If We Have Learned Anything From Floyd Mayweather, Devin Haney’s Decision To Vacate All Titles at Lightweight Maybe Sudden but a Smart Move Especially Financially

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Being a champion comes with costs, and more so if you hold multiple titles. It’s not only the mandatory challengers that you have to brush aside but also some chunk of your purse. The uphill task becomes tiresome and troublesome when you harbor ambitions like Devin Haney. He recently caught the boxing world by surprise when he relinquished his 135-pound titles ahead of his December 9 fight against Regis Prograis. It all started with Floyd Mayweather, and ‘The Dream’ has followed in his footsteps with his gutsy but smart decision.

When ‘Money’ let go of his titles weeks after defeating Manny Pacquiao in 2015 and collecting the undisputed label in the Welterweight division, it caused an uproar. While he justified his decision by calling himself “not greedy” and giving “other fighters a chance,” it was all about money. A few years down the line, he tried to impart the same wisdom to Devin Haney.
In August, Mayweather, now a promoter, suggested to Haney that he give up titles and stick to only one belt and keep it defending. The reason? To not shell out a fight purse percentage to pay the sanctioning fees. The American boxer-turned-promoter told Fight Hype, “Let’s relinquish these titles, pay one sanctioning fee and keep it moving. Keep defending your title. Why pay four sanctioning fees?”
Skills pay the bills, according to Mayweather, and he believed Devin had proved his mettle in the Lightweight division. He added, “I’m not knocking the different sanctioning bodies. Is it really about the belts, the money or both? I think it’s about both. But there has to be boundaries for certain things.”

The boundaries Mayweather hinted towards were the 2-3% sanctioning fees WBO, WBA, WBC, and IBF charge whenever there is a title on the line. There are too many belts and too many champions, and the trend of undisputed or unified champions proves to be a costly affair. Is it worth having multiple straps eating dust and having to pay a fee whenever you take those out?

Sanctioning fees that act as a stumbling block

The boxing world decries and bemoans champions for not chasing other champions and running away to unify titles. However, the boxing community is unaware of the fact that for every belt a champion holds, there is a sanctioning fee. “This is not good for the sport of boxing,” Mayweather once expressed to Showtime Boxing.

Devin Haney has saved himself a fortune by ceding away his titles. And he is not the first to circumvent the rule. Mayweather, in 2010, demanded that his fight with Shane Mosley not be for the WBA title so that he could avoid a sanctioning fee of $675,000 or 3% of his $22.5 million base purse. WBO stripped him in 2015 for refusing to pay a $200,000 sanctioning fee after he snatched it from Pacquiao.

Moreover, André Ward and Anthony Joshua have made their distaste for sanctioning fees known. The British fighter had paid almost $1 million to the sanctioning bodies after his 2018 fight with Joseph Parker. Therefore, for Haney, the decision was a no-brainer, as he had specified his intent to move up for some time now.

Devin Haney avoids the troubles of shuffling divisions

Haney has struggled with weight-cutting issues and a move to 140 pounds and then, depending on the result, to the 147-pound division. “When I’m making 135, I have to work out every single day. Two to three times a day. I can’t ever let my body rest, and going into the fight, I feel depleted,” the 25-year-old told the NY Times.

The San Francisco native wants to reign supreme in three weight divisions, and holding onto Lightweight titles only gave him psychological comfort. He could come down if he fails against Regis Prograis. But he chose to ensure he didn’t keep the division hostage to his ambitions. Haney wants to have the luxury to carve his boxing legacy and path, and holding the lightweight belts would have shackled him. That’s what Mayweather did. Keep winning, pay one sanction fee, and keep it moving.


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