By Rick Reeno
Golden Boy Promotions CEO, Richard Schaefer, admits that junior middleweight contender Erislandy Lara (18-1, 12KOs), because of his fighting style, is a tough sell for the fans and the cable networks.
On Saturday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California - Lara survived two knockdowns to stop fan favorite Alfredo Angulo in the tenth round after one of his punches potentially broke Angulo orbital bone of his left eye.
The win was impressive, but Lara - like his talented Cuban counterparts Yuriorkis Gamboa and Guillermo Rigondeaux, present a technical style of boxing that most fight fans do not appreciate.
Because of their fighting styles, the same fighters - whether they win or lose - are repeatedly getting lucrative opportunities with the cable networks - and fans continue to support them by purchasing tickets to watch them fight.
"You look at a Marcos Maidana, a Josesito Lopez, a Danny Garcia, a Lucas Matthysse, an Amir Khan, a Canelo, a Kirkland, an Angulo, and the list goes on and on. That's what the fight fans and the TV networks want to see. They are very invested in winning and losing, but they want to see exciting fights. It used to be a for a long time, that you had to go back in line and start over again. That's not the case anymore. Josesito Lopez, just because he lost - it doesn't mean he goes back to the end of the line, he's right back in the mix. I think up until a few years ago that's' not the way boxing worked. I think we took a page out of the UFC's playbook, because with the UFC excitement is rewarded," Schaefer said to BoxingScene.com
"I think TV networks, at least Showtime, is rewarding excitement as well. When you see a fight like a Rignodeaux or a Gamboa - they don't have very crowd pleasing styles. And I think as a result it makes them much more difficulty to sell, and it has nothing to do with promoting."
After the fight was over, Schaefer was annoyed by some of the comments being made by members of Lara's team, who the Golden promoter firmly believes were over-blowing the Cuban boxer's status in the industry.
"When DeCubas Sr. and other people with him are jumping up and down and telling me what a beast Lara is and how sensation he is and how entertaining he is - I'm like 'wait, slow down a bit.' He won, but lets be realistic and lets be honest here with each other. I think we knew Lara was a good boxer but we didn't know how he would react if he got dripped. And he got dropped twice. He showed that he can deal with adversity and that I was very impressed with," Schaefer said.
"But if you are going to come to me, whether it's DeCubas Sr. and whoever else it, and talk realistic with me - then I am all for it. But don't come to me and say that he's one of the most exciting guys ever - because he is not. Lets not bullsh*t each other. That doesn't mean that he's not a good fighter, because I'm very proud of what Erislandy Lara showed. I think what really pissed me off more, is people from his team making these unrealistic moments. Lets call it what it is, he is a different kind of fighter which is okay. Who would want to see Erislandy Lara against Austin Trout? That wouldn't be an exciting fight. It might be an interesting fight on paper. I just want to do more fights where you know going in that it's a potential fight of the year candidate."
Even with his TKO defeat, the networks are almost sure to purchase, because of his fighting style, a fight involving Angulo before they even consider buying a fight involving Lara. In order to sell Lara, Schaefer's matchmakers, Eric Gomez and Robert Diaz, have to match him against the right opponent - where a fighter like Angulo is almost never in a bad fight regardless of the boxer in the other corner.
"I think the reason boxing is having such a resurgence is because we're making exciting fights. I know that Andre Berto vs. Soto Karass is going to be a hell of a fight and sports fans know it and I know tickets are going to be sold out in San Antonio. You look at the matches we're making and excitement is being rewarded. I think we need to continue to listen to the fight fans and make exiting fights. That doesn't mean that Rigondeaux and Lara, and some of these fighters that I mentioned have no place - that's not true. But from a matchmaking point of view you have make sure they are in exciting fights," Schaefer said.
"Last night, Angulo-Lara was an exciting fight. I wouldn't call it a Fight of The Year candidate but it was an exciting fight. But the question I would ask you, and the question I would ask Luis DeCubas Sr. ..why was it an exciting fight? Was it an exciting fight because of Angulo or was it an exciting because of Lara? Lets' not bullsh*t each other and that's my point here. I was very impressed with Lara, the way he reacted after he was dropped but I was also very impressed with Alfredo Angulo. Angulo is the kind of fighter who is never in a bad fight. Would I like to see him again? Of course I would, and all of those fight fans - 8,600 plus, they will show up again when Alfredo Angulo is going to fight. That is really refreshing and that is great for the sport of boxing."