By Rick Reeno
A proposed heavyweight fight between Tomasz Adamek (49-2, 29KOs) and Bryant Jennings (17-0, 9KOs) is dead in the water. The fight was being targeted for an HBO date of November 2. Based on the details of the negotiations, the fight mainly fell apart due to money.
Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events, who promote Adamek and have a minor interest in Jennings, was attempting to finalize a deal with HBO. Jennings' controlling promoter is Russell Peltz.
According to Duva, the fight started crumbling when James Prince, the manager of Jennings, held his own discussions with HBO and Adamek's manager, Ziggy Rozalski. At some point during the discussions, Prince was able to convince Ziggy that a 50-50 split of the entire pot, including the money from Polish TV, was the best scenario for everyone involved. Sources with knowledge of the details have told BoxingScene there was between $400-450,000 dollars on the table and Jennings was being offered $100,000 of that pot.
Duva feels Ziggy was not in the proper state of mind when he discussed a 50-50 split with Prince. In the best interest of Adamek, she says a 50-50 split is unreasonable. Prince claims Ziggy agreed to a 50-50 split in more than one conversation.
Ziggy Rozalski was unavailable for comment.
"I had spoken to HBO, a while ago, about what I believed we needed to get this fight done, and I based that on my conversations with Russell and conversations that I had with Adamek, to see what everybody wanted and I put a number out there. I gave them a number, maybe in April or May," Duva told BoxingScene.com.
"Last Monday (August 26), I was expecting an answer. I kept telling them that I need to know because I have to know what I need to do with my NBC schedule, because I had a date on November 16th. I told them 'if you want Adamek and Jennings for the price that I offered it to you then you have to tell me and if you don't want to buy it that's cool, I have two dates in the fall [on NBC].'
"I get a call on Tuesday (August 27), that they need a couple of more days. And I said 'I can't, I just need to move forward and it seems you guys aren't interested.' On Saturday, this past weekend, I get a call from HBO around 7 at night and I say 'that's odd.' I was at a wedding and it was kind of loud. We talked again on Sunday and they said 'the figure you asked for, we've got it, would you reconsider because you can do that fight on November 2.' I said 'great, let me think about that and I'll give you an answer on Monday. I woke up on Monday morning and I swear to you on my kids' heads, on my dogs' heads, anything that is sacred to me in the world - that when I woke on Monday morning I thought we were making this Jennings-Adamek fight on HBO on November 2."
"I got on the phone with Russell and found out that Jennings wanted a 50-50 split, which I found incredible when you consider that Tomasz is a top-ten rated heavyweight who has been a top-ten rated heavyweight since he because a heavyweight in 2009, who has held two world titles, who lost to two hall of fame fighters in his entire career, who is well known star, who's last fight on NBC was watched by over 4 million people - that Bryant Jennings, with 17 fights, was entitled to half. I said that was ridiculous and when I asked HBO for money I wasn't basing that on that kind of a split. I felt that we already worked out what their split was going to be."
"Later I learned that over that weekend Prince had called Ziggy, when he was out fishing, and they had some sort of conversation. Then Prince - and this was prior to my conversation with HBO that they were going to buy the fight, quoted the price that HBO wanted to pay for it to Ziggy. And Ziggy, who is very lovely guy, was out fishing with his friends on holiday weekend and having a good time - was kind of bamboozled into doing a 50-50 split. I found out all of this and understandably I was not pleased because that is not how you do business. If was going to allow people to do business with me in that way, I would not lasted in this sport for very long."
According to Prince, some of the details are being exaggerated. He says the majority of his discussions were held with Ziggy, but he also finds nothing wrong in talking directly with the network. Prince says he was simply trying to get more money for his boxer because he disagreed with a 75-25 split in favor of Adamek.
"Ziggy is who I was talking to more than anybody at HBO. Me, Ziggy, Bryant and Adamek came together for a meeting of the minds. I told Ziggy that I was okay with it and he said that he would tell Kathy that he was okay with it. This is not a situation where we are jockeying for control. Lets get past the control jockeying and do what's best for the fighter and make the fight. Why are are we jockeying for control by pointing finders at the network and other people, who gave her what she wanted. It don't matter how she got it, she got it now. Is she mad because she couldn't get it and then it fell in her lap? What the difference does it make?," Prince told BoxingScene.com.
"She can't personally dictate who I talk to or them talking to me. There is not wrong with [HBO] talking to me. I have more business then just Jennings with them. I'm not that type of manager who don't communicate with networks. She can't tell me who I can talk to, the slavery era ended years ago. You can't hold it against a fighter for wanting to graduate from NBC to HBO."
"If she had any sense she would work with me and we would use all of our leverage to get things done. Why in the hell is she on this planet with where she has to be in control. I tell you'll why, because I can ask that question and answer. In my opinion, she's feeling that way because she wants to screw us. She's feeling that way because she wants to say 'I went and got this and you deserve this.' That's the whole mission behind this. Now I came on board and her screwing is going to be limited and she don't like it. I just want to do good business for my fighter, and anybody who has anything in mind that isn't good business for my fighter - they are an enemy and no friend of mine."
Duva claims that since Jennings brought Prince on board, the boxer's career has taken a hit because there are unrealistic demands being made by their side.
"Bryant Jennings fought five times last year. Prince became his manager at the end of last year of beginning of this year and he's only fought one time. he's canceled more fights than he's been in. He's cost him more fights than he's been in. That's not the way to build a superstar. I knew how to do it. Curtis Stevens and Sergei Kovalev did what was asked - fight the fights I give you, follow the plan, take the money that's available, be realistic, and get to your goal. And look where they are now. They are two guys who listened and got the fights. I work with people who can do that," Duva said.
"Jennings is Russell's fighter, he has to work his issues out with with Prince. In my view, to make somebody a major star and a great athlete - because that's part of this - is activity and taking the opportunities that are there. That's what Bryant Jennings was doing last year. He doesn't do it any more and that's too bad. Bryant Jennings went from being one of the hottest fighters in boxing last year to where nobody is talking about him anymore. When you're a young guy coming up, you take these kind of opportunities. When Floyd Mayweather fought Arturo Gatti, Gatti got the lion's share of the money - because he needed Gatti."
"When its presented to me that this guy has gone around me, worse than that - HBO is giving the figure to somebody's manage before I heard it - when I was told a few days earlier that there was no way they were going to offer me the amount I was asking for. I came up with this number based on what both fighters wanted or what I believed both fighters wanted. If would have known that they were looking for far more money, then I would have asked for more and then the fight would have never been made. Russell wants the Adamek fight badly for Jennings, he understood that this is the right fight at the right time for his fighter."
"We have a minor interest in Jennings, nothing major, we have no control - but I understood that this was a fight that made sense on a lot of levels. I think Bryant is a wonderful guy, I love working with him. I talked to Russell, who was certainly reasonable and understanding. When you have these opportunities you take them, but [Prince] would rather be unreasonable and have his guy sit."
Prince is still very open to making the fight, and wants to get his fighter on HBO, but says his boxer needs to be treated properly in terms of the money. He wants to come together with Duva and move forward in a positive manner to elevate the career of Jennings.
"Let's put on our business hats. I don't know if she wants put on hers, but I definitely want to put on mine where Bryant is concerned where he is able to graduate from NBC to HBO. That's where I know that I'm doing my job," Prince said.
"HBO was not negotiating the money with me. They never told me the exact amount of the money on the table, I found that out from Russell. What is there to be mad about? Because I pushed something her way? I helped push something her way. Why is she working against me when I'm working with her. Here I am on one side trying to persuade and pushing people to make her the best offer and she is made at people and me, thinking that we've done something wrong when that's not the case. The real case is us not accepting her 25-75 [split]. If we would have accepted the 25, then there wouldn't be an issue."
As it stands right now, Adamek will return on November 16th on NBC Sports. Duva offered Jennings a spot on the show against Vyacheslav Glazkov (15-0-1, 11KOs), which the Jennings side rejected. Duva has a December date with NBC Sports, which Jennings may appear on - if the two sides are able to reach an agreement on the opponent and the money.
Tags: Tomasz Adamek , HBO , Bryant Jennings