By Robert Morales
HBO on Monday morning made a rather startling announcement. For now it is no longer going to buy fights from, or do business with, Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions.
An HBO official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, expounded.
"We just felt it was best to align ourselves with people who share the same common goals as us," the official said. "We want to take young fighters and put them on the biggest boxing television platform and hopefully launch them into stardom. Fighters like Gennady Golovkin, Andre Ward, Brandon Rios, Tim Bradley (none of whom are promoted by Golden Boy). We are just not on the same page right now (with Golden Boy). But this is boxing, so you never say never."
The official was asked if this move has anything to do with HBO recently losing Floyd Mayweather Jr. to rival Showtime. Mayweather does not have a promotional contract with Golden Boy, but Golden Boy has promoted his past several fights.
The official said that was not the case and the decision had more to do with Golden Boy fighters like Amir Khan, Danny Garcia and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, whose careers were launched by HBO only to see them bolt to Showtime when terms for future fights could not be agreed upon.
The official described that kind of business as "very unproductive."
Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy, said he believes this clearly is a result of the aftermath of the aforementioned fighters leaving HBO for Showtime. Schaefer, however, said the statement issued by HBO Sports President Ken Hershman regarding this ordeal is contradictory.
"To use a statement that they are going to focus on the best fighters in the best weight classes, I mean, the best and most exciting weight classes are 140, 147 and 154," Schaefer said. "You look at the strength of our stable in those three weight classes, I mean, how can you say that you want to put together the best fights with the best fighters when the best fighters - and I'm not exaggerating, about 80 to 85 percent - are with Golden Boy?"
Schaefer said he does not believe this will hurt Golden Boy, which has a very strong relationship with Showtime and its vice president in charge of sports, Stephen Espinoza.
"You look at the strength of our stable, you look at our lineup, you look at the dates we have, you look at the commitment Showtime and CBS has made toward the sport of boxing, why would it?" Schaefer said. "And this is not the same Showtime of two, three years ago when they were under Ken Hershman. This is a new Showtime under Stephen Espinoza. Does it hurt HBO not to do business with Golden Boy?. "Does it hurt their subscribers?"
Hershman, who at least for now will have no further comment, previously occupied the post Espinoza now holds at Showtime, which hired Espinoza in November 2011 after Hershman announced he was leaving for his current post at HBO.
Robert Morales covers boxing for the LA Daily News and BoxingScene.com.