After watching an exodus of fighters that included Floyd Mayweather Jr., Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Amir Khan to rival network Showtime, HBO announced this week it will stop broadcasting fights involving boxers promoted by Los Angeles’ Golden Boy Promotions.
“In order to achieve our goal of the best fighters in the most compelling matchups, we’ve decided to focus our efforts and resources on those strategic relationships where we better share common goals and business philosophies,” HBO Sports President Ken Hershman said in a statement.
The decision nixes HBO’s involvement in a discussed June 22 world welterweight title fight between lightweight champion Adrien Broner and welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi, who sidelines as a reporter on Showtime boxing broadcasts.
Showtime, headed by former Golden Boy Promotions attorney Stephen Espinoza, has boosted its boxing presence in the last year, luring HBO fighters amid conflicts between Golden Boy Chief Executive Richard Schaefer and HBO.
Schaefer said Wednesday he has felt HBO regarded him as an “unwanted stepchild,” citing the premium network’s offer in early 2012 for a Victor Ortiz fight that landed on Showtime for an offer that was greater by $300,000, according to a person close to the situation who was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.
Schaefer said he thought HBO officials “overcompensated” in response to news reports that boxing manager Al Haymon -- who represents Mayweather, Danny Garcia and others -- had too much of a say in HBO matchmaking.
“Those left at HBO danced to that tune, or they risked getting fired,” Schaefer said, also blaming rival promoter Bob Arum for influencing the environment.
Yet boxing insiders have also pointed to Schaefer’s longtime friendship with Espinoza as an inside job, the capper being Mayweather’s decision to jump ship to Showtime, which is owned by CBS.
Whether it be a date that conflicted with an Arum fight, or an opponent deemed unsatisfactory, Golden Boy could lean on a qualifier to invoke its possible alternative reliance on Showtime for a fight.
Schaefer downplayed the notion that he was manipulating talks, noting, “Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, ‘Canelo,’ these fighters have lawyers, managers, advisors telling them to go for the best deal. That’s not about me and Stephen. It’s time to ask HBO why they’re losing these fighters.”
Schaefer said Hershman turned his back to him, the pair not speaking since December, even when Schaefer was in New York for a fight earlier this month.
He said the HBO stance worsens the current climate that keeps fighters represented by Golden Boy and Arum’s Top Rank from fighting each other because of the promoters’ friction and distrust.
Arum praised HBO for its stance, complaining, “Showtime is doing business with one promoter and shutting out everyone else. The move HBO has made is strategic. Since most kids want to fight on HBO, it severely wounds recruiting by Golden Boy and Haymon.”
Schaefer expressed confidence Golden Boy fighters can still earn maximum television money without the competition for services. He didn’t dismiss the possibility of working with HBO again either.
“This is boxing,” Schaefer said. “You might be enemies today and best friends tomorrow.”