(Miguel Cotto, left, weighed in at 153.6, while Austin Trout, right, weighed in at 154 exactly after stripping to his birthday suit; photo credit, Carlos Suarez, Jr., FightImages.com)
NEW YORK CITY — TQBR caught up with Golden Boy Promotions' Richard Schaefer Friday at the weigh-in for Miguel Cotto vs. Austin Trout the next night on Showtime, where we asked him about the choice of Trout for Cotto's opponent, what's next for Adrien Broner, how to transform Lucas Matthysse from a hardcore fan favorite into a star and why Peter Quillin might fight Jermain Taylor next.
That covers most of the waterfront for some of Golden Boy's bigger names who aren't already enlisted for an upcoming fight (like Devon Alexander and Amir Khan) or who might soon be fighting one another (Floyd Mayweather vs. Saul Alvarez or Robert Guerrero).
Between the pulsing beats from the loudspeakers to hype the Puerto Rican-friendly crowd and before all the boxers got down to their skivvies and stepped on the scale, this is what Schaefer had to say:
Schaefer said he wasn't aware of any reports that Cotto-Trout wasn't proving as popular with fans as past Cotto bouts at Madison Square Garden, and suggested it might be rumor-mongering from Golden Boy's biggest promotional rival Top Rank. Cotto had been with Top Rank prior to moving over to Golden Boy this year.
"I'm not going to get involved in all this negativity," he said. "It will be a great crowd and an electric fight crowd. This is his home, Miguel's."
If Cotto is going to fight at junior middleweight, though, and the idea is to set up an Alvarez fight, it was inevitable that he'd be facing someone who was somewhat obscure, the way Trout is. Look at the junior middleweight ranks and see if anyone jumps out at you outside of Cotto or Alvarez, Schaefer said.
"Saul and Cotto are the two biggest names at 154, and then Austin Trout is right there… Of course, an Austin Trout is not a Shane Mosley or Antonio Margarito," Schaefer said. "But he's a very credible guy, he's a world champ, he's undefeated. You're absolutely right he doesn't carry the same recognition as some other guys.
"It's a dangerous fight," he continued. "If you look at the 154 pound weight class Austin Trout is certainly one of the most dangerous opponents, maybe not so much because of his punching power," but because smart fighters like him sometimes "pose more of a danger than a power puncher who's more predictable. Trout has a very difficult style, a dangerous style, and Miguel Cotto will have to adjust to that style. If you're looking for the most challenging fight at 154, that's Austin Trout."
Talks are indeed underway for Broner to face top lightweight Ricky Burns, Schaefer said, although that could be difficult for Broner's next fight, and he's targeting New York as the location.
"I've been talking to HBO. We're going to see if we can get him back in February," said Schaefer, who said he'd like Broner to fight four times in 2013. "One of the names was Ricky Burns… Ricky Burns is fighting Dec. 15, so maybe it would make it difficult for him to fight in February. We'll see what other names out there."
Atlantic City is a possibility, too, but so is Barclays in Brooklyn, he said. Then it could be a tour around the country. Broner has already proven himself a bit of a draw in his native Cincinnati.
"I'd definitely like him to fight in New York. New York is, along with Las Vegas and Los Angeles, one of the most important markets in boxing, so I would like to have him fight in New York. I would like to see him fight in Los Angeles as well," Schaefer said. "He has an entertaining personality and style. He's like Mr. Hollywood. Him fighting eventually in Las Vegas is going to happen as well."
Schaefer said the broader exposure is ideal for one of the fighters who, after Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao and Cotto depart, is "going to carry the sport for the next decade."
Matthysse doesn't have an opponent yet, Schaefer said, but the plan is for the junior welterweight slugger to fight at the very beginning of 2013.
"He was supposed to fight in December in Argentina. That fight fell through. Now, he's going to be fighting Jan. 19 on Showtime right under Kell Brook and Devon Alexander," Schaefer said.
Hardore fans already adore Matthysse, but he has not shown a knack yet for moving tickets or television ratings.
"I think he's going to be eventually in one of those marquee fights at 140, 147," Schaefer said. "Once he has those marquee fights" — and Schaefer said that time is nearing for Matthysse — "he will then become the star who should crossover from the pure boxing fans to the general sports fans as well."
Some fans and writers have griped about the idea of middleweight Quillin fighting Taylor, the former middleweight champion who is well past his best days. Schaefer defended it, comparing it to the super middleweight bout between Andre Ward and Kelly Pavlik, and arguing that we don't really know what Taylor has left but that it would be unwise to count out a former champ.
"Peter Quillin looks like he is going to fight Jermain Taylor" on the undercard of Danny Garcia-Zab Judah, Schaefer said. That fight is booked for Feb. 9. Danny Jacobs could also be on the card, assuming he wins this weekend.
"It's a crossroads fight. You look at Kelly Pavlik, that's a crossroads fight for him to be fighting Andre Ward. People can say hey look, he's fighting Pavlik, how good is that. I think you have the same thing with Quillin and Jermain Taylor," he said. "When you are a veteran and you were world champion, then as they say there's that one fight left in those great fighters and Jermain Taylor, we don't really know where he stands.
"He obviously was in some vicious battles and on the losing end of those vicious battles but he kept battling. I think it's an interesting match-up," Schaefer continued. "We're going to see if Jermain Taylor can turn back the time and become world champion again. He wants that one shot at a world title again and he's going to get that one shot and I think Jermain Taylor has earned that one last shot at a world title… When you know a loss is the end of the road, that makes you much more dangerous."
And, Schaefer said, Quillin still has a lot to prove.
"Peter, by the way, is still a young fighter who is still developing and to go in with a veteran like that, it's a test," he said.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency
I tried to ask one specific question about a theme that's emerged in a few stories over at Maxboxing regarding Golden Boy and USADA, namely that a couple different times, fighters or other promoters have complained about being left out of the loop on notification about what's happening with test procedures or test results. Schaefer didn't want to answer.
"It's a story — and I'm Swiss — it's like a piece of Swiss cheese full of holes, inaccurate and totally one-sided," he said. I interjected that I was asking about on the record remarks from fighters and other promoters, but he said, "I really don't want to get into that. If they want to attack USADA for lack of transparency, if they want to attack Golden Boy for trying to something possibly good for the sport, then let them do it. There is no reason for me to go back and forth with these people. They say, 'This is more eggshell' and I'm going to say 'No, it's white.' These people are waiting for me to respond so they can write another story, and I'm so over it. They can write what they want to write and I could care less. I'm going to leave it at that."
(UPDATE: I gave Thomas Hauser and Gabriel Montoya a chance to rebut what Schaefer said; I have included their remarks in the comments section below.)