Mauricio Sulaiman column: The Art of Matchmaking
The key element in boxing has been and will always be matchmaking. As simple as it may sound, it is extremely complex and requires deep knowledge, dedication, passion and most importantly empowerment and ability to make decisions.
Who fights who? That is the key for success for a promotional company. A good match is what every single fan wants to see, whether it is a 4-rounder or a world championship fight.
All promotional companies should have a matchmaker on their staff, a dedicated strategist to bring ideas and plans to the decision makers. Unfortunately, today’s reality is that there is a crisis un matchmaking all around the world .
Most boxing fight cards are put together to keep the company’s fighters, to build records and to position them to jump at the first world title opportunity. One can look at the bout sheet and know which fighter will win on 90% of the fights, just a matter of how it will happen. This is bad for the sport as fans don’t get to experience the greatness of the sport, but most importantly, it is dangerous for the fighters, a mismatch increases the risk of injury.
Boxing structure was much different decades ago. There were sites which would promote boxing cards regularly , such as Madison Square Garden in New York and Arena Coliseo in Mexico City. Such sites would have a matchmaker who contracted fighters through managers and the public got to see how a fighter would develope a career and become a star. Television changed the model and today there is a lack of structure in promotional companies of boxing, many promoters simply have the duty of making contracts, booking flights and hotel rooms and administer the event in the selected site for that fight card.
There are still many cases of pirates who abuse boxers and use them as merchandise, exporting their services to foreign countries, matching them against power forces and paying just a fraction of the real purse. There are still boxing jurisdictions that do not verify all details of the matches and authorize fights that should not be allowed to happen. There are late substitutions, last minute changes, last minute bouts that are allowed to take place …. It is everybody’s duty to participate and reject any wrongdoing as it only puts our boxers in higher risk.
Styles make boxing and that is where the matchmaker can become brilliantly important and a key for the success of a fighters career and the success of a promotional company.
I have seen, with positive hopes, that recently there have been matches put together in which the fighters belong to different promoters, that is when a good match happens. There is an urgent need for promoters to understand that fans are hungry to see the attractive fights and to bring the competition level up and to do that requires sacrifice and risks, but will certainly pay off with overall results.
The WBC has been working in a program named “mismatch prevention system” and this committee works with Boxrec to review, evaluate and authorize every single WBC affiliated championship . It has been a long process and it is still adjusting, but we are very satisfied with the 2 years it has been in place. The ideal world would see all promoters do something similar in order to contract fights and all boxing jurisdictions to authorize fights.
I can only hope that matchmaking will have a re-launching and that promoters would put attention and resources into such an important activity. Boxing needs the Bruce Tramplers of the future to participate in the rebuilding of our sport.