Boxing’s Fight of the Year for 2014 might not happen in the ring, but outside of it. If it goes from bad to worse, it might go to court. That, in essence is what the rift between Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer is shaping into. Worse, the feud between GBP’s top two honchos could  lead to a nasty business divorce in the next few weeks.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire

What started as a rumor became a fact when Oscar De La Hoya tweeted: “Regarding all these rumors about my company and Richard Schafer, I will be setting the record straight soon.” If the squabble was not true, then De La Hoya would’ve denied it. But setting the record straight is admitting that there are things to be clarified.

This rumor started last March 8, during the Canelo Alvarez vs Alfredo Angulo bout when people noticed that De La Hoya and Schaefer did not take their customary seats together. Instead, Leonard Ellerbe- the CEO of Mayweather Productions, was seated between the two GBP bosses. Sources even said that the two did not acknowledge and look at each other. The tension was visibly there but neither man  would comment.

Then there was an incident last month, when De La Hoya walked past Richard Schaefer at a Golden Boy Promotions show at Stub Hub Center at Carson, California. They didn’t speak to each other.

And then Oscar’s tweet came. It was then that Schaefer also broke his silence. He said that he does not have De La Hoya’s number anymore and that it has been a month since his last meaningful conversation with the former boxer. Schaeffer went on to add that “it’s no longer peaches and cream” and that while Oscar says otherwise, the issues will never be resolved by denying them.

What Are the Issues?

Schaefer was a Swiss banker when De La Hoya knocked on his door to help him manage his finances. When Oscar founded Golden Boy Promotions in 2002, he named Schaefer CEO and gave him the autonomy to run the show. Schaefer started from scratch, and transformed Golden Boy into the most successful boxing promotional company in the United States today with over 80 fighters that include 20 current or former world champions. GBP also owns a 25% share in the soccer team Houston Dynamo. It’s also branched out to real estate, through Golden Boy Real Estate partners, which focuses on redevelopment opportunities in the Hispanic communities.

De La Hoya has been an absentee owner in the recent years. His personal troubles that ranged from cross-dressing, drug and alcohol problems have taken him to rehab. In the past few years, De La Hoya has become more of a liability than the brand that bears his monicker. It has been Schaefer who’s nurtured GBP from its birth. And now comes Oscar.

Schaefer admits that the issues are related to their respective visions for Golden Boy. De La Hoya, sober after rehab, wants to get a more active role in running the show. Schaefer, the man who runs the day to day operations, does not agree with De La Hoya’s plans.

Without admitting it, the alpha and omega of the problem is De La Hoya’s plan to kiss and make up with rival promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank. Schaefer admitted that he was surprised to learn that De La Hoya had met with Arum. De La Hoya, on the other hand, admitted that he “went to Arum’s house to have peace with him.”

This did not go well with Schaefer, who as the head of GBP has a long history of bad blood with Arum and Top Rank. Schaefer has always stood firm in his decision never to work with Arum because of professional differences and personal animosity. Schaefer even likened Arum to a leopard who cannot change his spots. He also added that Arum’s career is built and run on making feuds with the competition.

And now that Oscar wants a bigger role at Golden Boy, the rumor is that he wants to do business with Arum. The feud between Golden Boy and Top Rank is the main reason why a lot of boxing’s meaningful fights have not happened, including the Mayweather vs Pacquiao bout. Burying the hatchet could change that and pave the way for the fights that fans want to watch.

But this could come at the expense of a break up at Golden Boy.

What the Future Holds

It is not certain what Oscar will say to set the record straight in the next few weeks. Schaefer has publicly said that he is loyal and that he has a job to do at Golden Boy. However, he said that he does not know what the future holds because of the differences in vision between the owner( De La Hoya)  and CEO(himself).

Floyd Mayweather Jr. entered the picture this week, and professed his love for Richard Schaefer the businessman. He told media that Schaefer has a home at Mayweather Promotions should he have problems at GBP. There is also another rumor that Schaefer and boxing power broker Al Haymon are to form a new promotional outfit and take with them fighters from the GBP stable. But these are rumors, and until the time Oscar De La Hoya officially talks the future of Golden Boy Promotions hangs in the balance.

De La Hoya owns Golden Boy, but it remains unclear if he can run it like Schaefer did. While De La Hoya provided the face, it was Schaefer’s handy work that made it an empire. Theirs was like a marriage. Now it looks like its headed for a divorce. And like any divorce, it’s the kids that suffer. In this case, the kids are the fighters in their stable.

As the weeks go by, this rift is fast shaping up as the top choice for Fight of the Year in boxing. But sadly, there won’t be winners in this bout.

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