Some people believe that boxing is dying a slow death as theUltimate Fighting Championship (UFC) gains prominence among the masses as a newer form of fighting. But not Oren Hodak, who has a plethora of experience in representing UFC fighters and recently made a switch to focusing on serving as marketing agent for professional boxers.
Hodak found his way into boxing by chance. One of his UFC fighter clients happened to train at the same gym as professional boxer Errol Spence Jr., who has amassed a record of 21 wins and 0 losses, with 18 knock outs. The UFC fighter suggested to Hodak that he watch Spence fight; Hodak watched a couple of fights and was hooked.
"He smoked the guy," said Hodak of Spence's performance. "I noticed both guys had almost no sponsors on their shorts and then Spence had nothing on his shorts in the next fight."
Hodak made a comment that if Spence is the real deal, then he was missing out on a big opportunity.
Boxing managers are generally not interested in sponsorship.
The biggest professional boxers have managers. For instance, Spence works with Al Haymon, who also serves as manager for boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. Hodak's guess is that Haymon doesn't touch on the marketing/sponsorship side of the business.
"When I talked to Errol's trainer, it sounded like in boxing there aren't guys with the expertise or Rolodex or hustle to find the marketing or sponsorship deals," explained Hodak. "The managers in boxing are more so manager/promoter, hyping up athlete and booking fights, but not working on the marketing and sponsorship side probably because the big dollars aren't there and it's a harder grind."
Hodak provided a hypothetical to explain the current landscape of marketing professional boxers.
"Let's say there's a $100,000 fight purse and manager gets 10%. To make that $10,000 in sponsorship, you will have to find $50,000 in sponsorship. Getting $50,000 for even a high level UFC fighter back in the day isn't easy. That could be 10 companies at $5,000 a pop. People aren't just signing up on $5,000 deals with one call or one email," said Hodak, based on the presumption that marketing agents are receiving a 20% commission on deals secured.
Why Hodak has hope with Spence after years marketing UFC fighters.
"I've built up these relationships over the years with companies wanting exposure for their brands," saidHodak. "Errol [Spence] is former Olympian and currently undefeated. That's kind of been my hook. It's obviously a good business to partner with someone with an Olympic background who is not getting in trouble. Obviously, [Conor] McGregor's hype and smack talk brings eye balls, but at the same time you don't want someone nonstop talking smack."
Hodak has worked with Spence for 3 fights thus far and notes that Spence isn't desperate like a UFC fighter can be; he doesn't feel the need to take small deals at a couple grand per fight.
"It's felt like boxers aren't as desperate as UFC fighters and don't need to do the very small deals," added Hodak.
Hodak is prepared for the long haul.
When asked why Hodak is entering the world of professional boxing as it appears to be taking a backseat to UFC, Hodak responded that he thinks that boxing is actually making a comeback, albeit it may be a slow process. He cited specifically to Spence's last fight bringing in 5 million viewers.
"I'm not opposed to grinding it out for a couple of years," saidHodak. "There's not a huge amount of money in it for me now, but as a long-term play I think I can bring in some big names. For instance, I brought in Bass Pro Shops and Reebok for UFC's Johny Hendricks. In due time, a big fish like that will land. Right now, we're not killing it but we're doing pretty good."
Hodak's hope is that there may be some plays for major brands to associate with Spence after his next fight on May 27 in England against Kell Brook, who has a 36-1 record. Hodak is also representing 1 other boxer and says there are a couple others that he thinks Spence will connect him with in the future.