by Rick Reeno
Earlier this week, Golden Boy Promotions and Fox Sports announced the finalization of a multi-media rights extension to televise live boxing in the United States and internationally. As part of that multi-year agreement, Golden Boy will establish a new Monday night boxing franchise on Fox Sports 1 [FS1], Fox Sports' new, national multi-sport cable channel launching on August 17the.
Under the new agreement, Fox Sports retains exclusive domestic rights to 48 live two-hour events (featuring two or three fights per event) annually. FS1 is scheduling 24 live events per year, with Fox Deportes, the nation's leading Spanish-language sports network, airing all 48 events live, an increase from 36 in the previous deal. The 24 events on FS1 will all originate in the United States, and most are expected to run on Monday nights once the network launches. Fox Deportes will simulcast the same 24 events as FS1 in Spanish, plus air 24 others that originate from Mexico. The FS1 events will also be available for presentations on Fox Sports regional networks and Fox International Channels
The Fox agreement comes only a few weeks after HBO made an internal decision to sever their business relationship with Golden Boy.
BoxingScene.com sat down with Golden Boy's CEO, Richard Schaefer, to discuss the new agreement with Fox, the new Monday night series on FS1, and several side topics.
BoxingScene.com: Everyone has heard about the new television agreement with Fox. Discuss what this deal means.
Schaefer: I think it is the most important deal that we've concluded as a company since we've been formed. I think this is a deal that will showcase the top emerging talent, so this is not just going to be some series that is pushed into the wee hours when most people are asleep or a timeslot that is not attractive to sponsors and viewers. This is a primetime series consisting of 24 originally produced live events, from the United States, on the Sports 1 network, which is [going to be one of the] largest cable outlets in the history of sports. [The network is] going to go live on August the 17th. [The channel] will be available in 90 million homes.
To compare, if you are going to have primetime exposure and we're talking about Monday nights - which is a great TV night. It is one reasons we have Monday Night Football, it's just a great TV night. And now we have a primetime designated slot. And by the way, when there is Monday night football we have the option of potentially changing to Tuesday nights. To have [a deal like this in place] is exactly what the sport of boxing needed.
BoxingScene.com: How does this series differ from the events being televised on HBO and Showtime?
Schaefer: As good as Showtime is, and the as good as HBO is, they are really not in the business of building up young fighters. When we have a fighter on an undercard, it is hard to build up a fan following without having those eyeballs. So when a fighter does finally get onto Showtime or HBO, because of his potential, they are usually unknown because nobody has seen them before and there is no name recognition. And I think this is the reason why UFC has been so successful, because they have that open platform for those fighters who later became stars within the UFC. And boxing has never really had that.
I think that is one of the reasons why there is less of a connection today between the public and the boxers. Not like before when you had Oscar De La Hoya and Sugar Ray Leonard televised on free over the air networks. This is a big thing for us, but this is a bigger thing for the sport of boxing, to have a powerful force like Fox putting their weight behind boxing.
[On Wednesday] I had a long meeting [with Fox] and I was there most of the day. We went through all of the different opportunities and marketing and platforms and so on, and I have to tell you that I've hardly ever been in a meeting with such a large group of people and they were all enthusiastic, excited, coming up with ideas and generally interested in making this [agreement] a homerun. We are totally, totally thrilled and this is very important for us.
BoxingScene.com: Did this agreement come at the right time, considering everything that happened with HBO?
Schaefer: This is not a deal that happened because of HBO. Obviously this is not a deal that gets put together in a matter of ten days. This really had absolutely nothing to do with [what happened with HBO]. Like I always say, I like to make deals, I like to do things strategic. Right now I am working on two other platforms, two other opportunities and these things take time. Besides putting together the matches, I am looking at the strategy on how to move Golden Boy and as a result of that we're moving boxing forward and making it more popular and making it more fan friendly, so we're working non-stop to implement these things to sports fans.
BoxingScene.com: The possibility of working with HBO again.
Schaefer: The HBO situation is what it is. I believe, and not only in boxing but especially in boxing - you never say never. I am convinced that sooner or later cooler minds will prevail and there will be a relationship again, because I respect them and I tend to believe that they respect me as well. Whatever time [period] it is, we'll let the time pass and we'll take it from there.
BoxingScene.com: The strength of the business relationship with Showtime/CBS.
Schaefer: With Showtime, with [sports head] Stephen [Espinoza], [CBS chief] Les Moonves and [Showtime CEO] Matt Blank, we have partners that are absolutely enthusiastic about the sport, go to the events and they embrace it. They realize the opportunity and appreciate the fact that Golden Boy today is without any question - love us or hate us and it doesn't really matter - you can't ignore the fact that Golden Boy is the leading boxing promotion company in the world - be it based on dates, be it based on revenues, be it based on the strength of the talent, be it based on TV revenues, be it based on sponsorships, be it based on tickets sold - whatever formula you want to apply - we are the leading promotional platform and we are going to continue to grow in this business.
We are a young team, and enthusiastic team and we will continue to build the sport and try to bring the greatest matchups to fight fans.
BoxingScene.com: The issue of double standards in boxing.
Schaefer: It is actually interesting when you go and look at some of those matchups [being purchased by HBO from other promoters]. And let's be honest, if some of those fights would have happened or would have been offered in the Ross Greenburg era, and they were put together by Golden Boy - you would have the industry writing stories like there was no tomorrow. Ross would be attacked, Golden Boy would be attacked. It would be ugly out there. I see that not one, and I absolutely mean not one writer or reporter is saying a word.
Rick, I have to tell you honestly that i find it interesting, I find it strange and I find it [to be] double standards. Why that is? And Rick that goes for you as well, I don't understand it.
BoxingScene.com: You know me, I don't add the side commentary to my news briefs. I just report things straight. I'm a reporter, so I just report the information. Even if I think a finalized fight is an absolute mismatch, I usually don't inject those opinions in a new brief. I'm not a columnist. The columnists are usually the writers who inject their opinions, be it positive or negative, regarding a subject.
Schaefer: I'm going to tell you why [this is happening]. I'm going to answer my own question. Why is it, for example, if I were the promoter of [Nonito] Donaire and I was involved with that whole group, and suddenly Victor Conte abruptly resigns - suddenly in the middle of one of the most important training camps for his fighter, and nobody really writes a story about it.
We all know in the industry what was floating around and nobody really wrote anything about it. I think there was one story , on your site, and it was sort of like a politely worded story. Now if that was Golden Boy and their fighter, can you imagine the stories being written with conspiracies and stories about drug testing. The stories would be flying out there like there is no tomorrow. Now you see the double standard.
BoxingScene.com: Why do you believe Golden Boy is such a target?
Schaefer: When you are number one - these things are normal because when you are number one you are always held to higher standards and you are always a target. Because nobody ever goes after number two or number three. When [Golden Boy President] Oscar [De La Hoya] was the best and the most popular fighter in the world, he had his fans but he had a lot of people who were after him and a lot of people who challenged him.
And in a way, because he became the most powerful and the biggest boxing promoter - he has become a target again. People belittle him and attack him, but he knows that goes with the territory. Oscar know that, Floyd Mayweather knows that. Floyd Mayweather is the best fighter in the world so he is a target.
And it does not matter if you are in boxing or whatever business you are in. You are BoxingScene and you are the number one site and you have a lot of haters out there. If you were one of those little bullsh*t sites, nobody would care about Rick Reeno, nobody would be after you - but because you are number one they go after you - but again that goes with the territory.
That's why I am not surprised about these things, and I don't think it’s the right way to deal with things, but it's okay because it goes with the territory when you are number one.