Michael Hunter’s one and only experience with purse bids revealed to him the hazards of being a free agent in boxing.
The heavyweight contender was criticized in the spring for turning down an IBF heavyweight eliminator against highly regarded Croatian Filip Hrgovic after the matchup went to a purse bid and was won by Hrgovic’s co-promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom, who, incidentally, was Hunter’s former promoter for a brief stretch. Hunter, however, had no promotional backing, thus, no leverage to negotiate a better deal for himself.
“Me being the lone star type of fighter, I was doing my own business when it came to the purse bid,” Hunter, 33, said on the SI Boxing Podcast. “It didn’t have to come to a purse bid. They were supposed to negotiate with me in good faith, which they had a hard time doing.
“Them being silent – meaning [co-promoters] Team Sauerland and Eddie Hearn – [they] didn’t really contact me until the end, when I wouldn’t have much time, much of a choice to pick. I was going to a purse bid, and me not having any backing or [being] under a promotional banner, they knew I wasn’t going to have any backing if it went to a purse bid. Or at least that’s what they thought.”
Hunter, a 2012 Olympian, says that was when Triller stepped into the fray. Triller, the music app that promoted the exhibition match between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. last year, made headlines earlier this February by winning the purse bid for the IBF lightweight title fight between Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos, beating out the established likes of Matchroom and Top Rank.
“Then [Sauerland and Hearn] got wind of Triller being involved,” Hunter continued. “At the time Triller was undefeated when it came to purse bids. I think at first they didn’t realize that anybody [else] was involved but when they found out who it was that’s when we had different extensions. It was extended for another 15, 12 days.”
But Hunter says that Hearn and Sauerland were ultimately able to coax Triller from submitting a bid.
“Eddie Hearn and Team Sauerland were able to reach out to Triller and kind of talk them out of bidding,” Hunter continued. “Eddie was the only one that bid. They said like they knew they were going to be the only ones that bid. Originally they weren’t. Triller was going to kick their butts when it came to that.”
In the end, however, the purse bid boondoggle seemed to have worked out for Hunter (19-1-1, 13 KOs). Instead of taking on Hearn’s offer, Hunter signed a multi-fight deal with Triller. On Aug. 3 he will headline against Mike Wilson (21-1, 10 KOs) on Triller’s new boxing series at the Hulu Theater of Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“I know that’s not really common to call other people and find out what they’re bidding and to try to talk them out of bidding, which [Hearn and Sauerland] ended up doing and it was a success,” said Hunter. “It just moved and shifted some deals and money my way. Shout out to Eddie Hearn and Team Sauerland.”