Schaefer talks boxing business
Story by Andreas Hale
Photo by Chris Cozzone
After last week’s Business of Boxing forum that took place in New York City, giving the media a glimpse into the future of boxing in terms of marketing and bringing the sport to a new generation of fight fans, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer sat down with Fightnews.com to discuss his perspective on boxing and where it is headed.
Schaefer left no stone unturned and was confident that the future of the sport is brighter than ever.
The ever looming elephant in the room was initially addressed as Schaefer gave his opinion on the “other” head to head battle happening on September 19 - the PPV battle with UFC 103.
“I don’t think (UFC 103) is going to have an impact (on Mayweather Vs Marquez),” Schaefer said. “The fact is that boxing always has an event on Mexican Independence Day. I don’t know too many Mexican mixed martial arts fighters. We have a Hispanic event with a Hispanic fighter. I’m not really worried about it.”
“I’m not at war with UFC. Just let them do well,” he continued. “Right now you have baseball and college football going on. They both use a ball but does that mean they neutralize each other? No they don’t. I really think it is a different demographic and a different audience so I’m not worried about that.
Although promoters like Bob Arum have taken a less than diplomatic approach to addressing UFC Vs Boxing recently, Schaefer would not take the time disrespect the world of Mixed Martial Arts. Rather, the Golden Boy Promotions CEO cited several things that the world of boxing could take notes from to improve. One of those areas of improvement Schaefer cited would be to not allow a loss to ruin a fighter’s career.
“I’m surprised to see that the Heavyweight champion of UFC (Brock Lesnar) has a record of 4-1. In boxing he would never be the heavyweight champion,” Schaefer would say before looking inward and seeing boxing’s mishap. “But maybe we need to look at this as entertainment. You have to look at guys who are exciting, have the charisma and give it their best. One perfect example is Victor Ortiz. He comes to fight and he is well spoken. Maybe we should focus on the guys who bring entertainment to the sport. I don’t think we do that enough.”
Schaefer also feels that boxing doesn’t embrace its legends and opts to rush them out of the sport.
“I was reading a story by Kevin Iole about the 46-year-old Randy Couture and how good he looked in his loss at UFC. I wonder how many boxing writers would write about 45-year-old Bernard Hopkins if he loses and would write how great he is and how he should continue boxing?”
This conversation would lead in to the possible outcomes of Saturday’s Mayweather Vs Marquez fight and how it could affect the future of Mayweather should he lose.
“It (should) depend on how you lose,” he said. “If you lose one fight that shouldn’t be the end. Mayweather will come to fight and display he is an unbelievable fighter. If he loses, why the heck should it be the end? If the UFC champion is 4-1, what is Mayweather going to be? 39-1?”
With many of the boxing’s skeptics reporting that the sport is in a downward spiral, Saturday’s fight will become the litmus test for the future. Schaefer understands the challenges in front of him and is not afraid to address them head on.
Saturday’s fight presents what is arguably the biggest fight of the year. But there has been something missing with all of the pre-fight hype – talk of title belts. Schaefer says this has been done purposefully and addresses the fact that there are far too many belts for any to have real merit.
“The sanctioning organizations have done this to themselves. They have diluted these belts to the point where people just don’t care. I think they have pushed the envelope too far,” he explained. “Not once did we say world championship (when promoting this fight). The consumer wants to see a great fight. We need to deliver great fights.”
That also brings up the idea of improving undercards so boxing fans get more bang for their buck. It’s no secret that in the past few years the undercards for major boxing events have become weaker and more uninteresting for fight fans to care about.
“Arum said something that I agree with. People buy the main event and not the under cards. Yet, when you do buy the pay per view you still see the under cards and they can be bad. That’s why we really made an effort to put together a top to bottom unbelievable undercard and I think we have one here,” Shaefer explains before insisting that Mayweather Vs Marquez is only the beginning of boxing correcting its mishaps and moving forward with interesting and engaging initiatives to please today’s jaded fight fan.
The most important element was saved for last – bringing boxing back to national television. It is a huge task but the rewards far outweigh the risk and work needed to make it a reality. This is a task that Schaefer is willing to shoulder.
“It’s very important for boxing. We need to give these young fighters exposure. How can you become nationally recognized if you do not have a national platform?” he asks, clearly understanding the need to bring boxing’s future stars to a platform that can be seen across the world for free.
“Everyone is telling me that you cannot get boxing back on network television. I’m telling you now that I am going to get boxing back on network television. Everyone else can try it too. But I am going to get it back on network television. I’m working on it.”