And just like that, the boxing world is as topsy-turvy as it’s ever been. Shortly after Richard Schaefer announced he was leaving Golden Boy Promotions on Monday, the boxing world was buzzing with excitement.
Could this be the long-awaited end of boxing’s cold war? And does this mean we might finally see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in the ring together?
It made some sense.
Schaefer had long served as CEO of Golden Boy Promotions and was often pointed to as a chief antagonist in Golden Boy’s long-standing refusal to work with Bob Arum’s promotional company, Top Rank.
There’s no love lost between Schaefer and Arum. These two guys hate each other, so his resignation potentially meant company founder and president, Oscar De La Hoya, could now freely—and with proper support—work on mending his working relationship with Arum.
It still does, and that’s a good thing.
But Schaefer’s resignation was quickly followed by an announcement from Leonard Ellerbe of Mayweather Promotions: that boxing’s most significant star was also severing ties with the company.
Golden Boy Promotions had promoted Mayweather’s biggest and best fights to date, including the highest grossing boxing pay-per-view ever, Mayweather’s 2007 win over De La Hoya.
But Mayweather has now kicked them to the curb. So yeah, it seems we’re right back where we started.
According to The Sweet Science’s Bernard Fernandez, Schaefer’s resignation should have lasting implications to the rest of Mayweather’s career:
The ramifications of the De La Hoya/Schaefer split are significant. It was Schaefer who has a close personal and working relationship with boxing’s most bankable fighter, Floyd Mayweather Jr., as well as with Mayweather’s influential adviser, Al Haymon, whose deep roster of fighters regularly appeared on Golden Boy cards but all of whom were not under contract to GBP.
Mayweather’s six-fight deal with Showtime, which he is now halfway through, was hailed at the time as the richest in history. But by essentially choosing to forgo working with both Top Rank and Golden Boy now, will there be anyone left for him to fight?
More importantly, will it be anyone worth paying to see?
Welterweight Paulie Malignaggi, who doubles as an announcer for Showtime, told The Sweet Science’s Michael Woods he still can’t quite believe all this has happened and that he wonders about the ramifications of a further fractured sport:
I'm speechless. I wonder where this leaves the fate of so many fighters. Who promotes the fights on June 21 and July 12? What about the fighters signed to both Al Haymon and Golden Boy? I guess we will see, I am confused and speechless and I thought they would find an amicable solution and not part ways. I'm shocked. Hopefully this isn't bad for the fighters.
Simply put, Mayweather is running out of options. Already off the table were Arum’s fighters, headlined by Pacquiao, of course, and now it seems the wreckage of the Schaefer-Golden Boy Promotions split must be sorted through to see who is actually left standing with who.
If this is musical chairs, the music is still playing. But it’s about to stop.
Bernard Hopkins, who has been part of Golden Boy Promotions from the very beginning, indicated to Fernandez that things might be starting to look really bleak over there for De La Hoya. In fact, he took some thinly veiled shots at his business partner while simultaneously heaping praise on Schaefer, an indication he might be headed toward whatever happens between Schaefer, Mayweather and Haymon:
A guy like Richard…really can’t be replaced. I’ll reiterate: Richard Schaefer cannot be replaced. … Richard is a man who is stern when he needs to be stern, and fair when he needs to be fair. It’s hard to find people like that in boxing. He’s one of the biggest and most respected players there is. Even the people who don’t care for him too much on a personal level have got to respect him when it comes to the way he does his job. Think about it. Who really ran Golden Boy? I’m not talking about popping up in the office once or twice a year. Who was there, doing the deals, on a day-to-day basis?
Hopkins also said he didn’t have a contract with Golden Boy Promotions, leaving the door open for offers from other promotional entities.
But who exactly is signed by Golden Boy Promotions? And who is signed to a managerial contact with Haymon? And who to both?
If the devil is in the details, he is conspicuously absent around this important point.
According to Yahoo.com’s Kevin Iole, Schaefer didn’t know the answer to the question himself as recently as earlier this year:
Schaefer admitted to Yahoo Sports earlier this year that some fighters were signed to Haymon managerial contracts as well as to Golden Boy Promotional contracts, while others were simply signed to Haymon managerial deals and Golden Boy just used them on a fight-by-fight basis.
So then who can Mayweather fight? Odds are only Mayweather, Schaefer and Haymon know the answer to that question right now, and that the public will only learn of it as it unfolds in the weeks and months ahead.
Regardless, one must assume several things going forward for Mayweather, and none of them are particularly appealing.
First, Mayweather will not work with Top Rank and Golden Boy. He’s severed ties with both now and that’s a bad thing.
The best possible scenario for Mayweather is that Haymon and Schaefer form some kind of new promotional entity with him, perhaps under the banner of Mayweather Promotions. Whatever that entity is, it will need fighters, and it will need them in weight classes where Mayweather resides.
But Golden Boy isn’t likely to lose all its folks there. Oh sure, it might lose some. People make work-related changes every day. Boxing is no different.
Golden Boy, however, will keep at least some of its stable of otherwise potential Mayweather opponents, and it’s not likely that Top Rank will lose many of its group either.
That means instead of a two-way split in the potential Mayweather opponent pool, Mayweather and company will now be forced to pick from an even smaller piece of the pie.
Next, that best possible scenario for Mayweather just proposed probably won’t even happen, at least not soon enough for it to matter to him.
Iole wrote that it appears “inevitable” that this whole mess will end up in front of a California court, and he’s probably right.
Things like this don’t get hashed out quickly, and Schaefer’s partial ownership of Golden Boy Promotions will only complicate matters.
Finally, it appears Mayweather might be forced to bite off more than he can chew. If the pool of candidates from 147-154 starts to look bleak, might he move up to 160 to face a middleweight? And could he compete against the likes of Sergio Martinez or Gennady Golovkin?
Whatever happens going forward, one thing is clear: the shakeup at Golden Boy Promotions will have a lasting impact on the end of Mayweather’s career.
It certainly won’t make things easier for him, and it’s likely to leave him strolling around the dance floor looking for partners rather than rounding out a career the right way.
Kelsey McCarson writes about boxing and stuff. Follow him @KelseyMcCarson.
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