At the beginning of 2015, a settlement was reached between Golden Boy Promotions and its ex-CEO, Richard Schaefer, which saw a mass exodus of talent (all of whom were advised by Al Haymon), who were then later dispersed to Premier Boxing Champions. One of the few fighters who did not desert the company was one Lucas Matthysse, one of the few boxers to ever leave Haymon after signing with him. By late January, it was announced that the 33-year-old Argentine had signed a five-year extension with GBP.
At the press conference over the summer to announce this weekend’s bout versus Viktor Postol for the vacant WBC 140-pound title, he stated, ”They were loyal to me, so I’m loyal to them.”
Simple words from a man who exudes a certain dignity. He added on Tuesday afternoon (through Golden Boy publicist Cecilia Zuniga), “It was a very easy decision for me. I had discussed this with my manager and Argentinean promoter [Mario Arano] and it just felt good to continue the relationship and here we are.”
For “The Machine,” it would’ve felt foreign to finish out his career with any other promotional outfit.
“I started my career fighting for Mario and then fighting for [Golden Boy President] Oscar [De La Hoya]. Fighting for someone else would’ve felt strange at this point in my career,” said Matthysse, who is hoping to capture his first major world title at the StubHub Center this weekend as the main event on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark.” Last year after his slugfest against John Molina Jr. at the same venue, a victory dinner was held at an Argentine eatery in Santa Monica, Calif. It was at that time [April of 2014] when rumors were running rampant of the impending divorce between De La Hoya and Schaefer and lines were being drawn.
The long-term future of Golden Boy seemed uncertain.
But Arano declared to Vice President Eric Gomez and matchmaker Robert Diaz, in no uncertain terms, that particular evening, “We are with Golden Boy.”
And with that, Gomez had no doubts that Matthysse would stay in the fold. “No, not at all. He’s an honest kid. He’s been very, very good. We’ve been very, very good to him. There was no reason [for Matthysse to leave].”
So there are still loyal boxers in this business?!
You can’t blame boxers for seeking greener – and easier – pastures, especially in today’s business. There are very few Marvin Haglers. “Marvelous Marvin” was so intensely loyal to the Petronelli brothers that when Goody and Pat broached the subject of them cutting their managerial and training percentage during the most lucrative portion of his career, Hagler took it as a personal affront and demanded they not only take their usual cut but to never again bring up the subject. Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum, who promoted Hagler to stardom, never had a written contract but worked on a handshake deal for years.
More often than not, you have Andre Ward suing the late Dan Goossen multiple times after the veteran promoter had him on the brink of being the face of HBO’s boxing franchise. Or Miguel Cotto forsaking prior pledges to stay with Top Rank – and, really, President Todd duBoef – for the remainder of his career to take a more lucrative deal with Roc Nation Sports.
Honestly, it’s hard to blame boxers. Their windows to earn real money are short and ultimately this is a business (a harsh one, at that). There are very few happy endings in this racket. It’s built for heartbreak and hard feelings.
“Well, it’s in the relationships,” explained Gomez. “You build relationships throughout the years. People don’t realize that, as a promoter, that you build these relationships with these fighters and some of them appreciate that. They appreciate that and they really, truly believe that it’s like a family atmosphere with us at Golden Boy and they believe it.”
For anyone in this business – fighter, trainer, manager, promoter or network, learning how to deal with a certain amount of betrayal is a prerequisite to survive and to maintain one’s sanity. Gomez, who saw many boxers who he helped develop over the past several years leave Golden Boy, is philosophical about this. “Look, it depends; there are reasons for people leaving. When they leave because they feel they’re going to get better opportunities or whatever, you understand it. They have a family; they have to look out for themselves but what’s bad is when it’s done sneakily and there’s a third party involved and they try to persuade [the fighters], doing things they’re not supposed to. That’s when it feels bad and it’s ugly. It’s not good when that happens.”
Since the time Matthysse was brought over to the States by Golden Boy, with whom he was first used as an opponent for the likes of Zab Judah and Devon Alexander, he has developed into a fan-favorite and a staple on premium cable. Perhaps Matthysse would always be loyal to Golden Boy and not Haymon, who sources say was forced upon him as a condition to get the Danny Garcia fight in 2013.
But another key factor was Arano.
“The manager plays a big role; he’s a part of it,” confirmed Gomez. “Now, there are certain situations where the fighter leaves both the promoter and the manager – that’s not always good. But the manager has a lot to do with it because, in most cases, the managers are the ones who make the initial investment upfront to become the manager and it’s all in the way you carry yourself and if you do good by your fighter.
“In this situation with Lucas and Mario, we’ve done right by them. He’s been treated well, fairly and the kid is loyal and he believes in what we’re doing. He believes in Oscar,; he believes in all of us, Robert, myself, everybody at Golden Boy and he recognized what we’ve done with him and it was just a very, very good situation.”
Arano, when asked about re-signing with Golden Boy, joked, “What’s the question? I never left Golden Boy and I’m never leaving. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
On a serious note, to him and his boxer, they knew the grass was not greener on the other side of the fence.
“Golden Boy has done an excellent job and everything is great. We are like family and if anything ever did happen, it wouldn’t be because we were unhappy,” said Arano, through Ms. Zuniga on Tuesday. “Can you find a promoter that has done a better job than Golden Boy? To me, Golden Boy is the best.”
Here’s the latest edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly.
Doug Fischer, Michael Montero and I preview Matthysse-Postol on this segment of “10 Count.”
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