It was perhaps a first in the often stripped-down corporate world of boxing.
During a press conference to hype Saturday’s title fight between Ruslan Provodnikov and Chris Algieri at Barclays Center, the promoters seemed to out-number the boxers on the dais.
This is not typical of the sport and certainly not of Brooklyn.
The past seven boxing cards at Barclays Center had one thing in common: they were all promoted by a single lead entity: Golden Boy Promotions and represented by a single suit: CEO Richard Schaefer. Yet with the resignation of Schaefer from Golden Boy earlier this month, the boxing landscape has shifted and a new way of doing business at Barclays may have been on display.
With the future of Golden Boy uncertain, Barclays CEO Brett Yormark articulated his desire on Thursday to work with as many promoters as possible in the interest of putting on the best fights possible in Brooklyn. And if at times that means making deals without Golden Boy even though the two have an agreement to promote shows together- so be it, he seemed to say. Though Yormark has stated a desire to work with other promoters in the past to defend the Golden Boy contract, this time it sounded more like a plea to other promoters to consider using Barclays Center.
“For some reason, it got out there we’re just exclusive with Golden Boy, meaning, we wouldn’t entertain anything else and that’s not really the way it went,” Yormark told the Daily News following the final press conference. “We signed an agreement with Golden Boy to be our promoter, our house promoter. That doesn’t exclude working in collaboration- look at today. We’ve got four different promoters on this card.”
But none of them are from Golden Boy. Yormark gestured toward the figures of Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing and Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions and Carl Moretti of Top Rank and Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport as perhaps reflective of a possibly new business model at Barclays. All four promoters are involved in Saturday’s card, which will be broadcast on HBO. It’s just the second time HBO will air it’s telecast at Barclays, since under Schaefer’s leadership, Golden Boy faithfully used Showtime as its television partner most of the time.
“I think as we look to collaborate and hopefully this is a great sign to the industry that the Barclays Center is the premier building in America, [we’re] open to collaborative efforts,” Yormark told the News. “Hopefully those opportunities will come to us, which means also HBO.”
Saturday’s show is a unique partnership, however, helped along by the influence and deep pockets of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire who played a role in making sure Provodnikov, a boxer from Siberia, fought in Brooklyn instead of the Nassau Coliseum, where the card was initially scheduled. (On Thursday, Yormark confirmed a Daily News report that Prokhorov and his top sports advisor Sergei Kushchenko were behind the April change in venues.)
Yormark said he would stay loyal to Golden Boy, since he credits the company for introducing him to the sport. The next Barclays show is a Golden Boy card scheduled for Aug. 9, though no fights have been announced, he said. And Yormark plans to meet with Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya next month in Los Angeles for the first time since Schaefer’s departure. But Yormark also made it clear his top priority is to bring the biggest fights to Brooklyn rather than align himself with anyone and that includes Floyd Mayweather’s next bout, scheduled for Sept. 13- even if Mayweather’s camp has stated it will no longer work with Golden Boy. Yormark tried unsuccessfully to bring Mayweather’s last fight, this past May, to Barclays. Now, he’s making another run of it.
“It’s fair to say I’m talking to everyone right now, including Showtime [regarding bringing Mayweather to Brooklyn],” said Yormark, who stated he also has options on Provodnikov’s next bout to be in Brooklyn. “And I think there’s a lot of motivation to putting this event in Brooklyn and I’ll continue to work all the different channels and hopefully I’ll be luckier this time then I was before.”