LAS VEGAS – When Richard Schaefer first began working with Oscar De La Hoya it was as a banker who came aboard to help the boxer stabilize his finances. They became friends.
When De La Hoya formed Golden Boy Promotions he brought Schaefer aboard as the CEO to help him build it into a powerhouse boxing promotions company that would rival the two leaders in the sport at the time – Top Rank Promotions and Don King Promotions.
As Golden Boy Promotions has grown larger, Schaefer and De La Hoya have grown farther apart. Their friendship is tattered and their business relationship is shattered. Now it looks like they’re heading for a messy divorce.
All of this is unraveling on the eve of one of the biggest boxing events of the year. Floyd Mayweather Jr. will defend his RING magazine and WBC welterweight championship against Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Showtime Pay Per View on Saturday night. If there is anything that can take attention away from Mayweather in a big fight is an even bigger fight between Schaefer and De La Hoya on the direction of one of the largest boxing promotion companies in the U.S.
Schaefer said negotiations are underway to determine whether he will remain as the CEO of Golden Boy or whether he will part ways with the company that he has nurtured from the very beginning.
“I really can’t tell you and I don’t want to tell you where we stand in those negotiations,” Schaefer said. “One thing I do not believe in is to create the mess. That’s not my style.”
It has gotten ugly. De La Hoya walked past Schaefer at the Golden Boy Promotions show at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., last week and didn’t speak to him.
Schaefer said he and De La Hoya have a different vision on the direction the company should be heading. De La Hoya has also said he would like the company to do business with Bob Arum at Top Rank, though Schaefer has vowed to never again do business with Arum.
“His vision is something I’ve tried many times, which is to make peace with Bob Arum,” Schaefer said. “But I came to realize that Bob is the way he is. As they say a leopard never changes his spots. I tried it so many times and I gave up. His entire career that’s what Bob Arum thrives on is to have these feuds. It used to be with Don King for a long time.
“I just don’t appreciate being treated that way, being called names, being disrespected and basically at the turn of a light switch you think the next day everything is fine. It just doesn’t work for me.”
Schaefer said he doesn’t understand why De La Hoya, who has been in rehab for drug addiction, wants to embrace Arum after his former promoter has berated him and Schaefer and tried to freeze them out of the boxing business.
“Maybe it’s part of the rehab program, the point in the rehab where you have to forgive everybody,” Schaefer said. “I can appreciate that. I can understand that. I don’t have a problem with that if they want to make peace and make up, but to start doing business with him again that’s just not who I am.”
Mayweather, who was meeting with a group of reporters at the MGM Grand after his arrival at the hotel on Tuesday afternoon, endorsed Schaefer. He said he’d hire Schaefer at Mayweather Promotions if De La Hoya wants to fire Schaefer as the CEO of Golden Boy.
“Richard knows he always has a home over here if he has any problems over there,” Mayweather said. “That’s a company that Richard helped build. Richard and Leonard (Ellerbe) working hand-in-hand we’re working hand-in-hand already.
We would love to work with Richard. He’s a great guy.’’
Schaefer said he hasn’t had any talks with Mayweather about joining forces with him at Mayweather Promotions.
“I don’t think that would be appropriate because I’m doing a job at Golden Boy and I’m going to continue to do that,” Schaefer said. “But once I do either stay or not stay, then I’m going to look at whatever opportunities that are out there. Obviously Floyd, whether I’m there or not there, has a bright future.”
There has also been speculation that Schaefer could join forces with Al Haymon, who is boxing’s biggest powerbroker and represents Mayweather and several boxers who fight on Golden Boy cards.
“Al and me are friends. We work very well together. We have done good business together,” Schaefer said. “He’s certainly a businessman that I highly respect and regard with his accomplishments, not just in boxing, but outside of boxing. But again… I’m not going to discuss now what my thoughts (are) as it relates to my current situation with Golden Boy or my potential future. When I do discuss that I want to make sure I have everything in order, because otherwise you create the mess and you create these rumors.”
While Schaefer wouldn’t divulge the substance of his negotiations with De La Hoya about extricating himself from Golden Boy, he made it known that he has plenty of options if he can’t mend fences with De La Hoya and continue in his role as CEO of the company.
“I started Golden Boy from nothing and made it the No. 1 boxing promoter,” Schaefer said. “I came here in 1988 and joined Swiss Bancorp and later UBS, there was no private bank. When I left it was the largest private bank in the world. I just didn’t try to find wealthy people. I went to get the billionaires as my clients. If you reach for the stars you get them. I believe in hard work and dedication just like Floyd does. I built Golden Boy from nothing. So we’ll see.”
Schaefer said he expects a resolution in the next couple of weeks.