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Fighters Wary as Oscar De La Hoya, Richard Schaefer Sharpen Legal Knives

By Ivan G. Goldman

Golden Boy, the largest promoter in the sport, lists 81 fighters in its stable, and if the company breaks apart after May 3, which is starting to look likely, all those fighters will need to find a home fast and avoid getting wounded in a raging legal knife fight.

You can bet managers and fighters are taking another look at just what their agreements say, if anything, about their obligations. The fighters include noteworthy names such as Canelo Alvarez, Danny Garcia, Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, and Lucas Matthysse.

There’s an old Russian saying that you can make fish soup out of an aquarium, but you can’t make an aquarium out of fish soup. Golden Boy shares some traits with fish soup.

We received confirmation of the rift within the company last month from Oscar De La Hoya, the president and founder, when he tweeted:

“Regarding all these rumors about my company and Richard Schafer, I will be setting the record straight soon.” Clearly if the rumors of a severe schism between Oscar and CEO Schaefer had no foundation, Oscar would have denied them, not promised to clarify them later. Consequently, they’re not just rumors anymore.

If the break comes, it probably will be after the huge Golden Boy promotion of Floyd Mayweather versus Marcos Maidana May 3 in Las Vegas. Although the company will try to make everything look calm as we head into the event, beneath the surface, attorneys for De La Hoya and Schaefer may already be tussling.

Much depends on the specific wording of Schaefer’s employment contract. As he looks for compensation and what amounts to business alimony, he might claim the right to take fighters with him to another entity, possibly one that involves reclusive “adviser” Al Haymon, the Godfather of Boxing.

Many but not all Golden Boy fighters have contracts with Haymon, a former music promoter who shares some traits with the slippery Rasputin, whose mystical advice to the Russian royal family preceded their all getting shot by Communist revolutionaries.

Haymon, according to mythology, runs his giant managerial enterprise out of his smart phone, which is impossible but fun to contemplate. He won’t talk to the media, yet he doesn’t seem to mind the limelight. If he didn’t want attention, he’d have chosen another line of work. His clout is enormous.

Floyd Mayweather’s Showtime contract was shaped with heavy input from Haymon. Floyd has no long-term deal with Golden Boy. Since he and Oscar despise each other, it doesn’t require much guessing to figure which way he’d jump. Mayweather attracts more money than any other fighter in the sport, but at age 37 he’s not the future. Other fighters on the Golden Boy list will rise in importance when he steps out of the ring.

The 81 fighters range alphabetically from welterweight Devon Alexander to heavyweight Deontay Wilder. Another category of fighters such as heavyweight Chris Arreola have deals with Haymon but not Showtime or Golden Boy. Arreola is promoted by Goossen-Tutor and May 10 fights Bermane Stiverne for the WBC title on a new ESPN fight series.

You can count on HBO to try to pick and choose among possible defectors, but unless there’s a huge shift in its thinking, the network wouldn’t be interested in fighters that stick with Haymon, the man who steered Mayweather and other HBO fighters over to Showtime.

The Golden Boy schism is related to bad blood between Golden Boy and Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions, which is allied with HBO. Oscar has hinted that he’d like to put fights together again with Arum, who promoted him for most of his boxing career. Under the rapacious, imbecilic system now in place, business rivalries carry far more weight than the needs of the sport.

sick Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in 2013 by Potomac Books, a University of Nebraska Press imprint. It can be purchased here

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