The return of Richard Schaefer
Today from the US Bank Tower in Los Angeles, a press conference is being held to formally announce the Showtime doubleheader on Dec. 10 that will boast a main event of Jesus Cuellar vs. Abner Mares for the WBA “regular” featherweight title and a co-feature that sees Jermall Charlo defending his IBF junior middleweight belt against Julian Williams.
This event is co-promoted by TGB Promotions and the newly formed Ringstar Sports, which is led by Richard Schaefer, the former CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.
After going through purgatory, Schaefer is back. The former Swiss banker admits he learned, during his time away from the business, that not only did he miss this racket, he is now a full-fledged “boxing guy.”
He said with a chuckle, “I think boxing does that to you and I think anyone that’s in boxing, whether it’s a TV guy, a media guy, a manager or promoter or an adviser – whatever you are – this is a very special sport and it really makes people feel emotions and people want to be affiliated with the sport. It’s a great sport and I’ve been in many great sporting events from World Cup soccer finals to NBA Finals, Game Sevens in basketball, World Series and stuff like that but there’s nothing really like sitting ringside at a championship fight or, for that matter, any fight where you have two guys going toe-to-toe and the whole atmosphere.
“It sucks you in, boxing. I left Golden Boy; I had a non-compete (agreement), which expired quite awhile ago and I could’ve come back a year ago but I wanted to see what I really wanted to do and what became apparent is that I am passionate about boxing and I love what I do and fighters and other people in the sport, media members, as well, fight fans, when I went to go to some of those fights, (they say) ‘Oh, we need you back,’ and so on. So I said, ‘Y’ know what? I’ve got to come back and decided to form Ringstar and throw in my hat back into the boxing promotions business.”
His mission statement with his new company is very simple.
“I want to put together what I’ve done before – great events,” he said, with excitement in his voice. “Great events, great match-ups, I want to involve the sponsors, get the fights back into the movie theaters, have the sponsors do ‘360’ campaigns of the fighters who are going to be with Ringstar, advertising campaigns. So I have a lot of campaigns that I want to convert.”
There was a time when Schaefer was just a banker brought in to stabilize the business interests of Oscar De La Hoya. “From a background point of view, I’m not a boxing guy. I’m a banker and I know the financial world but I think those who know me know that I’m a deal maker and I have some great ideas, people I’d like to work with or deals I’d like to put together to really expose the sport much more to the mainstream, as well.”
Speaking of De La Hoya, the divorce from Golden Boy Promotions was a messy one. Many believe while he was the CEO of the company, Schaefer simply did not live up to his fiduciary duty and he attempted to prey on De La Hoya as the company’s namesake was at his lowest ebb, battling substance addiction. The question is, did Schaefer serve De La Hoya and GBP or Al Haymon during this stretch of time? His run with GBP came to an end in the summer of 2014 and a settlement was reached at the beginning of 2015 between the two parties, in which Golden Boy was awarded an undisclosed sum and Schaefer was barred from promoting for a period of time.
When asked if he had any regrets over how he ran Golden Boy Promotions at the end of his tenure, he answered, “That is in the past and I read stories and interviews and so on and there’s a lot of false information out there that I did this and that and so forth and so on. I am very proud of what I have accomplished at Golden Boy and I’m very happy how I positioned Golden Boy and so I have nothing to be ashamed of because, again, there’s a lot of wrong information out there and many of the people there, I hired.
“Whether it was Robert Diaz, who used to be with Marco Antonio Barrera, I was the one who suggested him to Eric Gomez to be a matchmaker or even Eric. Eric used to be at the gym and then I hired him to be within Golden Boy and helped him along as a matchmaker,” Schaefer continued. “Robert Gasparri was my chief of staff at the bank I used to work with at UBS (Switzerland’s largest bank). Monica Sears was a summer intern at USC and I was impressed with her and hired her. I could go on and on. Marylyn Aceves used to be my assistant and then Oscar’s assistant. So I really have good memories of my time at Golden Boy and so I really am looking forward now and sometimes I feel sad at the way it ended because I look at Oscar as my little brother.”
Golden Boy staffers – who remained at the company – describe a very tense working atmosphere during the last couple of years of Schaefer’s stewardship of Golden Boy, as it was clear that it became a company with conflicting directions, internally.
Schaefer says of his relationship with De La Hoya, “We had our differences and so on but we had a lot of good times, a lot of good moments, as well. I’m sure that one day that the day will come where me and Oscar are going to get together and talk about whatever it is. So he has different people there now and listens to different people and I hope that things for him and his Golden Boy group of companies is as good – I’m talking financially – as when I was there running it. So it’s good.”
As for his current company, he makes it clear it will be anything but a “sham” promoter for Premier Boxing Champions in the future.
“Totally independent and there’s no contractual, in any way, shape or form, other relationships between me and PBC. I hope that I’ll be able to promote some of the PBC events and that will be one part of my business,” he stated clearly, adding, “I’ll be signing my own fighters. I’ll be doing totally unaffiliated events away from the PBC that have nothing to do with the PBC or fighters. It’s just back to business for me and I will do my own TV deals, as well, my own venue deals and my own everything. So it’s totally independent.”
The expectation is to do between 22-to-25 events in 2017 and, by the second or third year of Ringstar Sports, “maybe 40-to-50 events a year,” said Schaefer, who is actively pursuing fighters.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Schaefer and his new promotional firm become a major player – and quickly. With that comes power and influence but also a responsibility to the sport. During his helm at Golden Boy, he was a key facilitator in the “Cold War” that existed between them and Top Rank Promotions, which, in many ways, crippled many potential match-ups and created a divisive atmosphere in the sport.
So, this time around, can Schaefer be an agent of change and reach across the aisle for the good of the business and its fans?
“I have to tell you, the divide among the promoters is really not that bad anymore, Schaefer says. “I think I’d be happy to work with any promoter. So I really think whatever fractures exist there, those can easily be fixed. I would go as far – if it’s the right fight – I would have to work with my former friends at Golden Boy or with (Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob) Arum or whoever. I think we owe that to the sport and if we truly want to do the slogan of everybody these days – best fight the best – if you really mean that and you really want to do that, then it’s up to us as promoters to really do that.
“Otherwise, we should stop talking about it. As long as one of the other promoters says, ‘Well, I’m never going to work with this guy or that guy,’ then they really don’t mean ‘best fighting the best’ and I think the same goes for the networks.”
In Schaefer’s opinion, using exclusive network contracts as leverage to opt out of fights is a huge cop-out.
“For example, with (Adonis) Stevenson-(Sergey) Kovalev,” said Schaefer, citing the example of the light heavyweight championship bout that never took place, “if the fight doesn’t happen because a particular network does not want to allow their fighter to potentially fight on a different network, then, y’ know, we shouldn’t really say ‘The best fight the best.’ That shouldn’t happen and that is something that I think the networks need to really take a hard look at themselves and, when I say ‘the networks,’ I particularly mean HBO. Hey, if a fight goes to purse bid and another network is paying more money – then let the fight happen.
“If you have a multi-fight (agreement), that’s only for that purse bid fight anyway and the fighter is going to come back to your network. So I think networks stopping certain fights is just not good for the sport.”
FALL CLASSIC FLURRIES
Curtis Stevens-James De La Rosa has been added to the Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward pay-per-view telecast on Nov. 19 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas…Junior middleweight contender Jarrett Hurd will now face Jo Jo Dan on the Spike broadcast from Temple University in Philadelphia on Nov. 12…Lightweight Mason Menard’s fight in Lafayette, Louisiana was canceled…OK, so it won’t be too cold in Chicago and South Bend this weekend, right? (Editor’s note: It’ll be an average of 63, Steve. Maybe not sandals and shorts weather but it could be worse!)…The segment on HBO Sports on the founder of Bikram yoga was outstanding and, well…down right creepy…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.