The movers and shakers in the boxing industry are frequently men or women who have never had their hands taped, stepped between the ropes and swapped punches.
But their decisions often affect the fights that are made, which will be on television and which will be on pay-per-view, who gets a title shot and who does not.
Yahoo! Sports has come up with a none-too-scientific list of the 25 most influential/powerful people in boxing. It is one man's selections of the people who have the most impact upon the fights you see.
The list includes eight men who are primarily promoters, four who are primarily boxers, four who work in television, four who server as managers, two matchmakers, one sanctioning body official, one trainer and one regulator.
Without further adieu, this is the first Yahoo! Sports list of the 25 most powerful and influential figures in boxing:
1. Oscar De La Hoya, boxer/promoter: The Golden Boy is far and away the most powerful individual in the sport. He's still the game's best individual draw, when he chooses to fight, which he says he'll do three times in 2008. But he's also the head of Golden Boy Promotions, which, along with Top Rank, is one of the game's two leading promotional companies. De La Hoya pretty much gets what he wants when it comes to television dates, venues and opponents.
2. Ross Greenburg, president, HBO Sports: Boxing doesn't air regularly on free network television and ESPN spends only a pittance per show. That leaves HBO at the top of the heap when it comes to televising boxing. Greenburg has a significant budget and a better than three times the number of subscribers of rival Showtime. As a result, he has an extremely large voice in the major fights you see.
3. Bob Arum, chairman, Top Rank: Arum's company has more quality fighters than any other. Top Rank is also the most innovative. If Arum doesn't like a deal he's offered by Showtime or HBO, he'll spend the money to broadcast the fight on his own. De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are the top two attractions in boxing, but they were groomed and fought most of their fights under Arum.
4. Richard Schaefer, CEO, Golden Boy Promotions: Schaefer is Oscar De La Hoya's chief lieutenant and culls most of his influence because of that. But Schaefer has proven to be a brilliant negotiator and he's largely built the Golden Boy empire.
5. Al Haymon, boxing manager: Haymon is adverse to publicity and drew the ire of members of the Boxing Writers Association of America for failing to cooperate after members voted him the 2006 Manager of the Year. He handles the careers of numerous luminaries, most notably Mayweather. Haymon seems to have a great in at HBO and somehow manages to get his fighters placed in the most advantageous positions, usually at the least risk.
6. Floyd Mayweather Jr., boxer: By virtue of his vast skill and his free agency, Mayweather commands respect in the game. Any promoter would fall all over himself if he were to get a call from the Pretty Boy. Mayweather showed off some of his influence when he got a rematch with De La Hoya on one of his key terms: in September instead of in May.
7. Mark Taffet, senior vice president, HBO Sports: Boxing writers may dread his laboriously long news conference speeches, but he's got a great instinct for what will sell and for how to build a promotion. Much of the success of HBO Pay-Per-View is due to Taffet.
8. Don King, owner, Don King Productions: King would have been No. 1 on this list in many of the past 35 years, but his stable has shrunken remarkably. He doesn't have many significant fighters, which reduces his influence somewhat, but few can gain the attention from the corporate bigwigs like King. Consider the deal he was able to extract from Charles and James Dolan for the Roy Jones-Felix Trinidad fight at Madison Square Garden.
9. Shelly Finkel, manager: Finkel is a dealmaker extraordinaire, whose clients include IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. Once closely aligned with promoter Main Events, Finkel now operates independently and has great respect and influence within the industry.
10. Todd duBoef, president, Top Rank: Arum's stepson, duBoef can't command media attention the way Arum is able to do, but duBoef has largely run the careers of Erik Morales and Miguel Cotto, two of Top Rank's most successful fighters of the past decade. 11. Kery Davis, senior vice president of programming, HBO Sports: You want to get your fighter onto HBO, you talk to Davis. You run the boxing franchise at HBO and you're automatically one of the game's most powerful figures.
12. Emanuel Steward, trainer/manager/broadcaster: Steward remains one of the game's great trainers and is largely responsible for the rebirth of IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. His role as the color commentator on HBO broadcasts adds to his sway in the industry.
13. Ken Hershman, senior vice president and general manager of sports and event programming, Showtime: Hershman doesn't have the money or the subscriber base to compete with HBO, but he has a bigger wallet than anyone else in the industry.
14. Bruce Trampler, matchmaker, Top Rank: Nothing of significance happens at Top Rank without Trampler's OK. If Trampler doesn't like a match, it won't get made. He has an extraordinary eye for talent and managers flock to him.
15. Jose Sulaiman, president, WBC: The sanctioning bodies represent much that is wrong with boxing, but there is no denying the impact Sulaiman has upon the game not only in the U.S. but around the world.
16. Manny Pacquiao, boxer: Pacquiao has become big box office, which carries major influence. Look at the way Golden Boy and Top Rank went at it over his rights.
17. Eric Gomez, matchmaker, Golden Boy Promotions: De La Hoya's boyhood friend makes the fights for GBP and has a lot of say in everything but the highest level fights.
18. Fernando Beltran, promoter: Beltran is the leading promoter in Mexico, but he gains much of his influence for delivering quality Mexican fighters such as Erik Morales and Jose Luis Castillo to Top Rank.
19. Bernard Hopkins, boxer/president, Golden Boy East: While Shane Mosley and Marco Antonio Barrera, the other partner-boxers in Golden Boy, serve largely ceremonial roles, Hopkins is actively involved in the company. Plus, he's still a top-level fighter who has become a solid pay-per-view seller.
20. Cameron Dunkin, manager: Dunkin hasn't become a household name, like Finkel, but he has a huge stable of quality fighters and has an expert eye.
21. Lou DiBella, president, DiBella Entertainment: The promoter of former middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, DiBella doesn't hold as much sway as he did when he controlled what seemed like three-quarters of the dates on HBO, but he's still a go-to guy.
22. John Bailey, chairman, Nevada Athletic Commission: He runs the most widely respected athletic commission in the world. He's shrewd, honest and hard-working. Because Nevada gets so many of the game's significant fights, Bailey's position has a great influence on the sport's welfare.
23. Leonard Ellerbe, CEO, Mayweather Promotions: The best friend of Mayweather gains significant influence in the sport because of his closeness with Mayweather and Haymon. His influence will likely dwindle when Mayweather retires, but if Ellerbe calls one of the game's power brokers now, it will get answered on the first ring.
24. Dan Goossen, president, Goossen-Tutor Promotions: A clever and hard-working promoter, "Daddy Goose" doesn't have the money or the fighters that he had when he was at the now-defunct America Presents, but Goossen still occasionally comes up with a big show.
25. Gary Shaw, president, Gary Shaw Productions: Shaw used to promote Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Winky Wright, Shane Mosley, Diego Corrales and Manny Pacquiao. Now, he promotes WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson and super bantamweight Rafael Marquez and has a working relationship with powerful manager Haymon.
Just missed (list is alphabetical): Luis Barragan, director of programming, HBO Sports; Kathy Duva, CEO, Main Events; Armando Garcia, executive officer, California State Athletic Commission; Gordon Hall, vice president of production, Showtime; Akihiro Honda, promoter, Teiken Promotions; David Itskowitch, COO, Golden Boy Promotions; Keith Kizer, executive director, Nevada Athletic Commission; Klaus Peter Kohl, promoter, Universum; Larry Merchant, broadcaster, HBO Sports; Carl Moretti, matchmaker, DiBella Entertainment; Mogens Palle, manager/promoter; Wilfred Sauerland, manager/promoter; Ron Scott Stevens, chairman, New York Athletic Commission; Frank Warren, promoter, The Sports Network; Jim Wilkes, adviser/manager.
- Oscar De La Hoya
- Top Rank
- Golden Boy Promotions
- Bob Arum