By Jake Donovan
The pairing of Vasyl Lomachenko and Gary Russell for a June 21 vacant featherweight title marks a rare occasion where a Top Rank fighter faces someone from Golden Boy Promotions and from Al Haymon’s stable. Given the recent reconciliation between Bob Arum and Oscar de la Hoya, it was expected to hear from all parties on a media conference call scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Arum informed Boxingscene.com’s David Greisman that he planned to join the call , as he was invited by de la Hoya. The offer comes as part of an olive branch extended by de la Hoya for the two companies to begin working together. The move resulted in the implosion of Golden Boy Promotions, with Richard Schaefer stepping away from day-to-day operations after serving as CEO for more than a decade.
The June 21 card was supposed to serve as the start of a renewed friendship. However, it has yet to be extended between Top Rank and Showtime.
“Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, was scheduled to be on the Vasyl Lomachenko conference call today. Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Showtime Sports and Event Programming, requested that Arum not be on the call,” the Top Rank statement claimed. “Carl Moretti, VP of Boxing Operations of Top Rank, will replace Arum (on the conference call, representing Top Rank on behalf of Lomachenko).”
Naturally, Showtime has a different account of events.
“Neither Bob Arum, nor Stephen Espinoza were scheduled to be on today's media conference call,” Chris DeBlasio, Vice President of Communications for SHO Sports, clarified to Boxingscene.com in an email statement Tuesday afternoon. “The June 21 Showtime Championship Boxing event is promoted by Golden Boy and, collectively with Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions, we agreed that this was not a platform on which any other promotional outfit belongs.
“This call is about the fighters on this card that are preparing for important, and competitive fights.”
While Top Rank and Golden Boy plan for the future, there still exists the issue of network rights for their events. Top Rank has become the promoter of choice for HBO (though not exclusive promoter), while Golden Boy has served as the primary source of content for Showtime since 2012.
Golden Boy won the right to promote the vacant title fight between Lomachenko and Russell, adding it to what is now a televised tripleheader at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The show is headlined by Robert Guerrero, who returns to the ring for the first time since his loss to Floyd Mayweather more than a year ago. Also on the card, former two-division titlist Devon Alexander faces Jesus Soto Karass in a must-win situation for both fighters.
De la Hoya was scheduled to lead the call, representing Golden Boy Promotions, who serves as the lead promoter for the event. He has since been replaced on the call by Eric Gomez, Golden Boy Vice President and Matchmaker, according to a media itinerary issued Tuesday morning.
All four undercard fighters – Lomachenko, Russell, Alexander and Soto-Karass, are still scheduled to appear on the conference call.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox