather find out two months before a fight than 30 hours before. What are you going to do about it at that point? You’ve got to fight.”
DeGuardia is upset that Algieri has chosen to air their grievances publicly in what he regards as a tactic by the fighter and his attorney, Eric Melzer, to renegotiate a purse they previously signed to accept. Melzer was not available for an interview requested by Newsday.
“You assume when the lawyer and Chris sign off, you have a deal,” DeGuardia said. “Now, they want to ask, ‘How much are you making?’ They want to look in my pocket . . . To me, it’s an attempt to renegotiate. If he thinks he’s going to bully me into changing the deal, that’s not going to happen.
“I am in compliance with the Ali Act. The time element [to inform the boxer] is prior to getting paid. I give it to him at the weigh-in.”
The Ali Act
The Ali Act was intended
“to protect the rights and welfare of professional boxers on an interstate basis by preventing certain exploitive, oppressive and unethical business practices.”
Responding to a Newsday request for how it interprets the promoter’s obligation to the boxer, the New York State Athletic Commission replied by email: “Under the Ali Act, the required disclosure must be provided to the boxer in order for the promoter to ‘be entitled to receive any compensation directly or indirectly in connection with boxing match.’ ”
Since no one is entitled to get paid until the fight takes place, the timing of the promoter’s disclosure to the fighter is open-ended until fight time. Some promoters contacted by Newsday say they prefer to lay out all the financial details at the beginning of the negotiation with the fighter and his representatives, but that’s not always the case.
DeGuardia’s promotional role is that of a broker who provides Algieri’s services to a network or promoter of a show under a provision of services agreement that specifically sets forth all moneys that will be paid to a particular promoter and his fighter. It then is up to them to determine the split.
According to Algieri, He did not learn the actual split until the weigh-ins before his fights with Provodnikov on June 14, 2014, and with Amir Khan on May 29, 2015. He knew the entire amount of the pot prior to his fights with Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 23, 2014, and with Erick Bone on Dec. 5, 2015.
Algieri confirmed that he received $115,000 for Provodnikov and $1.67 million for Pacquiao, but declined to reveal his purse for Khan. Algieri said his purse amounted to 53 percent of the pot for Provodnikov, Pacquiao and Khan before he settled for 30 percent for Bone.
At this stage of his career, Algieri believes he’s entitled to better than a 50-50 split with DeGuardia. “I’m going in there to fight and people are paying to watch me fight,” Algieri said. “ I know other fighters who are making between 70 and 80 percent.
“I have to pay my entire team and pay for my training. End of the day, is [DeGuardia] walking away with more than me even if it is close to 50 percent? I don’t feel like I’m getting a fair shake.”
Pacquiao fight paid off
DeGuardia more than recouped his investment in Algieri in the Pacquiao fight, but he asserted the work he put into building Algieri’s name and positioning him for better fights should result in a profit.
“I’m proud of the success we had developing him,” DeGuardia said. “I put him on ESPN, Showtime, HBO, Spike TV and now NBC.”
Algieri said he agreed to help DeGuardia out by taking only 30 percent of the pot for his December fight against Bone so DeGuardia could pay off the final option owed to Provodnikov promoter Artie Pellulo, as a result of the title shot.
Algieri expected that to lead to more transparency by DeGuardia in negotiations for subsequent fights.
Under the Ali Act, a promoter is not allowed to take money from a fighter to satisfy his own obligations, and options on a fighter qualify as an expense owed by one promoter to another. But Algieri and DeGuardia agreed on the need to pay off Pelullo.
According to DeGuardia, the 30-percent figure Algieri said he received for the Bone fight is misleading. “I paid Artie to get rid of the third option,” DeGuardia said of his frequent promotional partner. “I took peanut money. I rolled the dice for Chris, and yes, Chris took a risk, too . . . Artie got the same as if [Algieri] were fighting Khan.”
Contacted by Newsday, Pelullo said: “Joe handled the negotiations with his fighter. I never got involved. My only involvement was with the Pacquiao fight.” As for whether Algieri received 30 percent of the Bone pot, Pelullo said he didn’t know the actual split.
An interim bout
DeGuardia noted that Algieri asked for an interim fight before the Spence fight because he needed more work with new trainer John David Jackson, who took over after the loss to Pacquiao. The promoter said Algieri made “more than the marketplace would bear” to fight Bone off TV on a Showtime undercard.
Algieri’s appearance on the April 16 “PBC on NBC” show was negotiated before the interim bout with Bone. Spence was not on the list of possible opponents at that time. When Spence’s name was added to the list of possible opponents, DeGuardia said Algieri demanded and received a higher purse than for any other available opponent.
However, Algieri still did not know the full amount being paid to DeGuardia as part of the provision of services agreement he signed. “My whole concern is: why won’t he tell me now?” Algieri said. “ Especially when I’m expressly asking him for it. I’m literally expressly asking for it over and over again. He won’t tell me.”
DeGuardia said he offered to renegotiate his contract with Algieri and his attorney to spell out the splits ahead of time, but they so far have declined. Such a renegotiation would involve an extension of a contract that DeGuardia said he “believes” goes into 2018.
DeGuardia added he also has one more “pre-negotiated fight” for Algieri after the Spence bout. Barring negotiations for a new contract defining future splits, DeGuardia said, “My position is we’ve already negotiated this [next bout].”
So there is no end in sight to the contentious relationship between Algieri and DeGuardia. In its email to Newsday, NYSAC indicated it can pursue disciplinary action against a promoter if there is a legal judgment or if it “finds sufficient evidence proving that a promoter failed to provide a mandated disclosure to a boxer as required by the Ali Act.”
To date, the state athletic commission has not received a complaint from Algieri or his legal representatives.