By Johnny Walker
Richard Schaefer, president of Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy boxing promotions, used a press conference this week promoting the upcoming fight of his business associate Bernard Hopkins (who takes on Tavoris Cloud for the WBO welterweight title at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday) to take a few shots at his rivals.
As reported by ESPN.com, Schaefer made it clear that he considers Don King, perhaps the most famous (and infamous) boxing promoter in the world, as a relic of yesteryear.
King, 81, is the promoter of Cloud, one of the few high-profile fighters left in his stable. Responding to a question as to whether a Hopkins defeat of Cloud would effectively finish King off in the boxing business, the Golden Boy impresario replied, “That’s a harsh thing to say. But Don had his time. There’s no need to rub it in, but now it’s over.”
The reason for Schaefer’s pique was later made clear when he explained that King tried to shake him down for more money that very morning, only to be rebuffed — nothing out of character for Don King, of course.
And King wasn’t the only target on Schaefer’s hit list this week.
The promoter also took a verbal shot at Kathy Duva’s Main Events Promotions, who, like Golden Boy, recently staged fights on a major television network (CBS for Golden Boy; NBC for Main Events) instead of the usual cable / pay-per-view routes.
While Duva’s card featuring her stalwart Tomasz Adamek against Steve “USS” Cunningham apparently did as well ratings-wise as Golden Boy’s offering featuring Leo Santa Cruz versus Alberto Guevara, Schaefer made it clear that he found his rival’s promotional strategy flawed when it comes to network television and the effort to bring new fans to the sport.
As quoted in ESPN, Schaefer offered a somewhat convoluted strategy for gaining new boxing fans via network TV, one that relies on regional tie-ins, for example between football teams and boxers.
In Schaefer’s view, putting boxing on television cold, without some kind of connection to the programming preceding it, is a mistake. Fans of Alabama’s college football team would more likely stick around to watch boxing if the card features an Alabama-born fighter like Deontay Wilder, he figures.
“I don’t mean to knock Main Events, but to just put guys on, bam …” said Schaefer.
Of course, when someone says he doesn’t mean to knock a rival, you know that’s exactly what he is about to do.
And while Schaefer may have a legitimate point to make here, one could just as easily posit that perhaps Main Events had more faith in the quality of its debut network show and the appeal of boxing itself than did Golden Boy.
Main Events offered a headline bout featuring two “name” fighters in Adamek and Cunningham, while in contrast, Leo Santa Cruz and Alberto Guevara on Golden Boy’s show were fighters likely known to only hard-core boxing fans.
So while Schaefer does a good job with his cable and PPV events, his network television debut was likely less attractive to those potential viewers who were not already boxing addicts than was the Main Events network card.
Not to knock Richard Schaefer, of course….