Fool’s Gold: The demise of Golden Boy?
By: Kirk Jackson
When it rains, surely does it pour. The man referred to within the realms of boxing and entertainment as “The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya, along with his boxing promotional company (Golden Boy Promotions), are involved in many headlines as of late.
Headlines involving racism, alcohol and drugs. There are headlines featuring displays of erratic, irresponsible, behavior.
Behavior that is not acceptable for the president of a company. Things that tend to have outsiders questioning the future stability of Golden Boy Promotions.
Perhaps demise is premature and impulsive. De La Hoya may even borrow a quote from famed American writer Mark Twain in stating, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
But the recent series of mishaps and controversies involving De La Hoya, in spite of the success of Golden Boy Promotions in previous years, along with the overall success of De La Hoya as a businessman post-boxing career, suggest turmoil at Golden Boy headquarters.
With his recent DUI and subsequent arrest, along with other documented issues involving substance abuse, including a stint in rehab in 2013, it’s fair to suggest De La Hoya is battling many opponents outside the ring.
It’s difficult to pinpoint when the problems started to mount for De La Hoya; it’s hard to gauge the context of personal problems he’s dealing with and it’s unfair to De La Hoya to do so.
But from a business perspective, there may be a trail leading to this current collection of fires. There is great significance with the departure of Richard Schafer from Golden Boy Promotions. Schafer left the company unceremoniously in 2014.
Schafer, armed with business acumen partially gained from experiences as a Swiss Banker, co-founded Golden Boy Promotions with De La Hoya in 2002 and was a key figure into establishing Golden Boy as a brand and into an ever-growing empire.
The overall landscape changed since Schafer’s departure and the company as whole lost much of its luster. Gone are the days of Marco Antonio Barrera, Shane Mosley and Ricky Hatton, standing in arms with their pugilistic compatriot De La Hoya.
The shine that sparkled and ignited many demographics of fighter and fan alike is no longer present. Schafer was not solely responsible for all of the success, but was a crucial component.
The relationship with boxing rival/business partner/annoyance Floyd Mayweather is no longer present. However we want to define the dynamic nature of their relationship, we can’t ignore the fact they did great business together.
Take a look at the numbers from Mayweather vs. De La Hoya fight in May of 2007. Their bout had approximately 2,480,000 HBO Pay-per-view buys and over $136,000,000 in revenue.
They also worked together with Mayweather facing Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Victor Ortiz, Saul Alvarez and others.
Whether they were fighting each other, or if Mayweather was fighting one of De La Hoya’s fighters, they generated the most money in the sport.
Segue into Al Haymon. Haymon is a financial advisor and manager – manages over 200 fighters.
He is the advisor and business partner of Mayweather. Haymon also works with Schafer. Heck, Haymon even works with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum (to a degree).
Haymon and De La Hoya were engaged in a court battle. Crossing swords with Haymon probably isn’t the wisest thing to do, especially from a business perspective.
There was a $300 million lawsuit filed by Golden Boy Promotions against Haymon and his enterprise dating back to 2015.
The lawsuit alleged Haymon violated antitrust laws and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act in an attempt to monopolize boxing. The trial was set to begin in March of this year.
But U.S. District Judge John F. Walter of the Court of Central California dismissed Golden Boy Promotions’ $300 million lawsuit against Haymon and his various business entities.
The Judge granted Haymon’s motion for summary judgment, ending the lawsuit from De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.
This highlights another blow for Golden Boy Promotions.
Which brings to attention the recent email revelations; specifically the racist dialogue contained within these messages. The offensive dialogue aimed at Haymon and the lack of many media outlets discussing it.
Emails referring to Haymon as a “Black Hitler-acting nigger,” among other unsavory, distasteful remarks.
This doesn’t directly imply De La Hoya as the main culprit, but it may shed light on the cultural structure of his company and what is deemed as acceptable behavior.
This exposure regarding these toxic emails also points to corruption and the lack of integrity amongst many boxing journalists.
What is the absolute truth is to be determined, but there should be more uproar, more coverage and questions regarding the matter.
This is another conversation in itself, but this is something involving Golden Boy Promotions because affiliates of the company accused Haymon of contemptible acts.
Not that Haymon is above accusation, but the language used, along with the biased perceptions and propaganda perpetuated by certain journalist and media outlets is irresponsible.
Regarding Haymon’s corruption, Judge Walter thought otherwise.
In rejecting Golden Boy’s allegations, Walter wrote, “Plaintiffs contend that Haymon Sports has used these provisions to force its boxers to work with ‘sham’ promoters and/or prevent its fighters from entering into contracts with Golden Boy and other ‘legitimate’ promoters.”
“However, not a single boxer has testified that he has been coerced into selecting a particular promoter or prevented from selecting the promoter of his choice. In fact, defendants have submitted the declarations of six boxers who testify directly to the contrary.”
Regarding the original series of emails, how are we to combat discrimination, racism, if we bypass this and look the other way?
Does De La Hoya want to take accountability for the character issues of his business partners and employees or is this a reflection of his core values?
As a reminder, yes you can employ people of a different background and still discriminate; former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers Donald Sterling is a prime example.
Golden Boy is down for the count, but not all is lost.
Golden Boy recently inked a deal with ESPN; a joint venture between the two companies including a multi-year, international agreement for a series of fights to be televised live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
Golden Boy also added Olympic medalist, former world champion, Yuriorkis Gamboa to the roster, which also includes Sadam Ali, Jorge Linares, Mauricio Herrera, David Lemieux, Gabriel Rosado, and other prominent fighters.
And they still have arguably the biggest draw in boxing, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
Although Alvarez endures a storm of criticism with his supposed reluctance to step in the ring with Gennady Golovkin.
There is a litany of things that must be resolved. From a business perspective, this involves court cases and match making.
From a personal and personnel perspective, this includes some form of rehabilitation and counseling for Oscar De La Hoya and associates.
Restoring the reputation and public perception should take precedence. No one is perfect, mistakes are made, that’s a given.
But redemption starts with De La Hoya first and foremost. He is the face of the company and one of the integral faces of boxing period.
Whether you fall on the side of supporter or detractor, this current state of De La Hoya is not a good look.
It’s been a busy week for Golden Boy Promotions. The path to recovery begins now.