The 25 most powerful people in boxing08/01/2012
by Kevin Iole
There are few sports more star-driven than boxing. The NFL doesn't rely on a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning the same way boxing desperately needs guys like Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr.
In the major team sports, guys like Brady and Manning have influence, but they're just one piece in the cog. When Brady missed almost the entire 2008 season, the NFL didn't see a drop in ticket sales, merchandise sales, television ratings or overall interest.
Try the same thing in boxing. Guarantee in 2013 that neither Pacquiao nor Mayweather fights and the sport will take a precipitous drop. Big stars are extraordinarily important for boxing. Good matches between little known fighters don't sell at the box office and don't attract television ratings.
That gives guys like Pacquiao and Mayweather extraordinary power and influence within the industry. It also makes big-time power brokers of those who work with them.
With that in mind, here are the Top 25 most powerful men (and women) in boxing:
1. Al Haymon – The most powerful guy in boxing is also its most mysterious. You'll rarely, if ever, see him in front of a television camera and you'll never catch him speaking to a reporter. He's not a promoter. He's not a manager. But when Haymon says jump, plenty of people in boxing listen.
He's referred to as an adviser, which is a smart way to avoid having to be licensed by an athletic commission and to skirt the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. It's illegal in the U.S. to serve as a promoter and a manager, though Haymon does both.
But what he does is, he'll hire a promoter to, essentially, buy his or her license for an event. So, while, say, Gary Shaw Productions may be the promoter of record for an event, he's doing so at the direction of Haymon. It's Shaw who has to follow the regulations required of a promoter by the state athletic commissions, not Haymon, but it's Haymon making the calls.
He also directs the careers of many fighters, serving as a de facto manager. But while managers are required to be licensed by the states, advisers are not.
He's involved with a slew of the sport's biggest stars, including the biggest, Floyd Mayweather Jr. When Haymon wants one of his fighters on television, he gets it. His fighters compete when he says, where he says, on the network he wants and generally for what he asks purse-wise.
There's no one more powerful than that.
2. Todd duBoef – duBoef is the president of Top Rank. He is the promoter of Manny Pacquiao, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and Nonito Donaire. He is very innovative and has made many changes, including revamping the live event atmosphere at Top Rank fights.
He's embraced the use of technology and Top Rank is clearly the leader in the digital space among boxing promoters.
3. Richard Schaefer – The CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, Schaefer for years had to listen as competitors and media moaned about his unfair advantage in landing fights on HBO. Then, when the deal with HBO ended, the former legal counsel for Golden Boy, Stephen Espinoza, was hired to run Showtime Sports. Suddenly, Golden Boy's fights are all over Showtime and Schaefer's competitors are moaning again.
That's the definition of power and influence.
Schaefer works well with Haymon and, as a result of that relationship, he's promoted all of Mayweather's fights since 2007. He also owns Ring Magazine and its website uses it as a propaganda tool when need be. When he complained that media was too influenced by Top Rank's Bob Arum, he used the site he owns and a reporter he pays as the vehicle to do it. That provides him with even more influence.
4. Curtis Jackson – Jackson is a musician who is best known by his stage name, 50 Cent. He recently formed a promotional company, TMT Promotions, which is short for "The Money Team." That is the moniker that Mayweather has given his crew. It appears that Jackson will be Mayweather's promoter going forward.
TMT Promotions has reportedly signed fighters such as Yuriorkis Gamboa, Andre Dirrell, Zab Judah and Andre Berto. None of them are big draws, but it's an indicator that Jackson is serious about promoting.
As long as he's fast friends with Mayweather and Mayweather continues to fight, he'll continue to be among the leading boxing powerbrokers.
5. Bob Arum – The Top Rank founder is a Hall of Fame member who is still very active at 80. And while much of the business is run by duBoef, Arum's imprint is still all over everything Top Rank does.
He has a great knack for understanding how to build a fighter and he gives his very strong team plenty of room to do their jobs. As a result, he consistently comes up with star after star and remains at the top even as others fall into irrelevance.
Arum has stayed current, though he keeps referring to Jackson as "50 Cents." That faux pas aside, Arum is a relentless worker who has relationships with some of the most powerful people in the television, venue and casino businesses.
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