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Incentives and Strategic Behavior of Professional Boxers




This paper studies the strategic behaviour of professional boxers in choosing the opponent and sharing the revenues generated by the fight. In professional boxing, a higher-ranked boxer has an upper hand in choosing his opponent among many challengers varying in popularity and strength. We build a three-stage model of a professional boxing fight/bout between the chooser and the one of his challengers to examine the strategic incentives of a chooser in sharing the purse in Nash Bargaining framework and exerting proper level of effort within a contest theory model. More importantly, we endogenize the choice of the opponent and thus the purse to be generated by the bout. We characterize the factors affecting the choice of an “optimal” opponent and the effort level exerted by the chooser and the opponent. One interesting result of the paper is that an older chooser who is ready to cash in his reputation tends to choose a stronger opponent, but puts little effort into the fight. On the other hand, a young rising “star” in the boxing market prefers a match against weaker opponents in order to minimize his risk of losing and to maximize his record of the “winning” outcomes along with market values.

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  • Akin, Zafer & Issabayev, Murat & Rizvanoghlu, Islam, 2021. "Incentives and Strategic Behavior of Professional Boxers," MPRA Paper 110595, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:110595

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jia, Hao & Skaperdas, Stergios & Vaidya, Samarth, 2013. "Contest functions: Theoretical foundations and issues in estimation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 211-222.
    2. David Chaplin & Ken Brown & John Harris, 2018. "The Power of Self-Promotion: Twitter Followers and Guaranteed Purses in Professional Boxing," Journal of Economic Insight, Missouri Valley Economic Association, vol. 44(2), pages 23-40.
    3. Murat Issabayev & Yessengali Oskenbayev, 2019. "Title or Money," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 39(3), pages 1912-1917.
    4. Rafael Tenorio, 2006. "On the Competitive Structure in Professional Boxing, Or Why the Best Boxers Very Seldom Fight Each Other," Chapters, in: Wladimir Andreff & Stefan Szymanski (ed.), Handbook on the Economics of Sport, chapter 37, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. David Chaplin, 2012. "Pay and Race in World Championship Boxing," Journal of Economic Insight, Missouri Valley Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 43-57.
    6. J. Atsu Amegashie & Edward Kutsoati, 2005. "Rematches in Boxing and Other Sporting Events," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 6(4), pages 401-411, November.
    7. Helmut M. Dietl & Markus Lang & Stephan Werner, 2010. "Corruption in Professional Sumo: An Update on the Study of Duggan and Levitt," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 11(4), pages 383-396, August.
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    More about this item


    Boxing; incentives; contests; opponent choice; bargaining; game theory;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory

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