If the mandatory fight between junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson and No. 1 challenger Zab Judah takes place, both will be fighting for far less than expected.
Headbangers Boxing, run by Barry Hunter, Peterson's manager and trainer, was the lone bidder at Tuesday's IBF purse bid and won promotional rights to the bout for just $50,000, the minimum offer allowed.
That means Peterson, as the titleholder, is entitled to $37,500 (75 percent) and Judah, as the challenger, would receive just $12,500 (25 percent).
Peterson made $650,000 for his successful challenge against Amir Khan in December. Former three-time junior welterweight titlist Judah, also the former undisputed welterweight champion, has made millions in his career. For his previous fight, a ninth-round knockout of Vernon Paris in March in the title eliminator that earned him the mandatory shot against Peterson, Judah made $25,000.
For multiple reasons, it remains to be seen whether the Peterson-Judah fight will take place.
There is no television deal in place for the fight, and the major networks have not shown any interest. Also, Peterson could have trouble getting a license because of his positive drug test that forced the cancellation of his May 19 rematch with Khan.
Even if Peterson is licensed, he has emerged as a possible opponent for welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr. in an HBO main event Dec. 15. That fight would be a rematch of Bradley's near-shutout decision victory in 2009, when Bradley was defending his junior welterweight title.
Peterson would make hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight Bradley, given the seven figures HBO would pay to televise the fight. So if Peterson lands the bout, he could give up his belt and take the fight with Bradley instead of fighting for a much smaller purse against Judah.
If Peterson-Judah does happen, Hunter told the IBF that it would be in November or December and take place in Peterson's hometown of Washington, D.C., according to IBF championships chairman Lindsey Tucker.
"The fight must be done in 90 days, or by Jan. 2, 2013," Tucker said.
Despite the slim purse, Judah, a promotional free agent like Peterson, said he would accept the bout.
"My thing is I've been around a long time and financially I'm OK in life," Judah told ESPN.com. "I know that I need that title for the Zab Judah train to stay afloat. So we're gonna be there. We're coming to D.C., with a game plan. I'm in top shape right now. You can ask anyone in the gyms in Las Vegas. I've been killing guys in the gym.
"We are in. I know the bigger picture. I know what Zab Judah winning means. I said I ain't doing this only because of the money. I'm fighting because I still love the sport and I love what I do, and I know I'm good at it. I'm doing pretty fine in life. I'm not starving. I ain't never worked in my life. Boxing is all I ever did and I live great and every time my back is against the wall, like with this here fight, I pull it out."
Judah (42-7, 29 KOs), with many ups and downs in his career, claimed a 140-pound belt for the third time in March 2011 by knocking out South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza in the seventh round to win the vacant belt. But in his July 2011 first defense, Judah, a New Yorker now living in Las Vegas, was knocked out with a body shot in the fifth round by Khan in a title unification bout.
Written off by many after the loss to Khan, Judah rebounded to take out previously undefeated Paris in surprisingly easy fashion to earn another title shot.
"I'm ready for this fight," said Judah, who turns 35 on Oct. 27. "I don't know if Peterson is ready. I'm here to show everybody that I'll still reign. I know what I gotta do even with my last performance (against Paris) being great. I was disappointed with that purse. I was mad. I wasn't going to do the fight. But it wasn't about money. I live to do what I do. I know I can fight and I know where my mind is at. I'm doing things right. It's the same thing with this fight with Peterson."
Peterson, 28, has not fought since his split decision upset victory against Khan. They were due to fight a rematch in Las Vegas on May 19. However, 10 days before the fight, it was disclosed that Peterson had tested positive for synthetic testosterone, a banned substance, during a random drug test. During negotiations for the fight, Peterson asked Khan to accept random urine and blood testing in the lead-up to their rematch.
Because of the positive test, the fight was canceled. Eventually, Peterson was stripped of one of his alphabet belts but allowed to keep another one.