THE-NONE-TOO-CLEAN: Why Golden Boy Promotions Is Just As Dirty As Any Other Double Dealer, or, The So-Called Future of Boxing

Two weeks have passed since Golden Boy Promotions pulled a nifty short con on the public with its “mystery weight” high jinks for the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez mismatch. And over the course of those two weeks, the boxing press, such as it is, went completely AWOL on the subject. A few blogs–The Queensberry Rules and Bad Left Hook among them–expressed disgust, but mainstream outlets were too busy thrusting their snouts into oversized cans of Gravy Train to work up a lather. Dan Rafael of ESPN.com touched on the topic last week, but placed most of the blame on Mayweather, as if a boxer handles media kits and press releases, prints up posters, finds a venue, drafts contracts, apprises the world at large about the size of the ring, etc. True, Mayweather was in on the hoax and often sounded like an amateur post-Structuralist deflecting questions about the weight, but the bottom line rests with the promoter of record.

When the real sources–-Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya–-were asked about the weight, they lied. Period. De La Hoya, without a certificate from the School of Hard Knocks ala Don King or an Ivy League degree ala Bob Arum (you know, the man De La Hoya once referred to as the biggest Jew from Harvard) foolishly said at one point that the fight would be at a catchweight of 143 pounds, and Schaefer disingenuously claimed that the mystery number would boost the fun factor of the weigh-in ceremony. It appears that the real reason they kept the weight and its contractual stipulations hush-hush until the last moment was to make sure negative press about the size differential would not affect pay-per-view sales. In the end, it was all for nothing, since negative press no longer exists in boxing. Other than some of the older writers like George Kimball, Ron Borges, Thomas Hauser, and Charles Jay, boxing no longer has many watchdog types in the media to alert consumers of the everyday shenanigans perpetrated in the Red Light District of sports. Michael Katz, Pat Putnam, and Malcolm “Flash” Gordon are long gone and no one has come along to replace them. Instead we have an army comprised of strange genetic crosses between cheerleaders and lapdogs posing as journalists.

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Have you ever wondered how Golden Boy managed to get these blanks dates on ESPN2 and HBO? Ostensibly, it is because GBP has managed to produce sponsors, but in the case of HBO, a subscription-based service, sponsors are irrelevant. HBO, 35 years in the boxing business, now has an exclusive output deal with a promotional firm that not only has a slimmer talent pool than Top Rank, but one that also seems to be losing ground recently. Robert Guerrero may be headed back to Goosen-Tutor promotions after a protracted legal battle, James Kirkland was sentenced to a stretch in the hoosegow, Victor Ortiz found out that his halo was made out of papier-mâché, Ricky Hatton may retire, David Haye is a loose cannon, Vivian Harris is so shot that the only possible reason GBP signed him is to feed him to HBO as a designated punching bag if he can manage to avoid getting knocked out in the meantime, Juan Manuel Marquez is 36, Shane Mosley is 38, Bernard Hopkins is closing in on middle age, and Oscar De La Hoya recently retired from getting smacked around by smaller fighters.

Their biggest star remains Floyd Mayweather Jr., a boxer who works with Golden Boy on a fight-by-fight basis and a handshake agreement. How happy can Mayweather be with his handshake buddies when half of the GBP front office ambushed him after his victory over Juan Manuel Marquez?

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For years HBO had a policy of not letting promoters grab the microphone in the ring after a fight (this should probably be known as the Don King Rule), but–voila!–two weeks ago there was Shane Mosley, a Golden Boy representative, pulling a wrestling stunt by bogarting a post fight interview to antagonize Floyd Mayweather Jr. In the background loomed the leering skull of another supposed Golden Boy “Executive,” Bernard Hopkins, resembling The Crypt Keeper without his cowl, jawing away at Mayweather Jr. like Classy Freddy Blassie except free of class.

None of these Golden Boy executives–Mosley, Hopkins, De La Hoya–are nearly as entertaining as Don King is, but for some reason they get to spew forth platitudes, cliches, sales pitches, and malapropisms with virtual impunity.

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In a few weeks we will all be lucky enough to read another “blog” entry on RingTV.com by Oscar De La Hoya (It is hard to tell if this blog is “ghosted;” true, it is poorly written, but it is no worse than anything else that passes for writing in boxing these days) about “The Return of Victor Ortiz” and headlines will pour forth quoting sage Oscar, the man who once said African-Americans cannot take body blows. Ortiz, who with each passing day sounds more and more like a jerk, now claims he fought Maidana with a “shattered” wrist. (He also claimed in the same interview with Boxingscene.com that Marcos Maidana is ducking him. Is it too early for him to be punch drunk?) What kind of promoter lets a fighter go into an important bout against a solid contender with a broken wrist? The answer is simple, of course, but why get into it? Ortiz has wasted enough cyber-time. Never has so much attention been lavished on a fighter who has accomplished so little.

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Almost nothing De La Hoya says in public is true at this point, but Schaefer, who adds a new ingredient–sanctimony–to the predictable recipe of smart and smug, would like the world to believe that he is a cut above a crooked Faro dealer. Less than a week after telling thesweetscience.com “I want to show people that we’re not anymore the sport of these smoke filled rooms,” Schaefer presided over the phony weigh-in debacle, a swindle if there ever was one. Unfortunately for boxing, it worked. With a reported one million buys, Golden Ploy Promotions succeeded in bilking the public and will now be further emboldened in future stings. Consumer fraud is serious business everywhere, it seems, but in boxing.

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Schaefer, like De La Hoya, also suffers from a hefty “Messiah Complex” and is convinced his every move will save boxing from itself. He was proud to bring Mayweather-Marquez to movie theaters (read: closed circuit) over a decade after Bob Arum did the same thing with De La Hoya-Chavez I; he swears he will get boxing back on network TV as if Golden Boy will be the first to do so since the network blackout of the early 1990s. Main Events managed to do it on NBC five years ago. Maybe Schaeffer will succeed where Main Events failed. A few bait and switch schemes here and there, a couple of false advertisements, some mystery catchweights, another Rocky Juarez title shot, two or three bouts featuring Deontay Wilder against the Philly Phanatic and things will work out just fine. They might even throw in a special beer promotion like they did with Mayweather-Marquez. The peculiar benefits of that Tecate promotion were outlined by Daniel Cohen of Ringside Report and can be found here: http://www.ringsidereport.com/rsr/news.php?rowstart=33#news_2205

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Golden Boy constantly lectures the world on its superiority to established boxing business traditions. Perhaps they mean that they are actually better than the old guard at playing the same tired games. Here are just a few of their innovative moves: Stealing fighters developed by other promoters (with the lure of HBO dates, since Golden Boy recently took HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg to a tattoo shop and had “Perfect Victim” inked across his ass in gothic script); inserting one of their “executives,” the undisputed gobbledygook king Bernard Hopkins, as a commentator on their own televised promotions; defrauding the public with false weigh-ins; using RingTV.com as a shill box; until recently offering the worst Pay-Per-View undercards imaginable; a lawsuit over the alleged theft of the idea behind “The Next Great Champ” flop television show, handing over a briefcase filled with $250,000 in small bills to Manny Pacquiao as a bribe, oops, signing bonus; pushing one dreadful ”catchweight” bout after another (usually involving a GBP executive); and programming dreck for ESPN2, HBO and Versus. Welcome to the future of boxing.

Tags: Amateur Post-Structuralists BERNARD HOPKINS Bob Arum Boxing Don King Floyd Mayweather GOLDEN BOY PROMOTIONS HBO Lapdogs Malcom Gordon Messiah Complex Oscar De La Hoya Richard Schaefer Ross Greenburg Shane Mosley The Crypt Keeper The Perfect Victim VICTOR ORTIZ

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