Ahead of the big fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, Steve Delo reflects on the similarities between pensions and boxing and the issues common to both

Back in 2009, I wrote an article about longevity and pensions saving. My theme was the sport of boxing and I examined how the so-called Greatest Prize in Sport - namely the Heavyweight Championship of the World - was being contested by increasingly aged fighters.

Boxing-index

Looking at the ages of fighters who won the title from America’s Jack Sharkey in 1932 up to the Klitschko brothers in 2009, the statistics showed that the average age at which a champion fought his last title fight had increased from 29.5 years old to 33 years old and beyond.

My assertion was that this was consistent with the pensions theme of people living longer and being productive at older ages. I then ended the article talking about the General Election that was looming in a few months time and made the following prognostication about Gordon Brown’s chances of staying in office:

“Heavyweight champions may be getting older but I suspect that British Prime Ministers are set to get a whole lot younger. And it may well be such a younger Prime Minister at the General Election after the next one - maybe in 2015? – who discovers that financing a long living population has finally emerged as a major vote winning/losing issue. Let’s get ready to rumble…”

Pensions Ministers encouraging a splurge on luxury motor cars? Goodness me, no!”

I was sort of right – pensions has bounded up the chain of vote winning/losing issues over the last Parliament. Of course, the nature of how pensions has hit the headlines could hardly have been predicted. Scrapping annuitisation? Missed that one. Slashing the lifetime allowance? Nope. UFPLS? Do what?! Pensions Ministers encouraging a splurge on luxury motor cars? Goodness me, no!

On the subject of expensive motors, one of the planet’s more prominent acquirers of automobiles is Floyd “Money” Mayweather, currently regarded as the top boxer in the world and proud owner of a $35 million car fleet (there may be a jet in there as well!).

As I write, Floyd is only days away from the most lucrative prize fight in history, against legendary welterweight rival, Manny Pacquiao. This superfight further reinforces the assertions I made in 2009; Pacquiao is 36 years old, Mayweather 38. These are ages well beyond those of the elite fighters of yesteryear.

Interestingly, another pensions theme has crawled into the world of boxing”

35 years ago, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran were the equivalent peak welterweights of their day – Sugar Ray was 24, Duran (by then considered a veteran) 29. A more recent mega fight at the same weight in 2000 involved “Golden Boy” Oscar De la Hoya (age 27) and “Sugar” Shane Mosley (28). Manny and Floyd are stunning examples of how things have changed.

Interestingly, another pensions theme has crawled into the world of boxing. With under a fortnight to go to the main event in Las Vegas, the boxers had allegedly not yet signed the contracts for the fight. I suspect the promoters and TV companies will have been getting very edgy about this rather large gap in the documentation.

Of course, in pensions, we are used to doing many things, including adapting schemes for new DC flexibilities, without the regulations being published but pressing forward on a wing and a prayer! Who said pensions skills won’t be transferable when the DB gravy train comes to the end of the line?

One vehicle that sits impressively in Mayweather’s fleet is a £1.5m Bugatti Veyron. It is a car that my eldest son – aged 10 but already extremely imaginative with my cash – continually harps on about. “Dad - when you get a new car, get one of those!” he proclaimed recently.

Alas, some things may have changed since my 2009 article but the pay scales for the poor old independent trustee have not!

Steve Delo is chief executive of PAN Governance and former president of the Pensions Management Institute