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Incentives and Strategic Behavior of Professional Boxers

AKIN, ZAFER and ISSABAYEV, MURAT and RIZVANOGHLU, ISLAM (2021): Incentives and Strategic Behavior of Professional Boxers.

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Abstract

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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