By Ivan G. Goldman
Richard Schaefer talks and acts like someone who wants to be fired.
The CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, reminded that the company’s principal owner, Oscar De La Hoya, says he wants to put together big fights with Bob Arum of Top Rank, defied his boss’s wishes, telling the Los Angeles Times Wednesday, “I have no interest in dealing with Bob Arum.”
He appeared completely uninterested in putting together a match between Canelo Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao, a superfight that his boss suggested a day earlier.
Schaefer told Lance Pugmire of the Times, “I’ve been running Golden Boy since the beginning. If (Oscar) wants to change that, since he’s the majority shareholder, and decides he wants to fire me, I can’t stop that.”
Schaefer made it clear that he won’t do business with Arum but offered no rationale beyond his personal distaste for the man. He appeared to be daring Oscar to fire him if he disagrees. De La Hoya says Schaefer’s contract runs all the way to 2018. Could it be that his CEO, a former Swiss banker who no longer sings Oscar’s praises, would like to keep taking his salary while he grazes in other pastures? Possibly. It depends on the language of that employment contract. Sometimes personnel agreements contain clauses that cut off an ex-employee’s guaranties if he goes to work for a competing enterprise.
After Bernard Hopkins defeated Beibut Shumenov Saturday night, he went out of his way to shower compliments on Schaefer and Hopkins’ adviser, boxing godfather Al Haymon. Hopkins didn’t even mention De La Hoya. It was more evidence that the Golden Boy personality pot is set to boil over, possibly after the big Golden Boy card May 3, when Floyd Mayweather defends his titles against Marcos Maidana in Las Vegas. Both Maidana and Mayweather are also clients of the reclusive Haymon, who takes no questions from reporters.
Hopkins is described by the firm as someone who holds some kind of partnership stake. But so was Shane Mosley before he and Golden Boy parted ways. Not long after Hopkins stopped Oscar in the 9th round of their middleweight contest in 2004 I saw Hopkins tell a gathering of reporters that Oscar didn’t have enough power to hurt him. There’s nothing new about Hopkins denigrating other fighters, but he said it with Oscar, supposedly a friend and business partner, sitting right there. Their friendship apparently didn’t run deep, and their relationship looked even rockier last Saturday night.
Schaefer pointed out that Arum had insulted the MGM Grand and the Floyd Mayweather-Maidana match-up and seemed to think that these remarks disqualified Arum as someone to do business with. Arum has also belittled Schaefer as a guy who just doesn’t get boxing. But insults are common in the fight business. Arum and Don King must have hurled hundreds of insults at each other over the years, but they put cards together anyway.
Schaefer seems to think that if you hurt his feelings that’s’ a perfectly good reason for him to stop good fights from getting made. But De La Hoya, who fought many years and won many belts under Arum’s banner, seems to believe otherwise. He says he’d like to explore putting together a fight with Golden Boy-promoted Canelo and Top Rank-promoted Pacquiao and that he hopes to talk to Arum about it soon. He’s not talking about seeking Schaefer’s approval.
Said Schaefer: “With Oscar, it’s sort of like, one day he hates (Arum), the next day he loves him, the next day he rips him, then he loves him again. That’s OK, they can play those games.”
But putting together big fights is no game. In fact, boxing itself is a sport that’s never a game. Maybe bankers base their business on personal relationships. But if that’s so, then the fight business is a more grown-up enterprise.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’d like to hear more about that Pacquiao-Canelo idea.
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.