Showtime, Al Haymon’s $3 Whore, Lies Back, Televises Danny Garcia-Rod Salka


By Ivan G. Goldman

Not even the alphabet gangs would sanction Danny Garcia’s match with low-level, too-small Rod Salka Saturday night. When those guys can’t stand the stench, you know you’re peddling a dead skunk.

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Photo: Amanda Kwok / SHOWTIME

Shortly after Garcia punched right through his hapless prey in round two, Showtime boxing czar Stephen Espinoza began sniping at Golden Boy’s president, Oscar De La Hoya, for not hanging around to watch the slaughter. Espinoza was upset he had to take the heat alone. But notice he had no cross words for powerful, mysterious Al Haymon, the advisor-manager whose fingerprints were all over this stink-o-rama of a card.

Just because Haymon won’t appear in public, that doesn’t excuse his absence. He owes fans an explanation for the disaster that was presented to them from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. All three lopsided victors in the televised matches were Haymon’s fighters.
The finger-pointing reached a crescendo by the time Showtime’s Jim Gray had to climb into the ring and figure out what to ask Garcia about his junior welterweight victory over a guy who’d scored only three stoppages in his previous 22 outings and who weighed in at only 132 and change for his last fight.

The network’s entire on-camera team had to scramble. Mauro Ranallo desperately cited the tried-and-true Buster Douglas upset over Mike Tyson. In other words, anything can happen. Sure. But a Salko victory was about as likely as extraterrestrials landing on the roof and filing downstairs to see the show. If they had, they probably would have asked for their money back.

Brian Kenny complained, as always, about the crappy, corrupt alphabet gangs, but he failed to mention that in this case they were heroes. Both the WBC and WBA actually passed up their cherished sanctioning fees, which they could have collected if only they’d held their noses and sanctioned Salka as a legitimate opponent.

I have a writer friend who’s done some writing for TV. She told me that no matter how ridiculous the show, the code calls for everyone connected it to treat it as a legitimate project. Break the rule and you’re gone. Which explains Espinoza’s ire. Oscar stopped pretending, although he may have had personal reasons for his early exit.

In a tweet, ESPN’s Nigel Collins asked why highly touted David Berlin, (the New York commission’s new executive director) sanctioned these mismatches? Collins’ ESPN colleague Teddy Atlas recommended Berlin for the job.

That final left hook Garcia delivered to brave Salka’s exposed head is the kind of shot that can create serious medical difficulties. And his head hit the canvas with a mighty thump, never a good sign. Thankfully, he eventually got up and walked around. But I saw Victor Burgos walking around after Vic Darchinyan pounded him for 12 rounds in 2007. A few minutes later he collapsed into a coma that crippled him for life. Mismatches can have dire consequences.

Putting medical questions aside, I have a question too. Why did Espinoza accept these fights and present them to his subscribers as a legitimate sports event? Instead of complaining about Oscar’s absence, he should have done his job in the first place and refused to sign off on these obvious travesties. It’s clear that he will endure anything rather than upset puppet-master Haymon, who used to be HBO’s headache but now rules Showtime’s boxing division.

We can only speculate on hermit Haymon’s thinking, but now that he can stick whatever he feels like on Showtime, he prefers not to risk his fighters’ win-loss records in non-pay-per-view events – and not even then, if he can help it. The Barclays show had Showtime once again playing the part of a three-dollar whore, apparently in an effort to stay on Haymon’s good side and recoup some of the tens of millions it’s guaranteed to Floyd Mayweather, the prince of Haymon’s stable, every time he consents to compete.

We’re left to wonder whether anyone ever says no to Haymon. Those who deal with him aren’t talking. He’s somehow managed to impose blanket secrecy. He’s got approximately 50 fighters under contract and they don’t give up his phone number or say anything about him except to voice gratitude. Amazingly, we don’t even know the whereabouts of his office. If these fighters used simple arithmetic they’d see Haymon can’t possibly find enough Showtime events to keep them all busy.

Showtime’s slavish devotion to Haymon is a perfect example of the short-term thinking global corporations are known for. Remarkable Mayweather is beginning to show wear and tear, and shows like the one out of Brooklyn Saturday sour the network’s tenuous relations with the customers who pay its bills.

New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More Information Here

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