Golf and boxing: could they be two more different sports? Both have been around for centuries, but on opposite sides of the class spectrum: golf has historically been (and, some might argue, currently) reserved for the "gentlemen" of society, a highly exclusive pastime that has long prided itself on his decency and decorum. , sports executives play when discussing a deal. However, boxing was the most common sport for poor, immigrants waiting for a way out in the 19th and 20th centuries. Barbarian, dark, bloody: everything that golf is not and was not, is and was boxing.
And yet, we are at an interesting crossroads right now, as the two sports have come together in their professionalization and monetization in boxer Jake Paul, 25, and PGA legend Phil Mickelson, 51. years.
Paul, a former vlogger who rose to fame before becoming a professional boxer in 2020, has launched a "social impact" campaign that includes calls to share a higher percentage of the UFC's profits with mixed martial arts fighters, as well as better health benefits for those fighters who are at high risk for CTE due to the nature of their sport. He offered to sign a one-fight deal with the UFC if demands were met and publicly challenged UFC president Dana White's mistreatment and underpayment of fighters. And while the UFC is a mixed martial arts promotion company, not to be confused with boxing, the two are similar in that they both practice martial arts and therefore both pose a decent risk to the physical health of his athletes.
Paul's pre-existing fame has brought new viewers to boxing (many of whom want to see him get spanked), and since his non-boxing activities provide an outside source of income, Paul is in a unique position. to be able to do it. he used his influence to go after the top promotion company in mixed martial arts, which many fighters were reportedly unable to do for fear of retaliation.
"As time goes on, the pressure on the organization will increase, especially with the voice and noise of someone like Jake Paul," boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said on The MMA Hour. "Jake Paul is a mess for these guys... I think he's on a mission."
Meanwhile, veteran golfer Mickelson, who is 51 and chasing a US Open victory to complete his Major Grand Slam, told Golf Digest he was extremely unhappy with the PGA's exploitation of players and the " insufferable greed" of the association. Amid rumors of a Saudi-backed rival league called the Super Golf League designed to steal big names from the PGA, Mickelson's name keeps coming up. He seems to think there is a chance that SGL will give the PGA some incentive to return media rights to golfers, which Mickelson described as the "biggest" of "many problems" with the way the PGA returns media. income to golfers distributed by players.
"It's the insufferable greed on tour that really opened the door to other opportunities," Mickelson told the magazine. “Take this ongoing Netflix project. Neither player collects. But you pay a lot of money for the tour.”
Similar to Super League Golf, Paul's demands open up the possibility of a competitive league that could truly challenge the dominance the UFC has achieved in the sport of mixed martial arts, to the point where the most successful athletes are essentially seen forced to work. within a single organization to continue your success. And when he says, well, that's how all sports work, he's right, but there is a distinct connection between golf and MMA that sets his athletes apart from those in other popular sports.
Both the PGA Tour and the UFC use an independent contracting model, which means athletes are expected to pay for their own travel, lodging, training, tickets and more. They also rely on prize money rather than entry money, unlike, say, NBA or NFL players. Earlier this week, Forbes released a report that said most professional golfers "are just struggling to support themselves," despite the PGA generating more than $1 billion in revenue in 2019.