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A Fan's Guide to Boxing Arbitration

With the recent news of retired Judge Daniel Weinstein siding with Deontay Wilder in the arbitration of the dispute between Wilder and Fury over their contracted third bout,as first reported by Chris McKenna, a boxing fan might be left wondering, “What the hell is going on?”.

Have no fear, intrepid pugilist partaker, I am here to guide you through the mystic language of legalese in an easy to follow question and answer format. Let us begin!

What is arbitration and did Al Haymon invent it?

Arbitration is a legally binding dispute resolution mechanism. It is seen as a faster and potentially cheaper legal option over litigation(going to court). Arbitration has been around for thousands of years but its present use is for two or more parties to settle a dispute without having to resort to litigation.

When an arbitration clause is contained within a contract, this clause will outline how the parties can resolve any disputes that may arise during the life cycle of the contract. A third-party arbiter, which can be a single person or a panel of multiple people, will be agreed on by both parties to settle disputes before the contract is signed. This is seen as an advantage over the court system as an arbiter can be chosen and is not appointed like a judge. This gives all parties the chance to agree upon someone that is considered impartial. An arbiter is paid up front which also can reduce the cost of a dispute as opposed to litigation.

What does an arbiter do?

An arbiter will study the matter before them, listen to the arguments of both sides and considers the evidence they present to state their case. The arbiter will then issue a judgement that is legally binding and cannot be appealed except in limited circumstances that are not in play in this dispute between Wilder and Fury.

Can Fury ignore the decision? AJ vs Fury is in Saudi Arabia, lul!

While Bob Dylan once sang, “In Jersey, anything’s legal as long as you don’t get caught” there really is no avenue in which Fury, Top Rank, et al can ignore the decision of the arbiter. Any judicial court will consider the decision of the arbiter as if it was decided in a court of law and will hold the parties to that decision. If Fury tried to fight someone other than Wilder, injunctions could be served without Wilder’s team having to prove that Fury is in the wrong.

While Tyson Fury is a resident of the U.K., the question of whether an arbitration award could be held against someone that is not a citizen or entity of the country where the arbitration was held was decided back in 1958 with the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. This convention is also known as the ‘New York Convention’ and was a UN diplomatic convention that went into force in 1959.

All parties to this convention, which includes 164 of the 198 UN member states, have agreed to recognize the decisions of foreign arbitration within their own states. The U.S.,U.K. and Saudi Arabia are all parties to this convention.

While the royal family of Saudi Arabia holds considerable power within Saudi Arabia, it is highly unlikely they are going to break this convention for a boxing match. Saudi Arabia is attempting to attract outside investment and demonstrating that you will not adhere to foreign arbitration is not exactly a sign of confidence for foreign investment. Saudi Arabia also has trillions of dollars of investment around the world, they aren’t going to set a precedence that green lights others to break their deals with Saudi Arabia.

There hasn’t even been a confirmation that the royal family is involved in any site fee discussions other than claims by the very same promoters who have routinely made false promises in the media.

So what now?

It is more than likely the third fight will happen between Fury and Wilder. If you’ve been paying attention, both men have been in training before this ruling was made. Bob Arum has announced July 24th as the likely date for this fight to happen, in Las Vegas.

While it is always possible that they could avoid this legal obligation by getting Wilder to agree to surrender his legal right. I would think the Fury camp would have already attempted to get Deontay to accept a financial payoff in return for not proceeding with his arbitration request. If Deontay went through all this effort to make Fury live up to his contractual obligations, why would he step aside now?

But it is boxing, stranger things have happened.