Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, per Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, has ended his association with Golden Boy Promotions in the wake of Richard Schaefer's resignation as CEO on Monday. Mayweather will continue to fight under the Mayweather Promotions banner, and his opponent for his September 13 fight remains undecided.
After weeks of speculation, the golden divorce has finally come to pass.
Richard Schaefer, the co-founder and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions since its creation in 2003, announced via press release, per FightHype, on Monday that he was resigning his position and leaving the promotional outfit.
Dan Rafael of ESPN.com reported via Twitter that the split is effective immediately:
I just spoke to Schaefer. His resignation is effective immediately.— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) June 2, 2014
The decision, which has been rumored for some time, is likely to have significant ramifications, not just for Oscar De La Hoya’s promotional company, but on the boxing world at large.
Schaefer, for his part, took the high road in announcing his departure. He emphasized the need to look for new challenges in his life and maintained that he would remain a shareholder in the company, and thus vested in its continued success:
After more than ten years with Golden Boy, it is time to move on to the next chapter of my career. This decision has required a great deal of personal reflection, but ultimately I concluded that I have no choice but to leave. I have succeeded in banking and I have succeeded in boxing, and I look forward to the next opportunity. I am proud to remain a shareholder, so I have a strong interest in the continued success of the company. I am proud of what we have accomplished at Golden Boy, but I now look forward to new challenges.
The decision comes against the backdrop of De La Hoya’s recent reemergence as a force within the ranks of the company he and Schaefer started more than a decade ago, and it comes at a time of renewed hope that boxing’s “Cold War” could finally be reaching a thaw.
Tim Smith of The Ring Magazine reported in late April that De La Hoya and Schaefer were heading for a nasty divorce. Their business and personal relationships—the two men became good friends when Schaefer was brought on to manage De La Hoya’s finances—were shattered and beyond repair.
The fractured nature of their relationship was on full public display during Keith Thurman’s defense of his WBA Welterweight Championship against Julio Diaz—a Golden Boy-promoted show—when De La Hoya entered the arena and walked right past Schaefer without acknowledging him.
Steven Kim of MaxBoxing.com had a priceless reaction to the affair:
the only thing frostier than Oscar and Richard ringside, is the weather here at StubHub. Geez,.it's chilly. BRRRRR #boxing— Steve Kim (@stevemaxboxing) April 27, 2014
The main bone of contention between De La Hoya and Schaefer was the former’s desire to reach out and attempt to do business with Bob Arum and Top Rank.
De La Hoya, who was long ago promoted by Arum before his own contentious split from working with the company, felt that common ground could be found, while Schaefer, having been down that road, refused to make any further overtures to Arum.
With Schaefer now out at Golden Boy, and the company’s business philosophy exclusively determined by the Golden Boy himself, you can expect, at the very least, some serious discussion to begin about interpromotional matchups.
De La Hoya even sat down with Arum last month, per Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News, in an effort to settle their differences.
Before you jump out of your chairs about the possibility of Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao finally coming to fruition, you can sit right back down.
Mayweather has his own promotional company—Mayweather Promotions, which we’ll deal with in a bit—and his co-promotional agreements with Golden Boy over the years largely had to do with Schaefer’s involvement.
But let’s not skip ahead.
Mayweather and Pacquiao’s non-fight won’t be affected in the slightest by this decision, but some other lower-profile, but still significant, fights could be.
Pacquiao won’t get Mayweather, but would boxing fans object to seeing him fight Marcos Maidana? Or Amir Khan?
How about unified junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia? The Philadelphia-born fighter of Puerto Rican descent would match up pretty well against Ruslan Provodnikov, no?
You can also add Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Leo Santa Cruz, Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Shawn Porter and Tim Bradley vs. Thurman to that list.
The possibilities would be endless if boxing’s longstanding promotional rivalry finally came to an end.
But that’s wishful thinking, and there are a lot of reasons why.
It’s true that much of the gulf between Golden Boy and Top Rank revolved around the personal animus that existed between Schaefer and Arum. Putting it in the simplest possible terms, the two men weren’t exchanging birthday cards.
De La Hoya and Arum enjoy a less frosty relationship, but the two men have engaged in notable clashes in the past.
And then there are the matters of rival television networks, rival sponsors and Al Haymon.
Many of the high-profile fighters in Golden Boy’s stable, including Santa Cruz, Garcia and Khan, among others, are advised by Haymon, the mover and shaker behind the scenes who HBO refuses to do business with.
His presence, and the movement of Golden Boy fighters to Showtime, was one of the main reasons that HBO announced last year that it would no longer be buying fights from Golden Boy.
It’s unclear what, if anything, this will do to repair the relationship between Golden Boy and HBO, especially given Haymon’s continued involvement.
Any significant fights made between Golden Boy and Top Rank fighters are going to need to survive a gauntlet of pitfalls, each and every one of which having the ability to derail the event.
Who would televise?
Top Rank appears exclusively on HBO, and Golden Boy, for the reasons mentioned above, has a close relationship with Showtime and it’s executive vice president, Stephen Espinoza.
Espinoza, a former lead attorney with Golden Boy, is the man largely responsible for taking Showtime from also-ran to legitimate contender for cable-boxing dominance. He snagged Mayweather with a multi-fight deal and has done more than anyone at Showtime to build its boxing brand.
He has yet to weigh in on this split or the future implications it could hold for his network.
There are sponsorship issues.
Golden Boy has a lucrative partnership with Corona, while Top Ranks gets its cerveza from Tecate. That issue isn’t going to move the needle at all among boxing fans, but when it comes to fight promotion, it’ll be a heavy issue that needs solving.
And then there’s the issue of Mayweather Promotions.
Everyone knows that the key to money in boxing, or at least the key to real money and star power, is Mayweather. The pound-for-pound king marches to the beat of his own drum, and nobody speaks for him but himself and sometimes Leonard Ellerbe, who heads up his promotional company.
He’s had a longstanding business partnership with Golden Boy, despite his acrimonious relationship with De La Hoya over the years—who he beat for a junior middleweight title in 2007—and that has everything to do with his closeness with Schaefer.
Mayweather has raided Golden Boy’s cupboard for all of his recent opponents, and as the winds of change began blowing fierce before his recent fight with Maidana, Mayweather, per ESPN.com, made it clear that Schaefer would be welcomed at Mayweather Promotions if he left Golden Boy.
He also made it clear that his business relationship with Golden Boy was exclusively due to Schaefer's presence.
Schaefer didn’t make it explicit whether or not he planned to return to boxing in the future or in what capacity, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see him find his way to Mayweather’s team before long.
This could also lead to a situation where Mayweather, who has been on record in the past about his commitment to growing his promotional outfit, begins poaching fighters from Golden Boy once they become free agents.
Boxing is a business, and nobody is better at that business than Mayweather. If he spots an opportunity to grab Schaefer and some high-profile fighters, he’ll take it without hesitation.
All of this means that any boxing fan who is rejoicing this decision, or holding out hope that it could finally mean the break in the dam that has prevented so many big fights over the years, could be holding on to false hope.
Schaefer isn’t the bad guy here, or at least, he’s not the only one.
Will this lead to more discussions of fights?
Will it lead to actual fights?
That’s a whole different question.