Klitschko camp 'surprised' by $23m purse bid
Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and secondary titlist Alexander Povetkin both have bouts scheduled, but the purse bid for their mandatory bout was held on Tuesday and Russian promoter Vladimir Hryunov pulled a shocker, winning with an extraordinary bid of $23,333,330.
It is the third-biggest winning bid ever and far exceeded expectations. K2 Promotions, Klitschko's company, bid $7.13 million and Sauerland Event, which promotes Povetkin, bid $6,014,444 at the ceremony at WBA headquarters in Panama City. The minimum bid was $1 million.
"We all were totally surprised," Klitschko manager Bernd Boente told ESPN.com. "We only have to make sure that the money goes into escrow and that it's real. We are definitely willing to go through with it, but we have to make sure this is not one of those fake Don King purse bids [where he has defaulted multiple times after high bids]."
As champion, Klitschko is entitled to 75 percent of the winning offer ($17,499,997) with Povetkin due the remaining 25 percent ($5,833,333).
Asked if the purse was the biggest in Klitschko's career, manager Bernd Boente laughed and said, "By far." The total is also easily the biggest purse of Povetkin's career.
Hryunov announced that the fight, assuming Klitschko (59-3, 51 KOs) and Povetkin (25-0, 17 KOs) both win their interim bouts, will take place August 31. He listed three potential sites for the bout: Moscow, Berlin and Las Vegas.
"I think this fight will wind up in Moscow," Boente said.
Povetkin, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist from Russia, twice before has been the mandatory challenger for Klitschko, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist for Ukraine, but the bout did not come off because Povetkin wound up pulling out, even after K2 Promotions won both purse bids. But this time, K2 was surprisingly beaten.
Klitschko is scheduled to make his 14th title defence on May 4 when he faces Francesco Pianeta (28-0-1, 15 KOs) of Italy at SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany.
Povetkin is slated to make the fourth defence of his belt on May 17 at Croscus City Hall in Moscow, where he will face Andrzej Wawrzyk (27-0, 13 KOs) in the main event of a card that Hryunov, who is close to Povetkin, is promoting with permission from Sauerland Event.
Boente said he told Klitschko about the outcome of the purse bid, but that he was not overly excited despite the massive payday that awaits him.
"Right now the most important thing is that Wladimir wins his fight on May 4 against Pianeta," Boente said. "Wladimir got the news about the bid and he said, 'It's interesting, but to be honest I just take it as news. I am 100 per cent focused on Pianeta.' "
Hryunov was required to put down a 10 percent deposit with his bid - $2.3 million - as per WBA rules.
"If he doesn't go through with it, he loses the money," Boente said, noting that the $2.3 million would be split between the boxers and the sanctioning organisation.
In 1991, the late Dan Duva of Main Events bid a record $50.101 million to win the promotional rights to an Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson heavyweight championship fight.
Tyson, the mandatory challenger at the time, declined to participate in the fight because he was only entitled to 25 percent of the money. Ultimately, the sides negotiated a deal but Tyson wound up being injured and later going to prison for rape, and the fight did not happen until 1996.
Although Duva won the purse bid, Top Rank bid $40.1 million and Cedric Kushner offered $39.9 million.
In 1990, casino magnate Steve Wynn bid $32.1 million to win the promotional rights to the Buster Douglas-Holyfield heavyweight championship fight, beating the Duva bid of just more than $24 million.