By Jake Donovan
Mock celebrations surfaced in various forms – articles, social networks and general water cooler talk - amidst the reports of last Saturday’s split-site doubleheader on HBO serving as the last of an output deal between the network and Golden Boy Promotions.
Two young stars of the Golden Boy stable were featured in separate alphabet title fights some 2000 miles apart.
The show led off with 22-year old Adrien Broner becoming the second Golden Boy fighter to be brought along from pro debut to championship status with his third round knockout of Vicente Rodriguez in their vacant 130 lb. title fight.
Later in the evening and roughly 700 miles south of the U.S. border, 21-year old Saul Alvarez made the third successful defense of his 154 lb. belt with a fifth round stoppage of former welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron in Mexico City.
More so than the results of their fighters, the brass at Golden Boy was pleased with the fact that youth is finally being served that has struggled to get younger. Stars have been slow to emerge while pound-for-pound rankings have been dominated by fighters north of 30 for quite a while.
While Saturday suggested the end of one specific deal, Golden Boy sees it as the continuation of a promising future.
“It’s a funny thing. I read the comments somewhere that if Broner and (unbeaten featherweight prospect) Gary Russell were with (other promoters), would they have that same opportunity? I take that as a compliment,” states Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “If you are a young fighter and we have the opportunity to build you, why would you want to be with anyone else?”
The most recent example would be Broner himself. Saturday night was his fourth fight of 2011, three of which have aired live on HBO. Enough muscle was put behind the promotion for last weekend’s show – also thanks in large part to local promoter Andrew Williams of R&R Promotions – to draw an impressive crowd, especially when considering they were up against the holiday weekend.
Another spectacular moment came in the show’s chief support, when Gary Russell Jr. scored a camera-friendly 1st round knockout over the normally durable Humberto Ruiz.
All in all, it was a good night not just for Golden Boy Promotions, but for the sport’s next generation of emerging stars. Aside from winning, they are also drawing interest in local cities, and carry the personality to leave fans asking for more.
“I was proud on the performance of all of the guys in their early 20’s – Adrien Broner, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gary Russell,” Schaefer stated. “There is a new generation of fighters. We have three guys who can fight and have charisma. They are entertainers. They are ticket sellers. I was thrilled with the reception in Cincinnati, and of course with Adrien Broner winning the title.”
Broner’s title winning effort comes three months after Golden Boy claimed its first home grown champion. Abner Mares – who turned 26 on Monday – put to rest the suggestion that the California-based company can’t build a fighter from root to fruit when he upended Joseph Agbeko in August to claim a bantamweight belt.
Enough controversy came of the fight to where they were ordered to do it again. The rematch takes place this weekend at the Honda Center in Anaheim, not very far from Mares’ hometown of Hawaiian Gardens, California. In more ways than one, the fight is close to home for Mares and his promoter.
“We talk about young fighters, and one that will always have a special place in our heart is Abner Mares,” Schaefer admits. “We are happy that he gets to make his first title defense close to home here in Southern California, in what will be another exciting fight. This time, Abner will clear up any lingering controversy and confusion from the first fight and set the record straight.”
The highly anticipated rematch airs on Showtime, as did their first fight four months ago. The fight is hardly the first between Showtime and Golden Boy, who in fact already have a deal in place for another rematch to take place early next year when Victor Ortiz faces Andre Berto.
It is the only fight currently listed on Showtime’s early 2012 schedule, largely due to the change in leadership atop the network. Ken Hershman stepped down from his role as general manager to command the ship at HBO, filling the role left behind by Ross Greenburg who stepped down earlier this year. Hershman’s new position at HBO officially goes into effect on January 9, 2012.
Taking Hershman’s place at Showtime will be Stephen Espinoza, who recently began his tour.
Golden Boy has established relationships with both networks and looks forward to continuing to do business with anyone willing to get involved with what is has to offer to the sport. The end of an output deal with HBO does not translate to Golden Boy being out of the HBO business altogether.
“I have a great with HBO and the incoming president, Ken Hershman. I have a relationship with Stephen Espinoza. I will be working with everybody,” Schaefer explains. “We have a deep stable of emerging fighters and enough quality product and content to provide to either network.
“It’s the last fight of the deal, but doesn’t mean we can’t get back on any time we have something to offer that’s beneficial to the future of the sport. Given the strength of our stable I could execute a deal to fight tomorrow.”
The only thing that Schaefer won’t be signing is a re-up deal with any network. The quality of the already existing product, he believes, should be enough to get his fighters where they need to be. Hopefully that will put to rest the fears exhibited by many throughout the industry.
“Since everyone is so worried about Golden Boy, we won’t do another output deal. Maybe then, people will be less worried about what we do.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com and an award-winning member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact Jake at [email protected]