Saturday, August 9, 2014

(Sport) Golden Boy: Back on Track?

After the departure of Richard Schaefer, Floyd Mayweather effectively ending his business relationship with Golden Boy and the ominous long shadow of Al Hamyon over the company, its talent, and Boxing general, it looked like all the pieces were in place for Golden Boy to crumble right before our eyes.

However, in the last two months, Golden Boy founder and president Oscar De La Hoya has been making all the right moves in taking control of his company and getting fights made the public wants to see after years of the Schaefer, Mayweather and Haymon axis effectively ensuring that didn't happen thanks to Schaefer's and Mayweather tenuous relationship with Top Rank's Bob Arum and Al Haymon playing adviser to a large number of Golden Boy or Golden Boy affiliated talent including Amir Khan, Danny Garcia and Mayweather himself.

The Schaefer-Haymon connection has even landed Golden Boy in trouble as Kathy Duva, head of Main Events Promotions, sued Golden Boy along with Al Haymon and Showtime as Main Events thought they were cheated out of a Stevenson v Kovalev bout which was scuppered by Stevenson moving over to Showtime shortly after hooking up with Haymon.

However, Golden Boy, after years of looking like a glorified marketing machine for Al Haymon growing portfolio of fighters, have come up trumps as Main Events dropped the suit and Bernard Hopkins, WBA/IBF light heavyweight champion and part owner of Golden Boy, agreed to square up with Kovalev, a fight that will be aired on HBO. Hopkins had wanted to square up with the dangerous Stevenson but felt he was being played by his camp as “Hopkins’ suspect(ed) Haymon’s camp wanted to procrastinate setting up a bout with Stevenson so Hopkin’s would ultimately have to give up his IBF belt. Why? Because it was thought that Thomas Williams Jr, another Haymon fighter, would then be in line for it[1].”

The fight represents a major win for Golden Boy and another move to wrest control of its talent away from Al Haymon whose influence over the sport has been notable for all the wrong reasons with a string of his fighters avoiding real competition. The most disgraceful and blatant incident of this is set to take place today Between Al Haymon’s Danny Garcia and Ron Salka, who is a lightweight who is out of Garcia’s weight class in more ways than one.

Boxing fans have been screwed in the past when it comes to the best avoiding the best thanks to tribal beefs between the promoters and moneymen who run the sport but never has it been so brazen to the point that fighters, Mayweather being the main culprit of this new trend, bragging about avoiding opponents who can give them a run for their money.

However, things seem to be changing fast as the upcoming fight between Hopkins and Kovalev will the first time in over a year that a fighter on Golden Boy’s large roster has had a HBO aired fight. Ties between Golden Boy and HBO soured in lieu of a string of Golden Boy fighters, under the influence of Al Haymon, quit HBO to work with Showtime.   

HBO has always been good to Golden Boy and with Hopkins/Kovalev matchup, the healing process between the two can materialize. Golden Boy may have to come up with another great match up to shore up their relationship with HBO and according to comments De La Hoya has been making in the press that fight might be between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Miguel Cotto.  The fight would instantly be box office as both fighters have strong fanbases and have a similar come forward style that usually makes for a slugfest.

Should this fight take place, it may also help establish HBO once again as the home of boxing. It would also be a body blow to Showtime who’ve so far have been putting up cards (and PPV numbers) that are less than convincing, today’s Garcia v Salka matchup being the most poignant example.

Apart from mending fences with HBO, Golden Boy has looked to end the long running feud with Bob Arum’s Top Rank. This move is one of the reasons why  Schaefer left Golden Boy but in the long run it makes sense as it opens up the potential for some great fights.  

Even Mayweather, who in lieu of the departure of Schaefer, severed ties with Golden Boy, may end up having to work with Golden Boy to promote fights whether he likes  it or not for the time being as his imprint, Mayweather Promotions, clearly doesn’t have the machine in place to promote big fight nights independently. Golden Boy are currently co-promoting his upcoming showdown with Argentine brawler Marcos Maidana next month and may even play a role promoting his next and last fight after Maidana against an unnamed opponent.

In sum, Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy have spent years presiding over the death of boxing as a competitive sport that has become more pronounced with growth of the company in the last five years. However, with De La Hoya taking over the reins of Golden Boy with a fan focused approach at the heart of his strategy, recent moves suggest that this could be the start of a new golden era of epic fights that will once again re-establish boxing as the world’s undisputed combat sport of choice.

[1] S. Crose, 2014, Main Events No Longer Suing Haymon, Showtime and Golden Boy,

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