Golden Boy Promotions is in trouble.
The split between the promotional company and Seniesa Estrada shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The divorce comes after the two-division world champion kept hounding her handlers for a renegotiated contract over the last few months. But in reality, Golden Boy would never be able to give her what she wants, nor are they in a position to provide for any of their top fighters.
“Seniesa is a great fighter. She'd been with Golden Boy for a long time. We gave her a platform. We built her up. Golden Boy provided her with the blueprint like we always do,” said GBP Chief Operating Officer Robert Gasparri via BoxingScene.com.
“What happens is, at the end of the day, I don't know if it's numbers or whatever, we can do so much. As a promoter, a lot of times they look at us as the, you know, ‘why can't we do more whatever.' There's a great deal of money involved to put these shows on. I can't comment on the details of it. I know some stuff is still fluid. We wish Seniesa the best. She's a wonderful person. I'm sure she will do very well wherever she goes.”
Cutting through all the mumbo-jumbo, Golden Boy is no longer a top promoter. One of the hallmark traits of being a good promoter is the ability to secure a T.V. deal or several T.V. deals. It's no secret that Golden Boy struggled mightily to renew their contract extension with DAZN.
The rupture officially began on Sept. 8, 2020, when longtime Golden Boy fighter and boxing's biggest star, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, sued his then-promoter and streaming broadcast partner, DAZN, for breach of contract and fraud, seeking damages of at least $280 million. Both sides reached a settlement two months later, but the damage appears irreversible. Golden Boy has been on a downward trajectory since. In 2019, the company hosted 32 events; in 2021, it hosted 10. However, Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Sport put on 41 events last year.
This is the same Oscar De La Hoya who went on record in recent weeks stating that Hearn “doesn't understand the fight game,” albeit his company is producing ¼ of the bouts that Matchroom is. Tom Brown's TGB Promotions (33 events), which works with Premier Boxing Champions, and Top Rank (19 events), also clearly outpace Golden Boy. From the numbers, Hearn understands the business just fine, but De La Hoya lags behind the competition. That certainly was evident four months ago when he failed to secure a deal for Jaime Munguia to challenge WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo.
Both fighters had agreed to terms for the fight, but then De La Hoya, founder and chairman of Golden Boy floated the idea of a joint pay-per-view between DAZN and Showtime, despite executives from both entities having no interest in such a co-promotion. Golden Boy appears so desperate for money they're willing to commit the same mistake again.
Soon after Ryan Garcia dropped Javier Fortuna three times en route to a sixth-round knockout, fans at the Crypto.com Arena began chanting, “We want Tank! We want Tank!” in unison. Once again, we run into the same problem. Garcia (23-0, 19 K.O.s) is tied to Golden Boy and DAZN, while Davis (27-0, 25 K.O.s) is bound to Al Haymon and Showtime. Thus, the cycle repeats itself. “That's the fight that everybody wants. We will have to come together as promoters and do what's right for the fans. You can't have one network say, ‘no, we have to be exclusive.' We're with DAZN, and DAZN has been great to Golden Boy, so DAZN has to be involved in that fight. They have done it already with other promoters and networks. Why not share it?”
— Golden Boy (@GoldenBoyBoxing) July 17, 2022
Reminiscent of the Charlo-Munguia negotiations, Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza sees no reason to include DAZN in a possible Tank-Garcia mega fight. “Ryan Garcia’s not exclusive to DAZN,” Espinoza told Dan Canobbio. “I know Golden Boy is, but the reality is it's an interesting and ironic change of events. They've spent three years trying to go around us to get to every fighter that we have. Now, all of a sudden, they've figured out, ‘Hey, let's go to them.' Look, I don't think that we need two platforms in this. I don't. I think there are plenty of other ways that are fair to resolve this.
“Golden Boy has a deal with DAZN; I don't think Ryan Garcia personally has a deal with DAZN. I'm not an expert on that sort of aspect of it, but it's not as if they've signed Ryan Garcia to an exclusive contract. I mean, DAZN repeatedly said, ‘Hey, we're going to Deontay Wilder, and we went to the Charlos, we went to Danny Garcia, we went to Thurman — it's all these guys because they aren't signed exclusive to Showtime, so why would we need to go to Showtime?' Well, you know, the shoe is on the other foot now — why would we need to go to DAZN when DAZN hasn't signed Ryan exclusively?”
Golden Boy is at a very vulnerable part of its lifecycle where its best fighters are outgrowing the company. Estrada was the first domino, but it's only a matter of time before the others inevitably fall with it. Once Garcia realizes Golden Boy can't deliver the Tank Davis fight, nothing will stop him from leaving. Not only is he a marketing machine, but Garcia is also a very talented fighter that Golden Boy can't afford to lose. Vergil Ortiz Jr. is on the same end of the stick.
Ortiz (18-0, 18 K.O.s) is a naturally big welterweight and will move up to 154-pounds sooner rather than later. Nearly all of the top junior middleweight contenders are with PBC. Furthermore, undisputed Jermell Charlo is also aligned with the company. Based on how Golden Boy has conducted business with PBC/Showtime over the last few months, how will his promoter be able to land him a long overdue world title shot? Ortiz didn't help his cause earlier this year when he was forced to withdraw from a scheduled bout in March against England's Michael McKinson after he was hospitalized and diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis.
According to medical experts in the boxing and fitness industry, the condition is typically connected to rapid weight loss from overtraining. Of course, it's Ortiz's body, and he shouldn't have blown up in weight. However, Golden Boy should also shoulder some of the blame for keeping one of their best fighters on the shelf for eight months. That can't be good for business. In this sport, you're sharpening the blade or getting dull – there's no in-between. The same can be applied to companies, and Golden Boy is in decline.
Solution: Sell Golden Boy to Matchroom
Given their recent comments about one another, De La Hoya and Hearn may have to host a sing-along for this idea to come to fruition. Despite their struggles, Golden Boy has deep connections in the No. 1 boxing market in the United States. While Hearn dominates the scene in England and has Canelo on his team, he has not experienced similar results in recruiting American talent to his stable. De La Hoya has also floated the idea of selling his company on social media. Can a deal be made?
Golden Boy has survived despite losing Canelo and an influx of Haymon-managed fighters, including Errol Spence Jr. and Deontay Wilder, following the resignation of former CEO Richard Schaefer in 2014. When De La Hoya is in the right mindset, he's a major asset to the sport of boxing. Along with Eric Gomez, the duo continues to sign talented fighters. Furthermore, matchmaker Roberto Diaz has a long history of developing fighters. All of that is great, but where Golden Boy struggles, Matchroom excels.
Over the last several years, many fighters have complained about treatment and/or communication issues with the company. Whether it be Canelo, Garcia, Andrew Cancio, etc., this is an area where Golden Boy has struggled for quite some time.
Matchroom has done a tremendous job with their fighters, but for its American brand to succeed, they need a developmental structure which they lack. Although they have signed a number of North American prospects, including Nikita Ababiy, Ammo Williams, and Marc Castro, they are far from their objective of conquering the American market.
Golden Boy has the parts, but Matchroom has the tools to consummate the dream. From their excellent creative team to their digital P.R. personnel and a laundry list of entertaining prospects, this couldn't be a more opportune time for Matchroom to purchase Golden Boy. Imagine scooping up Garcia, Ortiz, and likely Estrada—who will fit perfectly in Matchroom's rising female kingdom—this would be the equivalent of the Dodgers or another major sports team picking up multiple future superstars during one off-season. Furthermore, if Matchroom can find a way to retain De La Hoya, Gomez, and Diaz in some capacity, expect more fighters to join the party.