One of the great truths of boxing are that its best are often a balance of gladiator and businessman. Related to that is the sad fact that boxers usually have more motives to not take on the best possible opponents, since losing a fight might damage their future earning potential, so risk must be weighed against reward at all times.
Yet nobody in the sport ever says “I won’t fight him. No way! I’m just plain scared I’ll lose!” Instead, boxing has more artful ways for a fighter to avoid a fight.
Jump ship to a rival promoter or network
If you need to avoid stiff opposition, especially if it comes from more than one opponent, the surest way to do so without looking like a complete wuss is to defect to a rival promoter, or better still from HBO to Showtime or visa versa. In recent memory, Lucian Bute and Adonis Stevenson both did this.
Cultivate your alphabet group
Playing politics is a sound way to make sure fighters you don’t want to tangle with never climb up the rankings ladder to become an inconvenient mandatory challenger.
Witness the way many fighters have forged close ties with the Suleiman clan, and thereby enjoyed an easygoing rankings climate. Julio Cesar Chavez was so good at this that he passed the advantage down to his son, JC, Jr.
Fake an injury
This stratagem is so obvious that accusations that so-and-so wasn’t really hurt or wasn’t really sick and just wanted out of the fight are tossed around as readily as a football on a Sunday afternoon. The stratagem works too, because proving the claim of illness or injury is fake is a tough one.
Demand ridiculous terms
Another strategy for getting out of a fight without actually saying “no” is to insist on terms that either the other fighter, the promoter or the network cannot possibly agree to. The usual tactic is for a boxer to “price himself out of the market” by demanding more money than he is worth.
Almost as common is to insist on a hometown fight or at least a home country fight in the case of international match-ups. Look at how Roy Jones avoided Dariusz Michalczewski by refusing to fight outside of the United States, or at all those Germans who stay safely at home, cossetted by their corrupt officials.