Why do big fights require a rematch clause?

By Boxing News - 02/14/2023 - Comments

By Alex Fesl: In the past, boxers would engage in a rematch if the fight ended in a close or a debatable decision. Likewise, fighters would engage in a rematch if the fight was very entertaining for the fans.

Today, rematches seem to be more of a mandatory agreement to guarantee more money for the promoters and the venue. These “rematch clauses” ultimately lead to unwatchable and completely unnecessary fights that do little to move the needle with boxing fans.
Hearing about the recent snag in negotiations for the potential fight with Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Ryan “King Ry” Garcia reminded me of some past unnecessary rematches. It makes me wonder if other pending big fights are being stalled due to rematch clauses not aligning with the powers that be.

Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr
This is the first fight I can remember hearing about a rematch clause. I believe this fight started the trend of rematch clauses for high profile fights. In this fight, Andy Ruiz Jr, a 25-1 underdog, shocked reigning heavyweight champion Anthony Johsua with an entertaining fight that ended with Joshua being stopped in the 7th round in the famed Madison Square Garden. Afterwards, fans learned that Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, triggered a contractual rematch clause. Several months later, Joshua took on a noticeably unmotivated Andy Ruiz Jr in a dull decision victory for Joshua in Saudi Arabia.

Haney vs. Kambosos Jr
Coming into this fight, fans were aware that contractually, Haney would be required to rematch Kambosos Jr if he were to win. If Haney were to lose, both Haney and Kambosos Jr would move on with their careers. Haney, taking a career risk, ultimately schooled Kambosos Jr with an easy decision victory in Kambosos’ home country. Most fans scored the fight a clean sweep, 12 rounds to 0, yet Haney was still obligated to return to Australia and take on Kambosos Jr again. Several months later, Haney returned to Australia and yet again schooled Kambosos Jr in a dull, uneventful match.

Canelo vs. Bivol
Last May, Canelo Alvarez took on Dmitry Bivol in what was viewed as another easy win for the pound-for-pound king, Canelo. To most fans’ surprise, Bivol delivered a very dominant and clear victory over Canelo. While judges scored the fight close, most fans viewed this fight as a lopsided win for Bivol. While it has not been announced yet, fans expect Hearn to force an unnecessary rematch come September later this year. Most fans would prefer Bivol to take on
Artur Beterbiev instead of a rematch with Canelo and the potential shenanigans from the judges.

Smith vs. Eubank Jr
Last month, Liam Smith knocked out Chris Eubank Jr in a not-so surprising fashion at Manchester Arena. Coming into the fight, most fans viewed this fight as a toss-up fight, yet the optics of the fight were that Eubank Jr was taking a stay-busy fight after the Eubank Jr vs. Benn fight fell apart. In the 4th round, Smith caught Eubank Jr with a good combination and finished Eubank Jr off to end the round. Immediately after that fight, Eubank was calling for a rematch and stating he had a rematch clause. Expect an announcement for an unnecessary rematch in the next few weeks.

With that said, boxing fans prefer organic rematches. Rematches that make sense or at least will potentially make for an entertaining fight. What the fans are being given now are forced rematches that fans have little interest in. I hope these rematch clauses go away in the near future so we can have better fights to watch. If they continue, we’ll just have to continue watching these dull matches or something else entirely.

Let me know in the comments what you think of rematch clauses.