Another year in boxing has
come and gone and while it was very eventful, it saw the continued “Cold War”
between its superpowers, Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank Promotions (who -
once again - did not cross paths and co-promote any events in 2013) thrive.
They have managed to coexist by existing in separate universes (Showtime
and HBO, respectively).
And guess what? Don't expect
to see any thaw in 2014.
Golden Boy CEO Richard
Schaefer told Maxboxing on Friday afternoon, “This divide is greater than ever.
I feel that [Top Rank Founder] Bob [Arum] wants to work with us when it's
convenient for Bob and when it's not convenient, he's basically just, ‘Forget
it.’ It's a very one-sided approach. I think the way Bob has treated us and
talked to us and has basically treated us, I have no interest whatsoever to
work with him. Zip. Zero.
“For me, they can do
whatever they want to do over there at Top Rank. I couldn't care less but I
have no interest to work with them.”
However, it's interesting
that a few days ago, Oscar De la Hoya and Arum had this exchange on Twitter:
Thank you Oscar. Wish you and Millie a merry Christmas RT @oscardelahoya:
Mr. Arum on behalf of my family and I, we wish you happy holidays
But largely, the “Golden Boy”
is a figurehead of the company that bears his silhouette as its logo. It's
Schaefer who really runs the company on a day-to-day basis and makes the big
decisions. In the past, Schaefer had talked of working with Top Rank on certain
fights. Nobody is saying these companies have to like each other. Certainly
Arum and Don King never saw eye-to-eye on many things in the past but when it
benefited them financially, they would co-promote events. So when did Schaefer
come to this realization that Top Rank is persona non grata to him?
“Well, when you try to fix a
relationship and you reach out - and I have written Bob letters in the past. I
have reached out to him and treated him with respect because, y’ know, because
I'm told that you have to treat the older people with respect and I did that -
but then you keep trying and trying and trying but you're being ignored and
treated like sh*t, at one point you sort of say, ‘Oh, OK; I get it,’” explained
Schaefer. “The guy doesn't want to have a relationship with us so let’s just
move on. It's sort of like three strikes and you're out and that's sort of a
business philosophy of mine too: three strikes and you're out.
Schaefer continued, “If
somebody does something negative or hurtful or against you, then OK, maybe it
was a mistake and then if they do it, again, then you say, ‘Well, let's give
them another chance.’ But then after the third time, you have to realize that
it's just not a person you want to be associated with or you want to do
business with because they just don't have the integrity you have and at one
point, you have to move on. And even if it's people where you say, ‘Actually,
the guy’s a fun guy to be around,’ or whatever - which Arum is - but it's just
not somebody I want to be associated with or have anything to do with because
it's three strikes and you're out.
“And with him, I think it's
more like five strikes or 10 strikes.”
Yeah, this Swiss banker is
anything but neutral when it comes to this issue or when it comes to any
possibility of a fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. “Mayweather
just gave an interview to FightHype.com (http://fighthype.com/news/article15840.html) where he was
very clear - and he's been clear before - all of these people who ignore that
Mayweather is his own boss. Mayweather says when, where and what and all those
people keep ignoring him and are drinking the Top Rank Kool-Aid and when Arum
comes up with these stories that how great of a relationship that he and [Top
Rank President] Todd [duBoef] have with Floyd. I mean, this is bullsh*t. I said
it before that [Mayweather] has no intention to ever work with Top Rank and
Arum again and he said it again. He made it very clear he will never work with
them again and so what does that mean?”
It probably means any talk
of this fight, for now, is just mental masturbation.
“What that means is that a
Pacquiao fight can only happen if Pacquiao is a free agent and if he is a free
agent, I believe such a fight can happen easily. I have no idea what his
contract is but as long as he is not, it's not going to happen,” stated
Recently, Arum has made
comments saying a long-awaited Mayweather-Pacquiao fight could be negotiated.
Perhaps he's saying this with the realization that his well of possible “Pac-Man”
opponents at Top Rank has run dry. On the flipside, it could easily be
argued that if Mayweather/Showtime/Golden Boy is propping up Amir Khan as their
next B-side, perhaps they are also running a bit low in that department.
“Yes, absolutely,” agreed
Schaefer. “I think HBO has done great fights; Showtime has clearly caught up.” They
were so behind HBO and in the opinion of many networks and fight fans, overtaken
HBO. Maybe not as it relates to viewership numbers and HBO's hanging their hats
on those viewership numbers and I would hope that they have higher viewership
numbers because they still have a subscription base which is 25-to-30
percent bigger than Showtime's subscription base. But there was actually an
interesting article in Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2013/12/13/floyd-mayweather-sparks-blockbuster-year-for-showtime/),
which stated that if you look from 2008 to now, Showtime's subscription base has
gone up by like nine million while HBO has stayed flat.
“So there's obviously a
shift going on but both companies have realized that boxing is important to
their subscriber base. That many of their subscribers are subscribing to the
respective networks because of boxing and as a result, both companies have
allocated a significant budget to buy fights. I think that's great to have two
big buyers of boxing at that level. It's better than having one. So I think
that competition is good for the sport. It's obviously good for the fighters,
good for the fight fans and the competition has absolutely led to both networks
wanting to outdo each other and the beneficiary is the sport and the fans and
the fighters,” continued Schaefer, who also adds that this has been good for
everyone's bottom line.
“The same is true not only
with the networks with HBO and Showtime but it's true as well to a certain
extent in the foreign marketplace where you have competing networks in markets
where you have Televisa and Azteca in Mexico for example. You have
BoxNation and SKY in the U.K. and on and on. So you see these competitive
environments not only in the U.S. but internationally as well. You see it with
the sponsors, Corona against Tecate. So you see it at every level and I think
competition is good and you see it obviously with Golden Boy and Top Rank,”
reasoned Schaefer. “So there's nothing wrong with competition. I think you as a
media member can see it as well. I think there's more enthusiasm, more zip,
more energy in the sport than it has ever had and that I think is a good thing.”
Schaefer makes some salient
points. Having more competition in the marketplace is a good thing for everyone
involved. Having more entities interested and bidding on the sport is
unquestionably a positive development. But the reality is boxing fans
ultimately care about the product that's put into the ring. 2013 saw both sides
(Golden Boy/Showtime and Top Rank/HBO) try to put their best feet forward but
when the two major carriers of talent simply refuse to ever put their fighters
in the ring together, can you really say you are getting the best fights
possible over the long run?
Boxing is now fractured along
the lines of the WCW and WWE, where you essentially have two federations with
no hope of interleague play anytime soon. Competition is one thing; separation
is another. How sustainable is this business model?
Schaefer answers, “Well, you
look at our stable, I can give you fights for the next few years which are
exciting fights, big fights, fights that fans want to see and you look at 2013,
it was arguably one of the best years for boxing and why? Because there were
exciting fights happening. And as long as that continues, yes [it's
More than ever, boxers need
to be more cognizant of who they sign with, according to Schaefer.
“As fighters are becoming
free agents and it's not just on Top Rank's side - but it's on our side - as
well, fighters might be picking certain promoters because they feel that for
their particular weight class, this particular promoter has bigger fights. So I
think you might see a shift in that regard,” he points out. “So there might be
fighters with Golden Boy who might be leaving Golden Boy because they feel they
can get bigger fights in a particular weight class over at Top Rank, DiBella [Entertainment]
or whoever. And vice-versa, there might be fighters at Top Rank or at other
promoters when they become free agents, they feel that Golden Boy has more
opportunities to offer within a respective weight class.
“So I think that the free
agency market is going to become more important in these years ahead.”
Because the more things
change, the more they will stay the same, it seems.
Thought the latest episode
of “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley” was a solid effort...Here's Oscar Valdez's
fight from this past weekend in Tijuana: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgGHwjPYnmA...As
long as there is Russia, Roy Jones might never retire...Is this the end for Rex
Ryan in New York? Honestly, I like him. The guy is fun and quotable...“Riverboat”
Ron Rivera has gone from being on the Carolina chopping block to perhaps “NFC
Coach of the Year”...Really enjoyed ESPN’s “30 for 30: Youngstown Boys.” The
personal transformation of Mo Clarett is remarkable...
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