Golden Boy Promotions plays two
On Saturday night, there are two major shows taking place in the state of New York. In perhaps the most anticipated bout of the month, WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares faces the challenge of the highly regarded Vasiliy Lomachenko at the Madison Square Garden, on ESPN. A couple of hours later on HBO, from the Turning Stone Resort and Casino, in Verona, a card featuring WBO junior middleweight titlist Sadam Ali against Mexican upstart Jaime Munguia takes place.
Golden Boy Promotions is involved in both cards, being the co-promoter of Linares and staging the card in Verona.
Like Ernie Banks, they are playing two.
Golden Boy President Eric Gomez can do a lot of things but cloning himself is not one of them. So at which card will he be in attendance?
Last week he told UCNLive.com, “I’ll be in Verona with Sadam Ali and (Golden Boy founder) Oscar (De La Hoya) is going to be with Linares, with (GBP matchmaker) Robert Diaz. Robert Diaz has been really hands-on with Linares; he’s the one that’s matched up his fights the last couple of years, so Oscar and Robert will be there. And I’ve handled Sadam Ali since he’s been with us, so we have a great relationship with Sadam and his father.”
With Munguia replacing Liam Smith, Golden Boy and Ali may have ended up with a better/tougher fight on their hands. “I think so. I definitely think it’s more of a dangerous fight because, these undefeated kids, sometimes there’s no telling who they’re going to end up being. You don’t know who they’re going to be,’ ‘said Gomez, of the big, raw-boned Mexican banger, who has a record of 28-0 (24) but is relatively untested.
“He could be the next Julio Cesar Chavez,” continued Gomez. “We just don’t know but he’s undefeated and nobody knows him. Sure, it’s a dangerous fight but it shows the commitment on Sadam’s part, willing to fight and prove that he’s the champion, prove that he’s the best, prove that he can fight anybody at that weight class and I give a lot of props to Sadam for that.”
The co-feature has WBC 122-pound champion Rey Vargas facing the hard-charging Azat “Crazy A” Hovhannisyan in what could be a real pitched battle.
“That’s a great fight; I’m excited for that one. I’m really, really excited for that fight. It’s going to be a tough fight for both guys. Vargas is a very good champion. He’s got the length advantage, the height advantage but Azat doesn’t stop throwing punches, so (Vargas) can be in a bad fight. So that’s going to be an all-action fight. I’m going to enjoy that fight,” stated Gomez.
Originally this HBO date was supposed to feature the replay of the rematch between Gennady Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez – and we all know why that didn’t take place last weekend. There was initially a scheduling snafu that nearly prevented Golden Boy from pulling the trigger on Linares facing Lomachenko, as they didn’t want to be, in essence, competing against themselves on separate networks.
Fortunately everyone involved made compromises and when Gomez is asked how it eventually got done, he says, “ESPN. ESPN was able to move their programming time and that’s ultimately how we got it done. It wasn’t interfering with our show. We had a show scheduled, which we’re doing and no promoter – and I don’t know the history of promoting fights – has ever gone against themselves. I don’t know but I’d have to look it up but you don’t do that.”
It was a delicate situation, given HBO is closely aligned with Golden Boy and Linares’ last two bouts were on its airwaves. It would’ve added insult to injury to have him in a major fight on another network, while they were airing their own bouts.
Gomez said, “It’s not fair to the network that’s working with us, in this case, HBO. They’re our partner; they’re paying us top dollar to put on a show and to have a competing network put on a fight right at the same time – you don’t do that. I would be shooting myself in the foot. So that was our major problem but you know what? Cooler heads prevailed and we got it done.”
To Golden Boy’s credit, looking at the upcoming schedule, in addition to having one of its fighters on a Top Rank card on ESPN, GBP has Joseph Diaz Jr. challenging WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. on May 19, on Showtime, and, later this summer, Lucas Matthysse will be defending his WBA “regular” welterweight belt versus Manny Pacquaio on a pay-per-view card distributed by ESPN.
Currently there is no other major company reaching across the aisle and working with others to the degree of Golden Boy.
When asked if competing entities are doing this consistently enough, Gomez answered bluntly, “Not at all. We’re pretty much the only ones that are doing it and I hope it starts a trend. But from day one, as Oscar took over the company, Oscar said, ‘Lets go out and make the best fights,’ and that’s what we tried to do. We’ve tried to stay true to that and we’re just like you guys – we’re fans. We look at the ratings; we see who’s up there. We see what guys we have and who we can mix and match and we have no problem doing that.”
Gomez points out that when GBP returned to HBO, in 2014, they had no problems making the fight between Bernard Hopkins and Sergey Kovalev, who is represented by Main Events. In recent years, too many fights were non-starters because of promotional rivalries and network alliances.
“It’s a new era now and I hope that it starts a trend that people start doing that because everybody wins,” Gomez continued. “Everybody wins. The fighters win. The boxing industry wins. Everybody wins. The fans win. You guys, the media. I mean, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
It’s a clear message that, for boxers under the Golden Boy banner, they will not be restricted in available opportunities.
“Actions speak louder than words and to handicap our fighters and just put them in in-house fights, it’s not fair to them. If there’s a champion out there that they want to fight and we feel that it’s a good fight, we’re going to go after it,” promised Gomez. “We’re going to try to make it. We’re not always going to succeed because other promoters, they have their agendas and their own plans.
“But we’re going to fight for our fighters and try to get it done.”
The most recent offering on HBO featuring Gennady Golovkin vs. Vanes Martirosyan drew its highest rating since 2016 (at just under 1.25 million viewers, with a peak of 1.3 million), which, perhaps not-so-coincidentally, also featured a Golovkin bout (against Dominic Wade).
It’s interesting that the network didn’t want to green-light this event, even with the rather extreme circumstances involved. And there almost seems to be an anti-“GGG” agenda with its broadcast crew that is becoming very noticeable among the masses.
Maybe it’s time for Golovkin and Tom Loeffler to explore their options.
Regardless Loeffler had this to say in a prepared release sent out by Team Golovkin:
“Gennady Golovkin may be the champion of the middleweight division but he delivers knockout ratings with a heavyweight punch. Gennady continues to rack up the records. Not only did he tie Bernard Hopkins’ consecutive title defense record, it took Gennady two less years to accomplish that feat. Gennady also added two more StubHub Center milestones to his long list of accomplishments. In addition to owning the boxing attendance record at StubHub Center, which he set in 2014 against Marco Rubio, he also shattered the venue’s record for the highest-grossing boxing event and merchandise sales on Saturday night.
“That makes Gennady a StubHub Center Triple Crown winner! Besides StubHub Center, the ‘Big Drama Show’ has sold out many of the most iconic arenas, including The Forum, Madison Square Garden and the O2 Arena. Make no mistake; this is just the beginning. Gennady is ready to return to the ring as soon as it can be scheduled.”
Here’s this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with “Cinco de Mario” Lopez and me. You’ll hear from Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, Eric Gomez and trainer Robert Alcazar.
There will be two editions of “3KR,” as, later this week, you’ll hear from undefeated junior lightweight Ryan Garcia, who made a special in-studio appearance.
Yeah, it looks like Regis Prograis will enter the World Boxing Super Series, so WBC 140-pound titlist Jose Ramirez will not have to face him next as his mandatory challenger…Speaking of the WBSS, regarding the highly-anticipated cruiserweight finals bout between WBC belthiolder Oleksandr Usyk and IBF/WBA titlist Murat Gassiev, a source tells me the Russian Federation will announce, on May 20, if they have landed the fight or not. Either way, I figure we shouldn’t expect this bout to take place till mid-summer…In addition to the junior welterweight division, bantamweight will be the other division the WBSS will focus on moving forward…Light heavyweight Joe Smith Jr. is scheduled to return on June 30, at the Mohegan Sun…”Barry” has been very good on HBO. Very dark and quirky comedy…Wendy Rhoades, damn…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.