The War Within The War

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Now that this weekend’s Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana title fight is in the books, we can move on to the really big fight, the one with greater implications and a more significant impact on the sport than Pound for Pound supremacy,  coincidently enough it’s still under the Golden Boy Banner. That fight is between CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, Richard Schaefer, and majority shareholder Oscar De La Hoya.

This has been brewing for quite some time, but Boxingscene.com’s Rick Reeno posted an article just days before Mayweather-Maidana and in this article Schaefer made it clear that he is not getting along with De La Hoya these days. Furthermore, Schaefer made it clear that his days at Golden Boy could be numbered, stating that he would make the decision whether to stay or leave the company in the coming weeks.

From the moment I read that article I started to see Mayweather-Maidana as a diversion for the real battle going on behind the scenes, or not-so-behind the scenes.

Those statements are much more pressing when you consider the character traits of the men involved, not to mention the history between both parties. It seems as though there is a deeper rooted issue here, but the wedge driving De La Hoya and Schaefer further apart is Bob Arum.

This situation is simple to comprehend. De La Hoya sees the benefit of doing business with Top Rank, while Schaefer’s wounds are still too pertinent to mend fences with the man who has been trashing him in the media the last year or so.

Don’t misconstrue my time table, Arum has been badmouthing Schaefer for some time now, but the last year is highlighted because it correlates with De La Hoya’s MIA stance in the company, a time when De La Hoya was trying to get sober, inadvertently allowing Schaefer to absorb the brunt of Arum’s verbal assaults.

Perhaps the line was crossed and Schaefer can’t reconcile with Arum, or maybe De La Hoya was gone so long that his sudden desire to work with Golden Boy’s archrival is perceived by Schaefer as some sort of performance review, of the negative variety.

There have been many theories as to what will become of Schaefer should he part ways with Golden Boy one way or another. The one theory floating around out there involves Schaefer starting his own company with the aid of Al Haymon and his ever growing stable of fighters.

Some insiders believe Schaefer is preparing to make the ultimate leap, some have said he has been secretly working on this for years and is using the Arum situation as a smokescreen. A year ago I would’ve balked at the idea of a Schaefer-Haymon joint venture, at least one of this magnitude. I would’ve considered this theory mere speculation chalked up to the conjecture of conspiracy theorists, but now I’m not so sure.

You can’t ignore the fact that Haymon’s relationship with Golden Boy hinged on Schaefer, nor can you forget the past tensions between Haymon and De La Hoya. And I’d be willing to bet that Haymon is less than thrilled to hear Oscar’s new found stance on building a working relationship with Top Rank.

At first glance, you can view a new promotional company with Schaefer and Haymon as a powerhouse, but that just isn’t so, at least not in the short-term. Sure Haymon can bring some guys to the table, but a lot of them are tied into contracts with Golden Boy. Mayweather is out the door, presumably a year from September. Manny Pacquiao is presumably prepared to end his career as a Top Rank fighter and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is locked up with Golden Boy. Mayweather is the only fighter under Haymon’s umbrella and that means that Schaefer would jump into a new promotion without a long-term mainstay fighter.

The other issue for Schaefer is loyalty. What’s to stop Haymon from doing business with Golden Boy again if it becomes the logically lucrative decision for his fighters? If two years into Schaefer’s promotional company he isn’t churning out competitive deals by comparisons to Top Rank or Golden Boy then it would be hard for Haymon to keep commitments because his loyalty is ultimately to his fighters.

Schaefer would essentially be all on his own because Haymon isn’t going to get a promotional license, he just isn’t. Part of the reason Haymon is so good at what he does is the fact that he is on the other side of the negotiating table, trying to abstract as much money from the promoter’s side of things. Haymon’s allure is weakened by a promotional license and his status as the most in demand advisor would take a hit, nullifying the benefits of a Haymon partnership in the first place.

Of course, as a boxing fan I sometimes operate under the notion that Haymon knows better than everyone. There is a part of me, as irrational as it may be, that believes Haymon can do no wrong and that if he is going to make a move like this then he must have all the necessary ducks in a row. That scares me to death as a boxing fan.

If Schaefer moves forward with a new company then it is bad news for all boxing fans, especially if Haymon is involved. You have to believe the most powerful man in boxing teaming up with one of the most strategic promoters of all time is a can’t miss play. So what does their success permeate with fight fans and our desire to see an increase in competitive boxing matches without the regard of promotional bureaucracy.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Pacquiao fan or a Mayweather fan. It doesn’t matter if you listen to Thaboxingvoice radio show or hate us. Anyone who loves boxing and wishes to see the politically charged “Cold War” come to its end has to be against Schaefer moving forward with his own promotional outfit.

Right now, the best boxers in the Golden Boy stable and the Top Rank roster can’t fight one another due to the heated rivalry that has been festering for years. If Schaefer creates his own promotion and is successful in siphoning off some of Golden Boy’s marquee fighters, the ones associated to Haymon, then it would essentially add a third party to the “Cold War,” bringing further resistance to the theory of the best fighting the best regardless of promotional affiliation.

It is hard enough seeing fighters like Manny Pacquiao, Brandon Rios and Tim Bradley unable to come to terms with fighters such as Keith Thurman, Amir Khan or Marcos Maidana, but then take one fighter from each list and place them in a different promotional roster and you will have a furtherance between the most lucrative matchups in the sport of boxing.

I hope this is all just conjecture and Schaefer takes a non-boxing related job with some Fortune 500 company, I’d wish him the best in that scenario. But if the alternative is proceeded upon then boxing is in the kind of trouble it may not survive.