It was in Panama that a deal was done for the Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury fight for the heavyweight championship of the world just four minutes before the ritual opening of the sealed bids for their clash. Well, that's the official story.
The deal will remain secret forever, a complex arrangement guaranteeing Fury and his promoter, Hennessy Sports, a fee without risk and at the same time leaving K2, Klitschko's promotional company, with the job of selling the fight. It took about three minutes for K2 to announce October 24 in Dusseldorf at the Esprit Arena, where the roof can cover more than 50,000 fans, as the date and city for the showdown. It is a wonder that representatives of as many as four other bidders (including Eddie Hearn) even bothered to travel to Panama City for the sham.
In the background at the ceremony in the WBA's Panama City offices was Russian businessman Vlad Hrunov and he had a whopping offer of $18 million burning a hole in his pocket. In 2013, Hrunov delivered Klitschko to Moscow to fight his last mandatory challenger, Alexander Povetkin. On that occasion Big Vlad paid $23m and gave Klitschko his highest purse.
Had Big Vlad won the purse bid, which is one of boxing's most entertaining rituals, then Fury would have walked away with a guarantee of $3.6m and Klitschko, with what I believe is his second highest ever purse, $14.4m. However, Klitschko is, like Floyd Mayweather, the promoter of his own fights, a man with a finger in every pie attached to the moneymaking process and that means it is hard to calculate just how much he makes for fights. He is said to have turned down an offer in excess of $4m from one German television company for the rights to screen the fight.
Hrunov, by the way, has 10 days to appeal the decision by the WBA to agree to the secret deal that was done between K2 and Hennessy Sports, both of whom had men in the WBA's Panama City offices. There is an "exceptional circumstances clause" that he could in theory invoke. Meanwhile, reports that Hrunov was late for the opening of the sealed bids are rubbish; he was in Panama City on the Sunday and the bid was Monday.
The fight now looks destined in the UK to be one of Sky television's pay-per-view offerings. However, it would need to do in excess of 1m sales to improve on Hrunov's offer, which was a guaranteed figure and not calculated against a percentage of pay-per-view sales. Fury's last three fights have been on BoxNation, including the rematch with Dereck Chisora last November and they were free as part of the monthly subscription fee. His fights before that were on terrestrial television in the UK.
Fury is now making plans for a long training camp in Ireland and Klitschko will be putting together his international team for his own training camp, which will probably be in Miami at some point before ending in Austria. Fury was once part of a Klitschko training camp, receiving pay, food and a bed but never once being asked to spar. "He just looked at me," Fury said. "They watched me all the time and they knew then they would have to fight me. I knew then that he didn't want to fight me. He has been forced to get in the ring with me."
Well, it's on, so enjoy it.