By Ivan G. Goldman
Boxing scribes are already taking sides in the dispute between Oscar De La Hoya and his former pal Richard Schaefer. Or at least one of them is.
Photo: Gene Blevins – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
Yahoo Sports writer Kevin Iole, the website’s principal boxing scribe, posted an article today that feigned objectivity but might as well have been written by a publicist for Schaefer, the CEO for Golden Boy Promotions.
It’s become increasingly clear that Schaefer may soon collect his things and split from the company, which is still controlled by Oscar.
Meanwhile, over at Golden Boy-owned Ring magazine, its Internet site is manned by people who don’t know where to turn and so largely ignore the quarrel altogether. If their boss Schaefer makes his getaway (or is pushed out; details aren’t clear) the poor employees over at Ring will be like gremlins in an abandoned castle. Now what?
Boxing writers can spend a lot of time building relationships with promoters, managers, and fighters, and when business structures change, it can put a crimp in their information flow and consequently their routine. Yahoo’s Iole is arguably one of the two most powerful boxing writers out there. The other would be Dan Rafael of ESPN.com.
The headline for Iole’s article, which appears immediately beneath a Viagra ad, reads “Floyd Mayweather’s fight week shines light on rift between Oscar De La Hoya, Richard Schaefer.” In it, Iole points out that Schaefer and De La Hoya have kept their distance from each other as Saturday’s big pay-per-view fight between Mayweather and Marcos Maidana looms. Golden Boy is handling the promotion.
These are some of the other points Iole tries to make:
* Schaefer has done “brilliant” work for Golden Boy, which “desperately” needed him.
* Oscar’s attempts to make peace with Bob Arum of Top Rank through social media – mainly Twitter — have been “blunders.”
* Arum, Floyd’s former promoter, didn’t know how to market him properly (and presumably Schaefer did).
* Oscar is an admitted drug addict and alcoholic who posed for a whole flock of photographs showing him in drag. (everybody knows about the drag queen stuff, but Iole spent a lot of space dragging it out again anyway. Pun intended).
I’m sure Schaefer, a former Swiss banker from a family of Swiss bankers, has done some good work and put on some successful shows. He runs what’s become the largest promotional company in the sport. But I’m also sure Schaefer has done some work that’s less than brilliant. For example, he got his company booted off HBO after his ally, boxing godfather Al Haymon, delivered Mayweather to Showtime as Floyd said farewell to HBO.
His least brilliant accomplishment was to get his company so ensnared in the politics of enmity that he somehow managed to avoid putting together what was clearly the biggest fight out there – the one that was most desired by fans for years – Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao.
That and other potential match-ups, such as K2’s Gennady Golovkin versus Golden Boy’s Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, could be made only if rival promoters can do business together, which is the way it’s normally done in boxing. Promoters don’t have to be pals to make fights fans want to see.
Yet Schaefer has made it clear that he refuses to do business with Arum, citing nasty things Arum has said about him and his promotions. No question about it – Arum, 82, cares less about social niceties than ever. But he’s also been receptive to De La Hoya’s feelers.
A pogue who flatly states he opposes pursuing strategies to break up the logjam is not doing anything “brilliant,” and efforts to get the fights made aren’t “blunders.” The goal is to make the best fights for the fans, not to sidle up to sources. The civil war between Golden Boy, Showtime, and Haymon on one side and HBO and Top Rank is not anything a boxing writer should want to continue. It clearly damages the sport.
It remains to be seen whether the developing Schaefer-De La Hoya split will lead to Schaefer forming some kind of business alliance with Showtime, Mayweather, and Haymon that excludes De La Hoya. But without obstreperous Schaefer, Oscar may put himself in position to do business with both Showtime and HBO, as well as Arum, who promoted him for most of his boxing career.
I figure the fellow out to make the best fights is on the right side of the sport. If he wants to wear a dress, that’s his business.
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.