Richard Schaefer appears ready to take Top Rank to war if at all possible. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
As we mentioned on Saturday, Golden Boy Promotions was thinking about running a show on December 8, despite the fact that Manny Pacquiao is now fighting on that date, likely against Juan Manuel Marquez, and there's even a loaded UFC on FOX show, to boot. Boxing and UFC can co-exist without problems -- they do it all the time. UFC runs FOX shows on these big boxing dates and it doesn't seem like anyone gets hurt. That's all fine.
Golden Boy and Top Rank, of course, cannot co-exist, and are constantly now fighting to thin an already small herd of boxing fans that would or could watch their shows.
Schaefer says this evening that he does not plan to run against Manny Pacquiao on December 8, but if Top Rank runs any other show on that date, they'll go ahead with alleged previous plans.
The way Schaefer is phrasing it, he's trying to make himself a hero for not pushing Manny Pacquiao out of the MGM Grand, as if there's a fight Golden Boy could run on that date that the MGM would rather have than Manny Pacquiao, or as if there's a fight they can run on that date that the PPV industry would choose to carry instead of Manny Pacquiao. They'd have to be doing something big with Floyd Mayweather, and there's no indication of that. It's mostly about Canelo Alvarez, who is a star, but not Manny Pacquiao.
"If in fact Manny Pacquiao is going to fight on December 8th, then I'm not going to go and stand in Manny's way so he can't fight on December 8th - by insisting on keeping the date and so on. This is Manny Pacquiao, he's one of the best fighters and I'm not going to go and do that. ... We were holding December 8th with the pay-per-view industry, no question about it. But, if Manny Pacquiao is going to fight, out of respect to Manny Pacquiao, and out of respect to the MGM, he should have that date. But, if Manny Pacquiao is not going to fight - I fully intend to have a pay-per-view event and a fight that night."
This is also a classic case of the first thing you hear about a story seeming so utterly stupid -- running head-to-head with Manny Pacquiao, whose PPV audiences are about on par with anything HBO shows for free, and far bigger than anything Showtime shows for free -- that this backpedal step seems almost palatable at first, but then if you really think about it, it's more of the same old song and dance.
Also, and maybe this is just the way he puts it by accident, he is only saying that he won't run at the MGM Grand (duh), and won't run on PPV (no shit). He doesn't really say he won't run a show on 12/8 on Showtime from the legendary boxing hall that is the Staples Center or the Honda Center or whatever.
"We don't care what Top Rank is doing" = "We're not going to listen to our fans, because why should we?" And why should they, I guess? No matter what the gates are, no matter how much they chop their audience up through various paths to lessening how many people watch GBP shows, they go about their business as if we don't exist, because they can do that. I said basically this same thing earlier, and BLH friend Carlos Acevedo of The Cruelest Sport noted that boxing is largely a "consumer-proof industry." And that's about right.
On some level, they don't need us. Everything hums along despite nobody buying tickets to shows, and despite diminished TV audiences, which mean that we're in a world celebrating a whopping 1.5 million people watching a fight on HBO and things like that. HBO and Showtime and other partners keep them in business. HBO and Showtime buy these fights. And it's really all fine from that point on. This is why I might note gate numbers, because people seem to care about them and I find it interesting, but no, I don't think gate numbers are even in the top three of things that matter to a card's success anymore. Not at the high levels anyway.
Schaefer also says that he had 11/10 booked at Staples Center for a while, as well as 12/8 at MGM Grand. See, he has 12/8 because he was going to run a SuperCard™ on that date, but he had 11/10 because, well, he envisioned Pacquiao's move, if he can be honest with you here. You believe whatever you want, but this is all getting as goofy as the Star Wars prequels in terms of trying to follow what the hell is going on, what the architects are thinking, and of course there's that part where someone batters and chokes something you love until it has essentially no life left.
But those horrendous movies happened, and we can't change that. We can never go back to a world where they didn't exist. And this ridiculous boxing rivalry exists, and we can't change that, either. And the way boxing destroyed its own audience -- you can go along with the idea that the fanbase is on the rise, but it is only marginal, and still nowhere near where it was even 10 years ago, not exactly the high point of boxing history by any means, and this isn't a political convention, so I don't see the point in espousing this promoterspeak stuff -- we can probably never go back to a time when things like this just wouldn't be happening, when everyone would be so concerned with actually promoting that they'd be forced to put together fights people -- actual, real people -- wanted to see, and not content to live with the fact that a niche/cult audience, which is what boxing has now, is essentially a captive audience, and will largely watch whatever you give them, and many will even defend these things right down into the ground, because it's all they have, and they're attached to an idea or a thought that doesn't really exist anymore.
I mean, Schaefer can't be so delusional as to think there's a world with "Golden Boy boxing fans" and "Top Rank boxing fans," can he? That's one of the only other explanations I can think of for purposely hacking at your potential audience with a rusty pick-axe. There are only boxing fans. We're not picking sides here -- all promoters do crappy stuff to us, and they sometimes give us what we want and we shower them with love for managing to hit .190 because a couple times they had walk-off home runs.
This is going to keep happening. Right now, there is no official Top Rank show on November 10, but they had that date and they have said they'll run a show. So Golden Boy technically has that date, all things considered, even though their 10/27 date for Mares vs Moreno was fine. There is no Golden Boy show on December 8, but they claim that date is theirs, and Schaeer's concession speech here isn't exactly convincing. But the intent is clear, at least to me, and it's that Richard Schaefer is flat-out going to war with Top Rank if he can. He will "lose" some battles (originally moving Mares-Moreno from 10/13 was a smart move, and the only move to make), but he plans to win a war.
You can feel free to defend this practice for whatever reason you wish, and I'm not going to try and stop you. And it will soon be happening from the other side, too, I'm sure -- Top Rank has thus far been smart about staying quiet on the topic, and avoiding it, because yes, Golden Boy did have the tighter claim to 9/15 than Top Rank did, which probably drove Schaefer up a wall privately, and probably has led to him going after Top Rank, the company he "doesn't care about." But while Schaefer makes moves of clear aggression with that "Who, me???" look on his face, Top Rank does nothing in retaliation for the time being, which gives the impression that they're being picked on, which is of course a laugh riot. Top Rank is historically too big a bully to garner any real sympathy.
And for the record, no, I do not think Richard Schaefer ("and Oscar De La Hoya," if you must have that added in) is some evil, horrible figure ruining the sport. I merely think he is not different than his rivals, despite his constant claims otherwise, and neither is his promotional company, despite his and their constant claims otherwise. They're all swimming in the same sludge fen.