By Ryan Maquiñana
In the wake of Richard Schaefer leaving his post at Golden Boy Promotions on Monday, the question now becomes what the former CEO plans to do next.
On the afternoon of May 3, Oscar De La Hoya, the company’s president, fielded questions in a reporters’ roundtable about his alleged rift with Schaefer and rumors that the CEO was aiming to start his own promotional outfit with powerful adviser Al Haymon.
After all, it had been revealed that several fighters who had been appearing on Golden Boy cards were actually signed with Haymon alone -- and not with the promotional company.
“Was I surprised? Of course,” De La Hoya said of the news. “Do I know how many are actually under contract? I don't know the exact number. But I have to look after myself. This is a business.”
Showtime Sports executive vice president Stephen Espinoza was also on hand to hear De La Hoya’s words. Golden Boy and Haymon fighters have enjoyed an almost ubiquitous presence on the network, so when BoxingScene.com asked Espinoza that afternoon about the impact of a De La Hoya-Schaefer schism, he believed both men could thrive, even in a divided setting as competitors for coveted TV dates.
“As someone who is a friend to both of them,” Espinoza said, “it’s sad to see a relationship that was so close personally and so close business-wise apparently coming to an end or at least on rocky terms right now.
“I’m not sure where it will end up, but I know that given what both guys bring to the table, I think they each can be successfully on their own within the sport, and if that’s the way they go, I’d be glad to business with both of them.”
As for the “Cold War” that has been hampering the sport and splitting fighters among promotional and television network party lines, De La Hoya mentioned that he has been working toward reconciliation with Top Rank CEO Bob Arum -- a move that might have been the driving force behind Schaefer’s exit.
Arum, who has verbally sparred with Schaefer for several years, has taken his most high-profile fighters exclusively to Showtime’s rival HBO rather than deal with Golden Boy and Haymon. Could a revival of Arum and De La Hoya’s relationship mean the return of Top Rank fighters on Showtime?
“I’ve got no issue with that,” Espinoza said. “If Oscar and Bob were to start doing business, it would be a non-issue for me whatsoever. I want the best fights as a fan and as a television executive, so if it’s Oscar giving those fights, or Oscar and Bob, or Richard, or anybody else, or Al, or Lou DiBella, or Artie Pelullo or anybody else.”
If Top Rank and a restructured Golden Boy can make amends, more marquee matchups will certainly come to fruition to the delight of the sweet science's long-suffering supporters. But given the latest developments regarding Schaefer’s status, perhaps the “Cold War” could see one front close and a new one emerge nonetheless.
Follow Ryan Maquiñana on Twitter @RMaq28 or email him at [email protected] .