Everybody asks me and I tell them that Marcos Maidana is better than the 12-1 odds he is up against this weekend versus Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in Las Vegas. Under the tutelage of trainer Robert Garcia, Maidana has improved his footwork, punch selection and physical condition. It’s a mistake to focus on Maidana’s style pre-Garcia and judge him on those fights. Much of what he and Garcia and also strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza have accomplished has happened recently and the Adrien Broner fight is a good example of how much Maidana has improved. Garcia is perhaps the best trainer in the sport and nothing says that better than the consistency of which his large stable of fighters racks up victory after victory.
Everybody asks me and I tell them that the situation with Al Haymon, Richard Schaefer and Stephen Espinoza of Showtime as it relates to advising, promoting and telecasting fights reminds me much of Blinky Palermo and Frankie Carbo and their association with the IBC and Jim Norris. Palermo and Carbo were mobsters who controlled boxing from “behind the curtain” in the 40s, 50s and 60s. With Norris’ help they also controlled Madison Square Garden and other venues which later led to controlling televised boxing. I am by no means suggesting there is anything crooked or untoward in the business practices of Haymon, Schaefer or Espinoza. It is their near monopolistic control of fighters, promotions, venues and the televising of bouts that is similar in nature. Not much happens in the sport without the agreement of those three linchpins. Palermo was once described as the “benevolent dictator” of boxing and I would say that term could also be applied to Al Haymon.
Everybody asks me and I tell them that Golden Boy Promotions without Richard Schaefer would be a totally different company. If he exits Golden Boy or leaves the sport it will be a large void. Schaefer has a sharp mind and in the business of boxing one must possess the ability to see several steps ahead. Don King and Bob Arum always had that ability and I believe Richard Schaefer also possesses that skill. He has positioned himself well and he is respected among his peers and business partners. It is rare that you hear a cross word spoken of Schaefer – except of course from Arum.
Everybody asks me and I tell them that a business model for boxing that is based on pay-per-view is one from the past. It’s an old idea that has been hanging around since fights were shown on closed-circuit broadcasts beginning in the 1960s. Manny Pacquiao is now struggling on pay-per-view and except for Mayweather there is no other legitimate fighter that really belongs exclusively on that platform. Canelo Alvarez is making an attempt to supplant Mayweather who will likely be retiring relatively soon, but a fighter that cannot speak English facing the likes of Erislandy Lara on PPV will be a tough sell. Pay-per-view bouts now come with price tags in the $60 to $70 range and in most cases they can be watched for free on the Internet the next day. The flood of PPV matches this year is an over saturation of the market. Going forward, I fail to see the mechanics by which the public will remain devoted to this medium. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) recently launched their own television network and if one subscribes to that on a monthly basis the pay-per-view events are included as part of the subscription. That’s an idea in 2014 that makes a lot of sense.