Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer loves to say he doesn't care what Bob Arum says or does, but second to that is only Richard Schaefer's love of paying close attention to everything Bob Arum says and does, then taking the veteran promoter to task.
Let's go back-and-forth here.
Here's what Arum said to USA Today:
"Putting on fights in the United States is great, but it gets repetitious because you're not doing anything innovative. We're doing innovative things, and our production is so far above anybody else in boxing or UFC. You watch the telecast of Pacquiao's fight with Rios, that production was incredible. That was all ours, not HBO."
And here's what Schaefer said in response:
"What is he talking about? Does he think people are going to watch the show because of the great lights? He should be better off on spending money on making the fights better. People wants to spend their money to watch good fights, not better lighting. I haven't met anyone who said, 'oh, you have to watch the pay-per-view because Top Rank's lighting, it's fucking unbelievable.' He should let HBO do the production, they do a perfectly fine job. And then he can spend the money he can save on making better fights. That's what I would do."
This is something I've thought before myself, not in such a strong way, really, but that Arum is too hung up on production. There's not a thing in the world wrong with the production that HBO or Showtime have in-house. Both networks do a fantastic job. And I'm not saying that Arum is wrong about the job Top Rank does, either; he may even be right that they do it better than anyone. Top Rank's production is, in fact, very impressive.
But he's said things at pressers in the past along the lines of people talk about Floyd Mayweather events as though they're boring because there's no event feel to them, no "big-fight" atmosphere with the pageantry and whatnot. Again, it's not that Arum is wrong; it's that perhaps it doesn't mean quite as much as he thinks it does, and that maybe, indeed, resources could be better allocated to having an undercard fight or two that people would like to see.
(Though I think it's worth noting that if Golden Boy had a Zou Shiming, they would probably use him in exactly the same manner, though they may not employ Col. Bob Sheridan to gush about him as if he's the second coming. Or perhaps they would. Who am I to say?)
"It's a good market, but it's certainly not growing. Boxing in the U.S. is largely dependent on two premium networks (HBO and Showtime). And as the (aging) audience for boxing begins to die out and is not replaced by the younger generation, which looks elsewhere for its sports, how long is the support from the premium networks going to last? ... Boxing is not dead. Boxing is so alive, it is so popular all over the world, that if you give them the right presentation, the right production, if you make it like we know how to make it, they go crazy."
"I believe in the United States. I believe in boxing in the United States and obviously I'm not the only one. Look at some of those great ratings that Showtime did this year, three of their highest ratings in their history have been this year. Look at the great ratings HBO is doing, over 1.3 million for the fight last weekend. This is hardly a dying sport in America.
"My focus will always be on America, and I'm proud to have come here as an immigrant to become an American citizen. I believe in Americana, I believe in boxing in America and I will not rest until boxing is once again the greatest sport in the country. When you see these ratings, it's very encouraging when you see premium networks like Showtime and HBO, on a regular basis, having ratings in excess of a million homes. That is not a dying sport."
First of all, it has to be pointed out that Schaefer not once but twice gave the reader the belief that Arum called boxing a dying sport. He did the exact opposite when he said very clearly, "Boxing is not dead. Boxing is so alive..."
The "USA! USA! USA!" spirit of Schaefer's retort is pretty hilarious, but I get it. He's countering Arum's dark, arguably realistic negativity with something sunny and optimistic. Arum is The Smiths, Schaefer is The Archies.
Arum on Mayweather-Pacquiao:
"We've announced we're willing to make anything happen. Now somebody has got to contact us so we can sit down and explore how it can happen. Isn't that the way normal people deal? You can't wave a wand. I've said unequivocally, we're ready to sit down and see if a deal can be reached."
Schaefer on Arum on Mayweather-Pacquiao:
"He's using Mayweather's name to drum up publicity of Pacquiao. When it is convenient for him, he uses Mayweather's name. Mayweather is pretty clear, as clear as it can be. He is not going to be dealing with Arum or Todd [duBoef] or anyone else over there. He doesn't need them. If you want Mayweather-Pacquiao, then okay. Make Pacquiao available and Mayweather Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions will take care of everything."
... "We are not looking to cut Arum out, this is not about not paying Bob. He can have his Top Rank logo on the banner, no problem. He can have a few seats, no problem. It's nothing to do with disrespecting, but if he thinks he's the driving force here - what fucking arrogance does the guy have? ... Arum can call whoever he wants to call, but it's not going to happen with him involved. He's irrelevant in the equation."
OK, first of all, this fight isn't happening. Period. Let's get past that again. There is no interest whatsoever from Floyd Mayweather or Richard Schaefer or Leonard Ellerbe or anyone else in working with Bob Arum. And it's hard to blame them, really. There's been so much said and done over the years that it's simply a broken relationship. It's a bad divorce and nobody wants to revisit anything any time soon.
So what I'm trying to say here is that both sides are, as they have been from the beginning, full of the ol' nonsense. But this is also the greatest representative exchange of their preferred tactics.
First, you have Arum playing the "good guy," or at least trying to. Sure, we'll negotiate. Hey, look, the fight should happen, we want to get it done. Someone just has to give us a call. You know who.
And then Schaefer, taking the bait while he knows he's taking the bait, responds with indignation. Who is this OLD DINOSAUR telling us to call him? Who the F-bomb does this mother F-bomb think he is? What, we gotta kiss the ring now? Is that what this S-head is saying? F that F-ing F!
It's also neat when Schaefer says, "We're not looking to cut Arum out," then immediately says, "It's not going to happen with him involved. He's irrelevant in the equation." So basically they'll allow a logo on a banner but Arum and Todd duBoef and anyone else at Top Rank simply cannot be involved. Richard knows that's not how it's going to ever go down, but that is the way that it is, and even around all the leading statements meant to turn the angry young boxing fan further against that crusty old dean of boxing promoters, Schaefer is, in the end, the one shooting you straight here. It's not going to happen with Arum involved. Thus, it is not going to happen.
These guys should do a reality series.