Boxing: leonard ellerbe

Schaefer: 'The One' will break PPV record

September, 4, 2013
Floyd Mayweather and Canelo AlvarezTom HoganWill Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez make history on Sept. 14?
The excitement, which included five-hour waiting times, and the masses he saw come out during the 11-city press tour for "The One," the clash between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez, has Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer believing that a pay-per-view gross sales record will be broken when the tallies come in from the Sept. 14 event in Las Vegas.

Schaefer presided over a luncheon for select media in Manhattan on Wednesday, and spoke, along with Mayweather Promotions' Leonard Ellerbe, Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza, and Golden Boy COO Bruce Binkow. They shared some facts, figures and stats, which accentuated what Schaefer believes is a surge in momentum for the sport as a whole.

Ellerbe drew hearty chuckles when he shared anecdotes which he said opened his eyes to how big "The One" pairing could turn out to be. The fighters did an event in D.C., where Ellerbe grew up, and figured out just how many people were there to see the 22-year-old Mexican when, "I was booed in my own hometown!"

Mayweather had put a humorous spin on the fact that Canelo's rooters are more voluminous than the event's planners originally factored in when, Ellerbe shared, Floyd looked out at the sea of faces during the PR event in Mexico, and he said, "Man, I'm big in Mexico!"

The elevation, if this inkling plays out as Schaefer said it is trending, with Canelo emerging as a potent "A-side" in his own right, could threaten the all-time mark for a boxing pay-per-view event; $132 million was the gross take from the 2007 Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya fight, with revenue coming from a record 2.48 million buys. Doing a bit under 2 million buys (at $64.95 or $74.95 for HD) on Sept. 14 would surpass the $132M mark (at a $54.95 retail cost). Schaefer believes breaking the 2.48 million buy mark is possible, because so many trends are surpassing expectations, including the speed of ticket sales at the MGM, the closed circuit, sellouts at movie theaters showing the event, etc. And the gross record? "I am convinced it will be broke," he told NYFightblog.

I chatted with a few women who are part of the promotion, support staff and one person who is part of the ancillary marketing strategy. They all spoke favorably, a couple with a dreamy look in their eyes, when they spoke of Canelo. This fighter inspires the most naughty daydreams, pound for pound, I'd say. I put it straight to Schaefer: Does Canelo beat The Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya, in the realm of handsomeness, and ferocity of romantic adoration? "I'm Swiss," he demurred, chuckling. "But I saw more females following Canelo [during the media/fan tour] than I ever saw for Oscar."

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Do we treat Floyd fairly? (Part 3)

April, 24, 2012
Leonard Ellerbe is Floyd Mayweather's right hand man, the person who most speaks for him, and on his behalf, in public. I asked the advisor if he thinks the media treat his man Mayweather fairly, especially in comparison to Manny Pacquiao.

"Floyd has a target on his back," Ellerbe said. "Manny Pacquiao is a human being like the next person. He has done a whole lot of things the public is not aware of. But it is not our business. We could care less. But there's a double standard, damn right. If Floyd's name were attached to (some of the same) allegations, it'd be times ten. In the media there is a double standard."

Is that because so many of us, the writers, are Caucasian, I asked.

"I'm not going to put it on a race issue," he said. "I put it on a double standard. I'm not going into the race issue."

Ellerbe acknowledged, as I'm sure many of the readers have been thinking as they've read this mini-series of blog posts, that some of it comes with the territory. However, "the territory" is not defined the same by Ellerbe and the anti-Floyd crowd. To Ellerbe, many of the slings and arrows aimed at Floyd are launched because of jealousy, because "haters" can't stand the fact that he is the best of breed in the sport, one of the highest earning athletes in the world. (In 2010, according to Forbes, he made $65 million, second among athletes only to Tiger Woods ($105 million), and that was mainly off one fight, vs Shane Mosley. In 2011, fighting once, against Victor Ortiz, Floyd didn't make the Forbes cut of the Top 50 earners in sports while rival Pacquiao was No. 24 with $25 million) Michael Eric Dyson during Saturday's HBO presentation of "Floyd Mayweather: Speaking Out," touched on the subject, offering the theory that his excellence, combined with his wealth, his race and of course his "outspokenness," leaves Floyd open to envy-fueled rants. Those not caring for Floyd's manner, or accepting the Dyson or Ellerbe theses, tend to point to other reasons for the "hating" on Floyd.

These days, they bring up his altercation with his ex, which earned him a forthcoming jail term, and cite that as reason enough to assess the fighter in a harsh manner. Just three days ago, a man described as an "associate" of the boxer, Ocie Harris, was sentenced to 18 years or less in prison for shooting at two men in a car in Las Vegas in 2009, after one of the men argued with Floyd outside an inline-skating rink in Vegas. Those arguing that Floyd reaps what he sows, and that the media plays it right down the middle cite comments which they believe prove Mayweather is a racist; during a Ustream rant in Sept. 2010 he said he'd make Pacquiao, a Filipino, "make some sushi rolls and cook some rice" and that "we're going to cook him with some cats and dogs" and also publicly called him, and almost a year later his own dad, a "f----t."

Ellerbe told me that Floyd doesn't get bogged down on the "haters."

"Floyd knows how to handle and deal with all the above," he said. "He excels when there's a dark cloud around him. He uses it as motivation. It doesn't affect Floyd what others are saying, not the least bit. He could care less. His object is to go out and please himself first, then fans. All the naysayers and critics he could care less."

I wrote about Mayweather's statements on the first 24/7, when he poked at PETA. Ellerbe says that the media here is inclined to play up Floyd "missteps" than Pacquiao's. Let me get out ahead of the anti-Floyd crew, who will likely point out that cockfighting is legal in the Philippines, while dogfighting is illegal in the United States.

"Manny's had cockfights he attended, so what? I see nothing written about him running a cockfighting operation. What was his level of involvement? I'd be willing to bet he probably orchestrated or financed whatever they had going on. Floyd said whatever he said, that's 24/7. Critics are people that aren't happy with themselves. They don't walk in Floyd's shoes, don't have a clue the things he goes through on a daily basis, what it takes to be on top. All they can do is sit around and speculate. It goes in one ear and out the other."

I'm postulating here, but I tend to believe that it doesn't totally go in one ear and out the other. I believe Mayweather has a sensitive side, which he admittedly hides pretty well, and he covers up with his bragging and affiliation with 50 Cent and guys like Harris, and such.

So, if indeed there is a double standard, and Mayweather gets extra scorn from the media, for whatever reason, then I think it serves him well. One, he is the most successful "heel" in all of sports. More people tune in to see him lose than win, and his earnings reflect just how many haters are willing to pay for the privilege of maybe seeing him maybe get his mouth shut. When I focus on his PETA spat, or the Ustream rant, or the Jeremy Lin Tweet, or the upcoming jail term, I am putting money in his pocket. And two, if his energy ever lags, I think he taps into the "hater's" critiques, and that gets him through another late night ultra-grueling workout.

Readers, as always I am most eager to hear your take. Feel free to follow me on Twitter. Weigh in!

Do we treat Floyd fairly? (Part 2)

April, 23, 2012
When pondering if the boxing media treats Floyd Mayweather fairly, can we all agree it's not like Manny Pacquiao is St. Manny -- that he has been prone to behavior that proves he struggles with embracing the hard right over the easy wrong?

There were reports of him cheating, stepping out on his wife, in 2009 and again this February. The tabloid press in the Philippines is all over it, but it doesn't get much traction here. Is that because it's out of sight, out of mind? Because our press doesn't have solid access to confirm or deny the allegations? Or because our press is more likely to tread lightly with Pacquiao because he is a humble warrior, he is respectful of our media and doesn't accuse them of bias or the like?

Would the press have handled an admission of a fondness for cockfighting from Mayweather in the same manner as when Pacman, in the fall of 2011, admitted he liked to watch the birds battle? I can't say for sure, because this has too many apples-and-oranges elements to it. But at the very least, I think the question bears asking.

For sure, many Mayweather fans think Pacquiao gets a free ride from us. Many believe that it is the height of hypocrisy for the Bible-thumping Congressman, newly immersed in a hardcore commitment to the Word of the Lord, to be simultaneously shilling for the cognac Hennessy. Me, I don't possess any real interest or knowledge of where the Bible stands on booze, so it's not an issue that resonated with me. But again, the question at least bears asking. And maybe it has been asked and answered enough? I can't say.

It's fair to say that we covered Mayweather's regular dust-ups with Johnny Law, those beefs with security guards and his ex, quite thoroughly. Did we cover those flareups that much more intently because he isn't the humble warrior maybe some of us lionize that much more? If he had that beatific Pacquiao grin, and wasn't prone to the incendiary Ustream rants and such, would we have dug in as hard? The question bears asking.

About that flareup with his ex. The courts decided it was more than a flareup, as Mayweather was sentenced last December to serve three months or less for domestic violence. Mayweather periodically protested during his bad run of outside-the-ring beefs that he was a target, that people would pester him, in the hope of provoking him and hitting a lawsuit jackpot. His advisor Leonard Ellerbe, on last Saturday's "24/7," said that Mayweather took a plea to shield his family from further scrutiny and stress, and many reacted with skepticism to Ellerbe's explanation.

But I want to keep an open mind on the subject. No, not on hitting women; I'm not a dunce like Jose Sulaiman. Violence is never an answer, really, for anything. That should go without saying. But I operate with eyes wide open enough to know that justice isn't always blind. I know that black males are locked up at almost six times the rate of whites, that blacks make up 35 percent of the jail and prison population while comprising less than 10 percent of the U.S. population, that black males have about a one in three chance of being locked up in their lives.

In other words, just because a judge or jury sentenced someone for something, I do not blindly accept the verdict as just. I mean, about two percent of persons placed on death row were found innocent upon further appeal. I simply think it is wise for people like me -- white, born into upper middle class circumstances -- to regularly ponder the upbringing and circumstances of people who didn't grow up like us. Now I fear that I'm getting into apologist territory here, and that's not my desire. I just think sometimes all of us are quick to judge, and then be jury, and don't factor in all parts of the equation.

Twitter is wondrous, annoying

April, 19, 2012
Twitter can be a wondrous thing, and also a pain in the tush. When random knuckleheads take shots at you, it can be annoying. I had a fella busting my chops recently, accusing me of being a liberal media shill, because I reported that Jim Lampley is modeling his forthcoming “The Fight Game” show on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the weeknight, hour-long show political talk-news show which runs on the left-leaning MSNBC network.

I didn’t think I was plugging her show, contrary to my “friend’s” opinion; I found it interesting and thought the readers would as well that Lampley would model his show on that program, and would have reported it the same way if he had said he was modeling it after “Hannity,” the Fox program. I disclosed that my wife has worked as a booker for Maddow in the past, allowing readers, like my Twitter “friend” to draw their own conclusion about any potential bias.

So, while I took issue with my hater’s critique, finding it beyond ludicrous that I was seeking to “change the world” by trying to funnel boxing fans to liberal media programs—I mean, I’d guess a maximum of ten people read what I wrote, and actually took the time to tune in to “Maddow” to get a better sense of Lampley’s blueprint—I will say that Twitter critiques can be instructive and helpful. Because the critique forced me to examine what I had written, de-construct it, and analyze it. That is always a good thing, and the primary reason why I believe the Internet age will in the end result in a better brand of journalism, because it has forced journos, or most of them, who do bother to have a social media presence, to exist outside their bubble. In the old days, a newspaper guy might get a couple letters if someone objected to something they wrote, or a phone call to the newsroom, routed to voicemail. Today, readers can immediately challenge what you write, in a comment section, or on Twitter. It forces a dialogue, instead of allowing a writer to simply opine or pontificate. It helps keep you honest, and on your toes.

My Twitter nemesis, who I will not name, because I think it wouldn’t be fair that I have this platform, and he has like 11 followers, also took issue with my handling of the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez. Jr-Andy Lee triangle. He said I was taking a shot at capitalism I thought I did well to again, inform readers where I’m coming from, sharing that I consider my political leanings to be “far left. ” To clarify, I do this not to needlessly digress in a self-indulgent manner, but to give the reader a better sense of why I come to the conclusions I do. Also, ESPN has a policy, rightly so, which calls for reporters not to get into political matters, potentially misusing their platform. Now, if some news occurs which has a political tilt but germane to the sports or fight world, that is fair game, of course.

Nemesis also didn’t care for my presentation of Floyd Mayweather’s 24/7 jab at PETA. He said that I sided with and plugged PETA. Again, I thought my report was reasonable and measured. I let Floyd have his say, by simply transcribing what he said about PETA on the show, and then I reached out to PETA, to get their response. I also disclosed that my wife and kids are vegan, so, once again, a reader could determine the potential presence of bias on my part.

All in all, I think my Twitter nemesis is a knucklehead, all due respect, to be truthful. But knuckleheads can be helpful. Just because they are off the mark, or cling to flawed reasoning like a dog guards his bone, that doesn’t mean they can’t function in the role of ombudsman, in effect.

Nemesis got me thinking more about how the media treats Floyd Mayweather. (Thanks nemesis!) I sometimes wonder if we, and by we I mean American fight writers, don’t apply different standards toward Floyd as we do, say, Manny Pacquiao. Check back later, and see if Mayweather’s right-hand man, advisor Leonard Ellerbe thinks Floyd gets the shaft from fightwriters.