By Ivan G. Goldman
You want super-exciting super bantams Abner Mares and Nonito Donaire to fight each other? Well, they’re both eager. Each is calling out the other. That’s why it’s time to put up the bat signal and call in real-life superhero Daniel Weinstein again. Who’s he?
Weinstein, world-renowned mediator and retired judge of the California Superior Court in San Francisco, has on at least two occasions successfully mediated quarrels between the two biggest promoters, Bob Arum’s Top Rank (which promotes Donaire) and Golden Boy, presided over by Oscar De La Hoya and Richard Schaefer (promoter for Mares).
One of the first things out of Donaire’s mouth after stopping Jorge Arce in the third round Saturday night was a challenge to Mares. And only last month Mares, 25-0,-1 (13 KOs), called out Donaire 31-1, (20 KOs) after crushing WBA bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno.
This isn’t like the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao superfight that never happened. Neither fighter is ducking the other. It’s the guys in suits who are jamming up the works.
In previous mediations one of the many issues Weinstein solved was just who promotes Manny Pacquiao. It was a much bigger money question than the skirmish over Mares and Donaire. Golden Boy thought it had legally pulled Pac-man into its camp in 2006 with a signing bonus. Not so fast, said Arum, who held a contract he said was still valid. Weinstein, after looking through all the paperwork, called it in favor of Arum, though apparently Golden Boy was awarded a financial sliver of Pac-man’s future promotions. When Weinstein takes over, he also handles all pending lawsuits between the two parties. Golden Boy and Top Rank usually have suits and countersuits filed against each other somewhere. They’re like the Hatfields and McCoys, only smarter, meaner, and better dressed.
Both sides trust Weinstein, and going though him is quicker, easier, and less cumbersome than taking these intricate issues through the courts.
You may recall that in March 2011, Golden Boy waved a piece of paper that said it had added Donaire to its stable. His contract with Top Rank, Schaefer said, was expired. Not so fast, said Arum — again. Eventually Weinstein was called in and Arum won that one too. Arum is a Harvard law grad. His contracts tend to be bullet-proof. Maybe kryptonite could crack them open, but not Schaefer.
Yes, the acrimony between these two promoters goes back through many years and millions of dollars. De La Hoya once referred to Arum as “the biggest Jew out of Harvard.” (He later apologized for the ethnic reference) One of the politer things Arum has said about Oscar is that he’s “dumb.”
Not long ago Richard Schaefer suggested that Golden Boy might allow Mares to face Donaire in a title unification bout if Arum lets Top Rank fighter Brandon Rios collide with Lucas Matthysse. Declared Arum, “You trade baseball players. You don’t trade fighters. This guy knows nothing about the sport of boxing.”
Actually, Schaefer’s idea was intriguing and sensible. That’s why Arum found it necessary to resort to his old refrain that Schaefer, because he used to be a Swiss banker, must be an imbecile when it comes to boxing. Well, Arum wasn’t born at ringside either. Before he was a promoter he worked for Bobby Kennedy’s Justice Department.
The fighters want to fight and the public wants to watch them to fight, and to paraphrase what Humphrey Bogart once explained to Ingrid Bergman, the problems of a couple of hard-headed promoters don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
Among other issues Weinstein would have to solve is the choice of networks. Arum despises Showtime boxing chief Stephen Espinoza, a lawyer who used to be on the Golden Boy legal time. Espinoza, Arum says, doesn’t return his phone calls. Well, that may be true. But a while ago Speaker of the House John Boehner wouldn’t return phone calls from the President of the United States. Yet these two — and they don’t like each other either — are negotiating again.
Time to rev up the batmobile.
Ivan G. Goldman’s boxing novel The Barfighter was nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Information HERE