Dan Rafael: Richard Schaefer

Big changes to Team Mayweather?

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
Floyd Mayweather Jr. had just beaten Marcos Maidana in their rematch Saturday night and did so in far easier fashion than when they met in May. Yet when Mayweather arrived at the news conference after the fight, he did not seem happy.

Instead, Mayweather was low-key -- well, at least as low-key as Mayweather is capable of being. There was no boasting, no direction to chant, "Hard work! Dedication!" Even before the fight, Mayweather's ring walk was decidedly uneventful with zero of the usual theatrics we've become accustomed to. Shoot, for the first Maidana fight in May, there were juggling clowns leading him to the ring!

[+] EnlargeFloyd Mayweather
Al Bello/Getty ImagesDespite a clear victory over Marcos Maidana in their rematch, turmoil persisted within Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s corner.
Now it seems as though there is a reason: Mayweather was not a happy camper going into the rematch, and he appears ready to clean house on his team with the possible ouster of longtime adviser Leonard Ellerbe, now the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, and longtime cutman/hand wrapper Rafael Garcia.

"I think we're just getting to a point where we're outgrowing each other. I think I just see things my way and I think he sees things in another way," Mayweather was quoted as saying in an interview with Fighthype.com, which has served as Mayweather's mouthpiece website for years. "For example, this time around when I went out and fought, my WBC and WBA titles in both weight classes were on the line and I didn't approve of that at all. That's something I didn't approve of.

"Also, my daughter was sitting in the front row and her mother wasn't sitting next to her, so the ticket arrangements were totally wrong. It just got to a point to where everyone wants to do what they want to do instead of communicating and compromising like we used to. We got to this point by us communicating and compromising. ... There's just a lot of other things within our team that's just not right. Leonard wasn't in my corner, so, you know, it's not any hard feelings. It's just people outgrow one another. I'm not mad at him. There's no hard feeling like I hate the guy; not at all. No hard feelings whatsoever. People just outgrow one another, just like when people get a divorce. They're no longer on the same page mentally.'

Ellerbe could not be reached for comment, as his cell phone continually went directly to voice mail. Kelly Swanson, Mayweather's longtime publicist, also could not be reached for comment.

Garcia, who has been wrapping Mayweather's hands and serving as his cutman since 2001, did not wrap Mayweather for Saturday's fight and apparently was not happy about it. Mayweather said that Bob Ware took over the duties after being shown an alternative method by former Maidana strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, who was an unofficial member of Mayweather's camp after being fired by Maidana trainer Robert Garcia.

"He's one of the best, if not the best, but even Alex was able to show Rafael some different things, which was great, and then Bob, he wrapped my hands in training camp and it was the best it felt in my life," Mayweather told the website. "But I told Rafael that we work together as one, as a team, and his pay is not going to change. I told him there's enough to go around. ... I love Rafael and I'm going to always love him, but I don't know who's out and who's in. I don't know if Rafael Garcia left me. I don't know."

One thing Mayweather made clear is that adviser Al Haymon will remain on his team.

"I think when May [the likely next fight] comes around and you guys see [Showtime's] 'All Access' in May, I'll have a totally new team and probably a totally new staff," Mayweather said. "We may make a lot of changes in my team, but Al Haymon ain't going nowhere."

There has been rampant speculation that former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, with whom Mayweather is close, could be headed to Mayweather Promotions. If Ellerbe is out, it will only stoke the speculation that Schaefer is on his way, although he is embroiled in a $50 million arbitration with Golden Boy, which claims he is under contract into 2018.

Schaefer, who attended Saturday's fight and sat in the front row near Mayweather's corner, was traveling outside the country and told ESPN.com only, "I am retired for now."

'Mayhem' media center fertile for news

September, 13, 2014
Sep 13
LAS VEGAS -- Here are a few pieces of news I picked up this week while roaming the "Mayhem" media center while covering Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana II at the MGM Grand:

• I ran into interim welterweight titlist Keith Thurman (23-0, 21 KOs), who is here for the fight, and he told me that his planned October return has been pushed back until November to give his injured shoulder more time to heal. Thurman said his shoulder is OK and he has been rehabbing it but the change was "just to be on the safe side. There's no reason to hurry."

• I also caught up with former three-division titlist Abner Mares (27-1-1, 14 KOs) in the media center and he said that promoter Golden Boy and adviser Al Haymon are planning his return for November or December. He said he heard that interim featherweight titlist Jesus Cuellar called him out after knocking out Juan Manuel Lopez in the second round on Thursday night in Las Vegas and that he would be interested in the fight. Mares lost his featherweight belt by first-round knockout to Jhonny Gonzalez in a major upset 13 months ago and returned in July to outpoint Jonathan Oquendo.

• Former Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer has been at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas all week for Mayweather-Maidana II, but he is keeping a very low profile. He quit Golden Boy in June after a falling out with president Oscar De La Hoya, who filed a $50 million arbitration case against him. The case is ongoing. So while Schaefer is at the venue where his old company will co-promote the fight, he is on site because he is close to Mayweather and because one of his sons is working for Mayweather Promotions on the event.

• Junior featherweight Jorge Lara (25-0-1, 17 KOs), a 23-year-old southpaw from Mexico, has signed with adviser Al Haymon, according to Sampson Lewkowicz, Lara's promoter. Haymon now handles around 120 fighters.

Canelo headed back to HBO?

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
Alvarez/LaraJosh Hedges/Getty ImagesCanelo Alvarez could make HBO his next home in November or December.

In late 2013, when Richard Schaefer still ran Golden Boy Promotions, he and Canelo Alvarez announced that Alvarez would fight three times on Showtime PPV this year: March 8, July 26 and Nov. 22.

Indeed, Alvarez knocked out Alfredo Angulo on March 8 and then outpointed Erislandy Lara, albeit on July 12. Both were on Showtime PPV and both did solid numbers -- a little over 300,000 buys -- considering Alvarez had never before headlined a pay-per-view as the A side of the promotion.

But fight No. 3 of this year? Well let’s just say things aren’t what they were a year ago.

Schaefer resigned as Golden Boy CEO, Oscar De La Hoya has taken the day-to-day reins of the company and he is also quietly trying to repair the company’s fractured relationship with HBO, the network that basically put Golden Boy in business and the network on which De La Hoya became a mega PPV star. It is also the network that grew so tired of dealing with Schaefer and adviser Al Haymon, who controlled many of the fighters on Golden Boy’s cards, that HBO banished Golden Boy fighters from the network.

Canelo isn't going to go pay-per-view. We don't want to saturate the market. He's willing to go live on either Showtime or HBO. We'll see. Maybe another network. He has no contract with any network.

-- Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez
And although Showtime has been the exclusive home for Golden Boy’s biggest cards since, behind the scenes there are issues, namely that many of those cards Golden Boy puts on are controlled by Haymon, and De La Hoya isn’t happy about it. Why else do you think we saw the Danny Garcia-Rod Salka/Lamont Peterson-Edgar Santana mess?

Most of Haymon’s fighters who regularly appear on Showtime are not under contract to Golden Boy, even though GB promotes the cards. This was one of the issues that came between De La Hoya and Schaefer.

There was a recent thaw in the Golden Boy/HBO relationship a few weeks ago when it made a deal to televise the Nov. 8 light heavyweight unification fight between Bernard Hopkins, who is with Golden Boy, and Sergey Kovalev, whom HBO has under contract.

As it relates to Alvarez, he is under contract to Golden Boy and not involved with Haymon. And he got his start on premium cable on HBO and, this is most significant, his biggest fight looms with middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, who is aligned with HBO, which plans to carry Cotto's Dec. 13 title defense against an opponent to be determined on HBO PPV.

Alvarez met in recent days with Golden Boy executives to talk about his next fight and I am telling you there is a good chance that it winds up on regular HBO (and not Showtime or Showtime PPV). That would be a big deal and would likely deliver a huge viewership number for HBO.

“We had a very good meeting with Canelo and we’re talking with him about opponents,” Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez told ESPN.com on Friday. “We’re actually waiting for the date. He gave us a couple of dates and we’re looking into everything. But he wants to fight late November or early December. We have to work on it.”

The opponent is not set, but it is no secret that Alvarez could face big banger James Kirkland, whose last fight was on HBO (a knockout last December against Glen Tapia in a wild brawl).

Then Gomez caught me by surprise when he added, “Canelo isn’t going to go pay-per-view. We don’t want to saturate the market. He’s willing to go live on either Showtime or HBO. We’ll see. Maybe another network. He has no contract with any network. We’re working on things.”


That is the first time in a lonnngggg time that anyone in a position of authority has specifically stated that Alvarez was a television free agent and, further, used the H-word (HBO) in relation to his future.

It leads me to believe, without question, that Alvarez is likely headed back to HBO for his next fight. I believe it would be part of a deal that would also lock Alvarez into HBO for multiple fights, including a potential spring or summer 2015 showdown with Cotto for the middleweight title.

Let’s look at the late November and early December schedule, which means Nov. 15, Nov. 22, Nov. 28, Dec. 6 or Dec. 13.

Nov. 22 is out because that is Manny Pacquiao’s HBO PPV date with Chris Algieri. Nov. 28 is out because that is already ticketed for Terence Crawford’s next lightweight title defense on HBO. Dec. 13 is out because that is Cotto’s HBO PPV date.

That tells me that if Alvarez returns to HBO, it means a fight on either Nov. 15, which would be a huge telecast on which to promote Pacquiao’s PPV, or Dec. 6, which would be a great way to promote Cotto’s PPV the following week and remind people that wins by Alvarez and Cotto could lead to the super fight after that.

Now that Top Rank, Cotto’s promoter, and Golden Boy, Alvarez’s promoter, say they are ready, willing and able to make fights together, a Cotto-Alvarez fight could get done on HBO PPV without the involvement of Haymon, whom Top Rank does not work with.

All of this is not to say that Showtime couldn’t make a big offer to keep Alvarez for his next fight, but if I were a betting man here’s my take: Alvarez returns to HBO for a fight on Nov. 15 or Dec. 6 with the big payoff coming in May (Cinco de Mayo weekend) or June (Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend) for the biggest fight in boxing this side of Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao.

Check back with me in a few months to see how well my crystal ball works.

Another Golden Boy exit

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
The shakeup at Golden Boy Promotions continues.

Bruce Binkow, the chief operating officer and chief marketing officer, has also left the company. His last day was Friday. Whether he was fired or resigned, well, nobody is saying.

Binkow, who has been with the company since 2007, did not want to get into the details when contacted by ESPN.com, but did confirm that his last day was Friday.

Golden Boy also confirmed Binkow’s departure and offered ESPN.com a statement from spokesman Stefan Friedman.

“Golden Boy Promotions is solely focused on one goal -- giving fans the fights they want to see,” he said. “We are fully aware that some might have different aspirations, and we wish them well in their new endeavors. As for us, we will not relent until boxing's cold war is over and all promoters leave their egos at the door in favor of putting fans first."

Binkow, whose departure does not come as much of a surprise, is the second high-ranking company official to depart this month.

He was a close ally of Richard Schaefer, who resigned his position as chief executive officer on June 2 after months of internal battles with Oscar De La Hoya, the company co-founder, president and majority shareholder, over the direction of the company.

Nicole Becerra, Schaefer’s longtime executive assistant, also left the company in recent days.
Two days after Richard Schaefer resigned as the only chief executive in Golden Boy Promotions history, company co-founder, president and majority shareholder Oscar De La Hoya finally released a statement.

One can only assume he was talking about Schaefer’s not totally unexpected resignation since he did not mention Schaefer by name in the terse, 37-word statement that did not address any of the issues in a substantive way.

Not sure why it took De La Hoya -- or his handlers -- more than two full days since the resignation to come up with this but here it goes:

“Golden Boy Promotions is moving ahead on all fronts,” De La Hoya said. “We look forward to continuing and expanding our key position in the boxing world and to providing the public with the very best the sport has to offer.”

De La Hoya, who founded Golden Boy with Schaefer in 2002, will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday in Canastota, New York.
When Richard Schaefer resigned as chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions on Monday, it answered only one of the many questions about the situation -- namely, would he leave the company?

The answer was yes, as the long-rumored split between him and company president, co-founder and majority shareholder Oscar De La Hoya came to fruition after months of infighting. But now what? I don’t have all the answers, but I will try my best to answer some of the key questions.

What does this mean for Golden Boy/De La Hoya?

It means Golden Boy has lost the only CEO it has ever known, as well as pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., who has worked with Golden Boy on a fight-by-fight basis since 2007. After Schaefer announced his resignation, Mayweather followed him out the door, saying he would no longer have Golden Boy co-promote his events. That’s a huge financial hit to Golden Boy.

But De La Hoya brought Schaefer into his business and surely will find somebody else to run the company. Can that person be as successful in fostering relationships with networks, venues, sponsors, managers, fighters and media as Schaefer, who presided over the two richest pay-per-view events and two richest gates in boxing history? We’ll see.

Golden Boy still has its output deal with Fox Sports 1 and several quality fighters under contract. With Schaefer out of the picture, the way is clear for De La Hoya and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, his former promoter turned rival, to do business again in the wake of their recent reconciliation.

What does this mean for Schaefer?

Schaefer is a smart, hardworking, relentless businessman. He’ll be just fine. But will he start his own company? Will he go to work for Mayweather Promotions? Will he promote the many Al Haymon-advised fighters he used to promote at Golden Boy but who were not under formal Golden Boy promotional agreements? That was one of the issues that came between Schaefer and De La Hoya. The answers are unknown.

There’s also the question of Schaefer’s contractual status with Golden Boy. Schaefer resigned but remains a shareholder, and De La Hoya’s attorney claims that Schaefer is under contract through March 2018. This could get messy.

Even if a settlement is reached on the supposed signed employment agreement, what about a non-compete clause that would prevent Schaefer from promoting for a certain length of time? Those are hard to enforce in California, where Golden Boy operates. All of this is where the lawyers get involved.

Schaefer has been mum on his plans, but you can count on one thing: He will promote boxing in the future and will probably be successful.

Is Golden Boy going to work with Arum now that Schaefer is out of the way?

The short answer is definitely.

De La Hoya and Arum recently reconciled after many fierce battles between their companies. One of the issues between De La Hoya and Schaefer was De La Hoya’s desire to work with Arum again, and Schaefer’s refusal. With Schaefer gone, it’s only a matter of time until De La Hoya and Arum promote fights together.

The question, however, is: If the companies work together, what kind of fights can they make? It is unclear because nobody knows for sure which fighters Golden Boy has under contract and which fighters are strictly with Haymon. If Golden Boy has many of Haymon’s top welterweights under contract, it could open a good selection of opponents to face Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez.

That brings us to the next question.

What does this mean for the fighters with Haymon who fight regularly on Golden Boy cards but are not under contract to the company?

Haymon could continue working with Golden Boy and leave things status quo. Or, as many expect, he could gut the company and steer those fighters to some other company, namely Mayweather Promotions or perhaps an entity Schaefer may found.

Besides star client Mayweather, Haymon has numerous name fighters in his vast stable. Among those who are associated with Golden Boy: Danny Garcia, Marcos Maidana, Adrien Broner, Lucas Matthysse, Amir Khan, Deontay Wilder, Peter Quillin, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Erislandy Lara, Devon Alexander, Gary Russell Jr., Leo Santa Cruz, Paulie Malignaggi, Sakio Bika, Robert Guerrero, Lamont Peterson, Daniel Jacobs, Andre Berto, Victor Ortiz, Jermell Charlo, Jermall Charlo and Luis Collazo, not to mention 2012 U.S. Olympians Errol Spence Jr. and Marcus Browne, two top prospects.

It is not clear which of those fighters are under contract to Golden Boy, but it is believed that Khan, Guerrero and Alexander are (although my understanding is that Alexander’s June 21 fight is the final fight of his deal). Some fighters are known to not be under contract, including Porter, Thurman, Russell, Berto, Peterson and the Olympians.

Does this have any impact on the possibility of Mayweather-Pacquiao?

None. Mayweather remains under contract to Showtime and is with Haymon. Mayweather has also repeatedly said he would not do business with Arum, who recently re-signed Pacquiao to a two-year contract extension. From what I am told, Arum got financial help from HBO in closing the Pacquiao deal and then pledged loyalty to HBO on Pacquiao fights. The two boxers will keep fighting on different networks, and the same problems remain as far as how to split the money and various other issues. Bottom line: Still no fight.

Is a Pacquiao-Canelo Alvarez fight now possible?

Technically, yes, since it would mean matching a Top Rank fighter with a Golden Boy fighter who is not with Haymon. However, realistically, it is unlikely. Alvarez is on the verge of moving up to middleweight, and Pacquiao, a small welterweight, has talked about moving down to junior welterweight. Besides, after Pacquiao’s tough fight a few years ago with junior middleweight Antonio Margarito, Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach said he would never fight that big of an opponent again. Even if they wanted to make the fight, it is unclear whether HBO has rights to Pacquiao (I believe it does) and whether Showtime has rights to Alvarez (I’m not sure beyond his July 12 fight).

Are any already-scheduled fights going to be canceled now?


Where do Showtime and HBO stand in all of this?

Showtime has been the de facto home for Golden Boy’s major fights for the past couple of years, and Showtime Sports boss Stephen Espinoza is close to De La Hoya and Schaefer -- he used to be Golden Boy’s attorney. So he could continue doing Golden Boy fights if the promotion has the fighters who are ready for prime time. He could also keep working with the Haymon fighters and put on cards involving both factions.

As for HBO, it banned Golden Boy fighters -- and by extension Haymon fighters -- in early 2013 for various reasons. But HBO is also the main outlet for Top Rank’s major fights, and now that Top Rank and Golden Boy likely will work together again I expect Golden Boy fighters will be back on HBO soon. Haymon’s fighters? That’s another story. I don’t see them being welcome on HBO at this point.
Golden Boy Promotions already has the vacant featherweight title bout between Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko penciled in for a June 21 Showtime card at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., but it is also planning to add two more of its high-profile fighters to the show.

Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that besides Russell-Lomachenko, which the company won the right to promote in a purse bid, he is also hoping to add bouts involving welterweight Robert Guerrero and featherweight Abner Mares to make it a tripleheader.

Golden Boy and Guerrero, who has not fought since a one-sided decision loss to Floyd Mayweather in a May 2013 welterweight title fight, have been at odds. Guerrero has been trying to break his contract with the company, but his recent signing with adviser Al Haymon probably will alleviate that issue. Schaefer said he hopes Guerrero and the company can work things out and that he will fight on the show.

Mares lost his featherweight belt by first-round knockout in a big upset to Jhonny Gonzalez in August and was supposed to meet him in a February rematch, but it was scrapped after Mares suffered a rib injury in training and not rescheduled.

They might fight again later in the year, but Mares will instead fight before that happens. June 21 could be the date, Schaefer said. Mares manager Frank Espinoza told ESPN.com that he hoped to work out a deal for Mares to fight on that card.

Quillin caught up in cold war

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
Peter QuillinGeoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsWithout impressing fight fans, Peter Quillin, right, won an unanimous decision against Lukas Konecky.
WASHINGTON -- Since “Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin won his middleweight world title in October 2012, dropping Hassan N’Dam six times and winning a decision in an exciting fight, his opponents in three defenses have not exactly inspired much excitement.

Quillin has won the fights easily, by knockout against Fernando Guerrero and Gabriel Rosado and a near-shutout decision against outclassed Lukas Konecny in a tedious fight that drew heavy booing from the crowd Saturday night at the DC Armory.

If there is any fighter who is a clear victim of the frigid political landscape in boxing with HBO having banished Golden Boy Promotions and Al Haymon fighters from the network, it’s Quillin, who is on Showtime, which has almost nobody of significance for him to fight barring Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Canelo Alvarez perhaps looking to move up to middleweight to challenge for his title.

Meanwhile, HBO has contracts with middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and fellow titleholder Gennady Golovkin, the two best fighters in the division.

Those two are clearly the most interesting potential opponents for Quillin, but when sitting down with reporters at ringside after the card Saturday night, he said he would not let the lack of those fights get to him.

“Golden Boy will try to get whatever opponent they can for me," Quillin said. "I’m an American champion. A lot of those other guys, they come to our country to fight over here to fight in our homeland, and I’ve always said I was hoping to fight Sergio Martinez, Gennady Golovkin, all these different guys, but it’s not really my fault, the political thing going on. All I have to do is keeping doing me.

“We over here on this network [Showtime] looking for guys for me. I got 31 professional fights. At this point, I can’t worry about who I am gonna fight. I only worry about staying ready and being in shape. I’m gonna take one week off, and then I’ll be back in the gym.”

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said he is open to making a fight with any of the top guys, even if it means having Quillin on HBO, where he appeared before the network kicked Golden Boy to the curb.

“If Golovkin wants to have a fight with Peter, then what they should do is that they should make us an offer,” Schaefer said. “That would be a start.”

With Martinez scheduled to fight Miguel Cotto on June 7 and Golovkin seemingly headed for a July showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at super middleweight (as long as Chavez can iron out his deal with Top Rank, which has been difficult), that leaves Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs) with few choices.

The most probable opponent is Golden Boy and Haymon stablemate Daniel Jacobs, 27, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., as does the 30-year-old Quillin.

“Danny would like the fight, the Barclays Center would like the fight, and Peter is the kind of guy who fights anyone as long he gets properly compensated and it’s a challenge,” Schaefer said. “That’s definitely a possibility. But if [K2 Promotions and HBO] want to do a fight with Golovkin, let’s do it.”

Jacobs (27-1, 24 KOs) was ringside for Quillin’s fight Saturday. He called it while filling in for regular Showtime analyst Paulie Malignaggi, who was on the card getting knocked out by welterweight titlist Shawn Porter.

“If it's Danny Jacobs and they want to make a fight right there in Brooklyn, well, I live right up the street from the Barclays Center,” Quillin said. “It won't take me long to get there. I'll drive my Corvette and drop the top on it when I go.

“I think Danny is special. Danny had his shot to glory when he fought for the same belt [I have] against Dmitry Pirog [in 2010], and Danny had his time to shine. Now it’s my time to shine. The spotlight is on me. My job is not worry about the guy who is trying to get that spotlight.”

Jacobs was a big favorite against Pirog but got knocked out in the fifth round in their bout for the vacant belt that Quillin eventually won against N’Dam.

Quillin suggested that Jacobs doesn’t deserve the shot at him and should fight Curtis Stevens, another Brooklyn middleweight contender, for the right to get the title shot.

Either way, Quillin’s dance card looks to be a bit barren for the time being.

Alvarez takes hard road with Lara

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15

Former junior middleweight titleholder Canelo Alvarez could have picked just about any opponent he wanted and still made a big payday in his July 12 fight.

But Alvarez, motivated by naysayers who believe he would duck certain opponents, is not that kind of guy. He doesn't take the easy way out.

This is the man who demanded a tough fight with Austin Trout when many on his own team were against it. Alvarez wound up winning a close (but deserved) decision to unify belts last April.

Then Alvarez took on pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., the best in the business, and lost a lopsided decision and his undefeated record. But Alvarez dared to be great by taking the fight. Of course, the massive payday didn’t hurt either.

After rebounding to knock out Alfredo Angulo, a dangerous puncher, in a one-sided fight last month, Alvarez once again set his mind to facing the toughest opponent he could.

He asked Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer get him titleholder Erislandy Lara, who had been calling Alvarez out.

Their Showtime PPV headliner, agreed to Monday, will be a nontitle bout at 155 pounds (one over the division limit) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Alvarez apparently didn’t care about the title and didn’t want to pay a sanctioning fee, but the lack of a belt on the line in the fight and a one-pound difference from the championship weight is irrelevant. It will prove a lot if Alvarez can beat Lara, a technically savvy former Cuban amateur star and one of the more avoided fighters in boxing. The 30-year-old Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) also owns a knockout win against Angulo and a decision win against Trout.

"This fight against Erislandy Lara is very important in my career because it is an opponent with vast experience in both the amateur and professional field, and I am sure the styles will match to provide an explosive battle and great atmosphere that night," Alvarez said in comments translated by Golden Boy publicist Ramiro Gonzalez.

Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs), the 23-year-old Mexican star, said his desire is to fight the opponents the public and media want him to fight, which is why he insisted that Schaefer get him Lara, who pulled out of a previously scheduled defense against Ishe Smith to make it happen.

"Lara, the media and fans around the world wanted this match to take place, and here I am -- amply fulfilling them since I have no doubt that everyone will be completely satisfied.”

Win or lose, Alvarez's decision to face the best opponents available should earn him massive respect and serve as a lesson for others who look for the easy way out.
Muhammad Ali,  Joe FrazierHerb Scharfman/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesThe late heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, right, will have a nine feet tall statue in Philadelphia.

Light heavyweight titlist Bernard Hopkins is a Philadelphia fighter through and through, and the late heavyweight champion Joe Frazier is the ultimate Philly fighter.

So Hopkins, along with Golden Boy Promotions, announced that they have made “a significant donation to fund the completion of the previously announced Joe Frazier statue that will stand nine feet tall outside of Xfinity Live in Philadelphia's sports stadium complex.”

"Seeing this statue built has meant a great deal to me for a very long time," said Hopkins, a friend of the Frazier family. "I have always felt strongly that Smokin' Joe has a rightful place in Philadelphia history and that should be honored. We have a 'Rocky' statue and Rocky isn't even real. Joe Frazier embodies the Philadelphia fighting spirit and I am so happy to be able to pay homage to him in this way."

"When Bernard asked us to make a donation to help build the Joe Frazier statue in Philadelphia, we did not hesitate," said Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer, Hopkins’ promoter. “We firmly believe in preserving the great history and heritage of our sport and there is no better way than honoring some of the legends that have paved the way for the fighters today. Joe Frazier is one of the all-time greats and we are pleased to be a part of this project."

The Frazier statue will become part of Philadelphia's public works of art as voted on by Philadelphia's Art Commission. The statue was designed by Philadelphia artist Stephen Layne and will mirror Frazier's reaction after knocking down Muhammad Ali during their famous first championship fight in 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The statue is supposed to be unveiled between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Hopkins is training for a title unification fight against Beibut Shumenov on April 19 (Showtime) at the DC Armory in Washington. Members of the Frazier family are expected to be on hand to support Hopkins and to say thank you for the contribution at the April 17 final news conference.

Canelo dismisses Lara challenge

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
Erislandy LaraMaddie Meyer/Getty ImagesJunior middleweight contender Erislandy Lara wants a shot at Canelo Alvarez.

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book for a desperate boxer looking to land a big fight: Go to the star’s press conference and call him out. Demand that he fight you. Sometimes it even works.

It did for Antonio Tarver years ago when he made a scene at the press conference after Roy Jones Jr. had just beaten John Ruiz to win a heavyweight world title.

In his next fight, Jones returned to light heavyweight and gave Tarver a shot, outpointing him in a championship fight that turned out to be the first bout of their trilogy (which Tarver won 2-1).

The latest to pull the stunt was Houston’s Erislandy Lara, the skillful Cuban defector who crashed Canelo Alvarez’s post-fight news conference following his dominant 10th-round knockout of Alfredo Angulo on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Lara, a southpaw, has been looking for a major fight. He was upset that even though he survived two knockdowns and stopped Angulo in the 10th round to win a vacant interim junior middleweight title in June that it was Angulo who got the money fight with Alvarez instead of him.

Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs), who, like Alvarez, is promoted by Golden Boy, took to the podium at the press conference and, with Alvarez standing right next to him, said, “Everyone wants to see the fight. When can you and I fight?”

It was only Lara’s latest attempt to lure Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs) into facing him. Calm and cool, the Mexican star didn’t miss a beat.

“Everyone wants to see it? Who wants to see the fight,” Alvarez asked the crowd inside the media center at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

One person raised his hand – Luis DeCubas Jr., Lara’s manager.

“Isn’t that that your manager,” Alvarez asked Lara in a mocking fashion that drew laughter from the crowd. “This is not how you make fights, so you’ll have to wait.”

Alvarez is due back in the ring on July 26, according to the plan Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer laid out a few months ago calling for Alvarez to have three Showtime PPV fights in 2014.

Alvarez does not have an opponent, so Lara conceivably could get his wish, although there will be other candidates for Alvarez to pick from.

Lara, meanwhile, will have other business to attend to first. Schaefer said Lara is likely to defend his belt in Las Vegas on May 2 – on the eve of Floyd Mayweather’s welterweight unification fight with Marcos Maidana – against former titlist Ishe Smith of Las Vegas.

Smith (25-6, 11 KOs), thanks to being promoted by Mayweather, would be getting the interim title bout despite coming off losing his world title to Carlos Molina in September on the Mayweather-Alvarez undercard.

Thurman, Matthysse doubleheader

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
LAS VEGAS -- Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer likes for his fight cards to have a theme. For example, Saturday night’s Showtime PPV card, headlined by an expected brawl between Canelo Alvarez and Alfredo Angulo, is called “Toe To Toe,” for obvious reasons.

On April 26, Schaefer is planning to call a Showtime card “Heavy Hitters,” because he is penciling in two of the company’s most exciting punchers to appear in separate bouts against opponents to be determined -- interim welterweight titlist Keith Thurman (22-0, 20 KOs) and junior welterweight banger Lucas “The Machine” Matthysse (34-3, 32 KOs).

Schaefer said he hopes to stage the event at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., which has been home to many exciting fights over the years, although the venue is not locked in.

Thurman had a breakout 2013, rolling to a shutout decision against former welterweight titlist Jan Zaveck last March, knocking out Diego Chaves in the 10th round to win an interim title in July and then mowing down Jesus Soto Karass in the ninth round of an exciting fight in December.

Matthysse, from Argentina, had been on a knockout binge, including a stunningly easy third-round knockout of junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson in a nontitle bout in May. But then Matthysse, although the favorite, lost a decision in a hard-hitting fight to junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia in September on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Alvarez card.

Schaefer declined to talk about potential opponents, but said he was excited about having two of boxing’s most fan-friendly fighters on the same card.

“These are two of our big guns,” Schaefer said. “We want to put them in with good opponents and watch the punches fly.”

New opponent for R. Alvarez

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
Ricardo Alvarez will still fight, just not for the lightweight title as he had hoped.

Alvarez, the older brother of former junior middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez, was due to challenge lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa on Saturday night in one of the Showtime PPV fights on the undercard of his brother’s main event against Alfredo Angulo at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

However, this past Friday, Figueroa re-injured his left hand and was forced to pull out of his first defense against Alvarez.

Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer said he hoped to keep Alvarez (23-2-3, 13 KOs) on the card, and on Monday, he delivered. Although the bout will no longer be part of the pay-per-view telecast, Alvarez will fight Mexican countryman Sergio Thompson (28-3, 26 KOs), the longtime junior lightweight contender who is now fighting as a lightweight. They will meet in a 10-rounder on the non-televised part of the card.

Golden Boy also formally announced that the lightweight bout between former two-division titleholder Jorge Linares (35-3, 23 KOs) of Venezuela and Japan’s Nihito Arakawa (24-3-1, 16 KOs) was being moved up the card to be part of the pay-per-view broadcast, where it will replace Figueroa-Alvarez.

Showtime had planned to air Linares-Arakawa during the 90 minutes before the beginning of the PPV telecast. With the lineup shuffle, it instead will air a one-hour “Countdown Live” pay-per-view preview show beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

Tomlinson inks deal with GBP

December, 26, 2013
Unbeaten Australian junior lightweight Will Tomlinson has signed a five-fight promotional deal with Golden Boy Promotions, the company announced on Wednesday.

Tomlinson (21-0-1, 12 KOs), 27, has fought all of his bouts in his home country, but signing with Golden Boy means he will begin boxing in the United States.

“Golden Boy is the big leagues of boxing, and I'm very excited to be a part of the team,” said Tomlinson, who has relocated to Los Angeles, where he will train. “I believe 2014 is going to be a big year for me, and with Golden Boy in my corner, the sky's the limit.”

Tomlinson has faced limited opposition, but he is coming off his most notable victory, a unanimous decision victory on May 16 against former junior lightweight titlist Malcolm Klassen of South Africa. Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer believes Tomlinson is ready to raise his level of competition.

“Will Tomlinson has paid his dues on the Australian circuit and he's ready for the international stage. The fans here in the States will enjoy watching him fight for sure,” said Schaefer, adding that Tomlinson’s first fight with the company has not been scheduled yet.

As an amateur, Tomlinson made it to the 2007 world championships and then turned pro in July 2008.

Candidates for Canelo's next fight

December, 11, 2013
Canelo AlvarezAlexis Cuarezma/Getty ImagesCanelo Alvarez is ready to get back in the ring early next year, but now he needs an opponent.

This much we know: Former junior middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez has a March 8 Showtime PPV date at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. What we don’t know is who Alvarez will face.

Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer has said publicly that he has made an offer for more than $10 million to Miguel Cotto to face Alvarez. Obviously, Cotto is the most attractive opponent out there for Alvarez.

But as each day passes, and based on what I hear from folks involved, it seems more and more likely that Cotto is going to pass on the fight and instead go for a June fight against middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. Cotto can’t make as much money against Martinez as he can to face Alvarez, but he also can’t get an opportunity to become the first Puerto Rican fighter to win a world title in four weight classes by facing Alvarez.

Cotto can do that against Martinez and that is obviously worth something and a reason he would leave money on the table.

So if you believe, as I do, that Cotto is ultimately going to go for Martinez rather than Alvarez, who then should Alvarez fight?

Alvarez will be in San Antonio this week for two reasons -- to watch brother Ricardo Alvarez’s fight on the Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana undercard and also to meet with Schaefer to go over details related to March 8, including discussing opponents.

Here’s my quick look at the candidates as I see them with the caveat that Alvarez is staying at 154 pounds and not moving up or down in weight. I really see only four candidates who make any sense, especially because I do not see any of the plethora of good welterweights that Golden Boy promotes being viable to move up in weight for March 8.

Here are the candidates:

• Erislandy Lara: He holds an interim belt at 154 and easily dominated Austin Trout on Saturday night, dropping him and rolling to a points win. It was Trout’s second straight loss. The first was a very competitive, tough decision loss to Alvarez in April.

After Saturday’s fight Schaefer said Lara was a candidate for the Alvarez fight. Lara is good. Very good. He is certainly a worthy opponent. That said, I think the last thing in the world Alvarez or Golden Boy want is the slickest, most technical fighter in the division to be Alvarez’s opponent in his first fight after he was so easily outboxed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September. Lara might very well give him a boxing lesson like Mayweather did.

From a business point of view, it just doesn’t make any sense, either. Alvarez generates enormous money and has a huge fan base. Lara is not a draw at all. Alvarez needs to be brought back from his loss appropriately, not thrown in with a guy who could hand him a second loss and severely injure his brand. Alvarez is only 23 and his team should be looking long term.

• Carlos Molina: Molina has a world title, which he won on the undercard of Mayweather-Alvarez in an awful fight. Showtime has an option on his next fight so a bout with Alvarez can be made easily, especially because Molina wants the fight.

He is kind of like a poor man’s Lara -- very good, very technical and not overly exciting. In fact, he and Lara fought to a draw in 2011 in a fight many believe Molina won. I can see Alvarez and Golden Boy gambling and taking this fight. Like Lara, Molina isn’t a draw. He is not unbeatable, though, and the allure of a world title surely is appealing to Alvarez. Although let’s be honest -- does anyone think this fight would be exciting?

• Alfredo Angulo: Angulo is a straight-ahead brawler who makes exciting fights. He lost his last fight in June by 10th-round TKO in a rumble with Lara, whom he knocked down twice before Angulo suffered a severe orbital injury.

Although he lost to Lara, there’s no doubt a fight between Alvarez and Angulo would be a crowd-pleasing fight. Angulo also is a bigger draw than Lara or Molina, and that’s something to consider for a pay-per-view fight.

Even more important is the fact that if you are guiding Alvarez, who could have a long career worth perhaps hundreds of millions, matchmaking is paramount. Angulo simply has the better style for Alvarez to face at this stage of his career than Molina or Lara and also is the biggest draw among the candidates. Personally, I think Alvarez-Angulo would be one helluva fun fight.

• Sergey Rabchenko: Rabchenko, from Belarus, is the European champion but also ranked No. 1 in the WBC’s poor rankings. Alvarez is No. 2, so this fight could be billed as an eliminator for a title shot. Since Mayweather probably will vacate the title at some point, it would set up Alvarez to reclaim the belt that means so much to him.

Schaefer said Rabchenko is a possibility, although I believe he’s a major dark horse. It’s a deal that could be made easily since Rabchenko is promoted by Ricky Hatton, who has a longstanding relationship with Golden Boy, his former promoter.

There’s nothing fancy about Rabchenko’s style, so he works for Alvarez from the boxing perspective, but he is totally unknown to American and Mexican fans. He would be a non-entity on a PPV promotion and that’s not good.

That’s my breakdown. My money is on Angulo getting the fight. He makes the most sense because he gives Alvarez the best chance to win and he is, by far, the most marketable name of among the candidates.