Ron Lewis examines and ranks the most powerful and influential figures in the world of boxing today
50. Bob Logist
Logist has been president of the EBU since 2007, a period that has seen the organisation’s power and importance diluted as the likes of the WBO and IBF throw their “regional” belts at every market they can, although as an umbrella group of federations, it does better than most to retain credibility.
49. Matt Rose
There could be interesting times ahead for Australian boxing, so you might soon be hearing more of Matt Rose, a former schoolteacher, who is the promoter of the country’s new boxing face, Tim Tszyu, the son of Kostya. Just seven years ago he staged his first show in a social club in the New South Wales town of Dubbo.
48. Brian Dunn
The head of boxing in Nebraska, but more importantly the president of the Association of Boxing Commissions, as close to a national federation as boxing in the United States gets.
47. Robert Smith
The General Secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control played a huge, if understated, role in bringing boxing back in the midst of the pandemic. His other role in 2020 was to answer some difficult questions about the performance of certain British officials. Faces a perilous 2021 with the cash-strapped Board if the current restrictions continue.
46. Yvon Michel
It has been a quiet year for boxing in Canada, and a difficult one for Michel’s GYM group, who found themselves the subject of a 15-day suspension in the summer from the authorities. Michel has a proven track record for building up stars in his Quebec base, however, and it attached to several prospects.
45. Freddie Roach
Still best known for his work with Manny Pacquiao, Roach remains the go-to trainer for top-class fighters wanting a change or hot prospects needing an experienced head to guide them.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
44. Sam Watson
Sam Watson, along with his sons, Brandon and Marcus, have effectively been the public face of Al Haymon, the secretive manager/adviser for the past 20 years. Watson has been a friend of Haymon since the 1980s, working firstly with him in music then, from the 1990s in boxing.
43. Bruce Trampler
Senior matchmaker with Top Rank, a company he has worked for since the days they were promoting Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns. He has been in the International Boxing Hall of Fame since 2010 and he’s one of the most-respected figures in the entire industry.
42. Daniel Kinahan
Once content in the shadows as an advisor, a glowing testimonial from Bob Arum and a claim by Fury that he had sealed a deal for a Fury-Joshua fight prompted widespread press attention about his links to an organised crime group. A co-founder of MTK Global, although they claim he has no role with them now. It has recently been reported he has nothing to do with the sport at all anymore, but his reputation still looms large.
41. Joe Tsai
The billionaire co-founder of Alibaba – the Asian version of Amazon – Tsai’s company became big players in the boxing business when it bought the Barclays Center as part of their acquisition of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, whether Tsai has any actual interest in boxing or not.
40. Katie Taylor
A good year for women’s boxing and Taylor, the undisputed world lightweight champion, remains at the forefront, with two wins, including settling previous differences with Delfine Persoon.
39. Andrey Ryabinsky
Best known as the promoter of Alexander Povetkin and Denis Lebedev, entrepreneur-turned promoter Ryabinsky and his company, World of Boxing, are involved with a strong of top talents including Dmitry Bivol.
38. Umar Kremlev
The new president of AIBA has a massive task sorting out the finances of the amateur code’s governing body and trying to get back its Olympic status in time for the Paris Games in 2024. That a Russian was elected to the role in the same week that Russia was thrown out of the Olympics some would call ‘typical AIBA’.
37. Eric Gomez
Gomez is president of Golden Boy Promotions, having been with the company from its start in 2002. Now he is the main man in most of the contract negotiations, from fighters to TV networks as well as being in charge of the day-to-day running of the company.
36. Kim Sumbler
New York’s boxing scene has been decimated by COVID, but it would be wrong to ignore Sumbler, who has put the state at the forefront of boxing safety during her spell as executive director of the athletic commission, implementing some of the most advanced policies for tackling concussion and head injuries.
35. Andreas Benz
The new CEO of World Boxing Super Series AG, the Swiss company that owns and runs the much-loved WBSS. Season III looks set to be announced in February.
34. Frank Smith
Eddie Hearn’s right-hand man at Matchroom and likely successor in charge of boxing, should Hearn ever move upstairs to take on his father’s role as company chairman. Shows in the UK, US, Mexico, Italy and Spain keep him busy enough.
33. Logan Paul/Jake Paul
While YouTubers’ boxing might not be here to stay, it is not going away soon. So, while Logan Paul is getting ready for an exhibition with Floyd Mayweather, brother Jake flattened a retired basketball player and is now calling out Conor McGregor and it is getting huge attention, much to our dismay. Possibly the most 2020 thing of all has been the idea that it is now Conor McGregor standing up for boxing integrity. Groan.
32. David McWater
A year ago, few would have known McWater, who set up Spit-T management in 2014, but he hit the jackpot this year when his star signing Teofimo Lopez beat Vasiliy Lomachenko to become undisputed world lightweight champion. As well as Lopez, his exciting stable includes the likes of Charles Conwell and Antonio Vargas.
31. Bob Bennett
A former FBI agent and marine, Bennett is the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, making him one of the sport’s important administrators. He’s familiar with controversy: This year’s big talking point was the Joshua Franco-Andrew Moloney fight and instant (or not-so-instant) replays, when a failure to find a head clash to support a referee’s decision, did not stop them backing the seemingly unbackable.
30. Alexander Krassyuk
The head man now at K2 Promotions and a key figure in the career of Oleksandr Usyk, who will be getting a shot at the WBO heavyweight title next year, whether Anthony Joshua keeps hold of that belt or not.
29. Francisco Varcarcel
Once the lawyer of Wilfredo Gomez, the Puerto Rican became involved with the WBO when it was set up in 1988 and has been president since 1996.
28. Daryl Peoples
If any group are fussy sticklers for a rule, it is the IBF, hence their continued insistence on low-grade mandatory challengers, which has gone on this year despite the COVID pandemic.
27. Gilberto Mendoza Jnr
It has been some time since Mendoza promised to clear up the mess of the WBA’s “super“ and “regular” world champions, something he is a long way from still fulfilling. But if an organisation goes out of its way to be adaptable for promoters, they cannot at the same time have firm standards.
26. Margaret Goodman
Dr Goodman was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame this year, a mark of her work is setting up VADA – the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association – the sport’s first real serious attempt to tackle a drug problem in the sport. Most believe the surface is only being scratched on the problem.
25. George Kliavkoff
Las Vegas is likely to look to boxing to help attract millions of lost travellers. Kliavkoff took over from the long-serving Richard Sturm as the MGM’s president of entertainment and sports, which not only puts him in charge of all their Las Vegas venues – T-Mobile Arena, MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay among them – but also the likes of the MGM National Harbor near Washington DC.
24. Shelly Finkel
One of the great survivors in the industry, Finkel was last spotted arguing for Deontay Wilder’s rights for a third fight with Tyson Fury. Whether he proves successful in that is one matter, but it never pays to write Finkel off.
23. Eddy Reynoso
When Canelo Alvarez split from Golden Boy and took DAZN to court, Eddy Reynoso, his manager and co-trainer was the one taking centrestage calling the odds. A growing influence over Canelo is to be expected, but others are coming to him now, notably Ryan Garcia – a young man who has had his own fallouts with Golden Boy – and Andy Ruiz Jnr.
22. Oscar De La Hoya
The departure of Canelo Alvarez from Golden Boy is a tough blow for De La Hoya’s company, which was already having public disagreements with Ryan Garcia. De La Hoya had rebuilt the company behind Canelo after De La Hoya’s split with Richard Schaefer and is vowing to do so again.
21. Mike Tyson
Yes, it is 2020. But reports that Tyson’s exhibition bout with Roy Jones Jnr did 1.6 million pay-per-view buys means it is unlikely to be the end of that adventure. Indeed, it is not hard to see a meeting with Evander Holyfield and, sadly, it is not beyond the bounds of imagination that, having got through the exhibition, some commission would sanction it as a real fight.
20. Floyd Mayweather
Mayweather seems to be re-engaging in the sport in a big way, with an exhibition with Logan Paul, a big year for his star fighter, Gervonta Davis, and a new friendship with Anthony Joshua.
19. Tyson Fury
What a year for the Gypsy King. He did not get the December run-out he had hoped for, but his demolition of Deontay Wilder to win the WBC heavyweight title removed any question marks that that hung over him. If a fight with Anthony Joshua for the undisputed world heavyweight title takes place in 2021 (perhaps twice), he will make more money next year than most have ever dreamed of.
18. Anthony Joshua
Realistically, not many expected Kubrat Pulev to derail Joshua in what was the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion’s only fight of 2020, keeping the big fight with Tyson Fury alive, although the pandemic will have hit his global brand.
17. Mauricio Sulaiman
It has been a difficult year for the WBC’s president, who tries to strike a difficult balance between trying to make everyone happy and attempting to push the best fights and the best boxers. The WBC are far from the only organisation to get in a mess with a multitude of belts, but the situation with their ‘franchise’ champions makes him an easy target. The introduction of a bridgerweight division in 2020 did not go down well, either.
16. Akihiko Honda
“Mr Honda” has been a leading figure in Japanese boxing for the past half-century. The man behind the famed Teiken gym brand, who was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2009, is probably more responsible than anyone for Japan remaining at the forefront of the sport. Naoya Inoue, whom he co-promotes with Top Rank, is among his current stars.
15. Todd Duboef
Best known as Bob Arum’s son-in-law, Duboef is Top Rank’s president who makes the world’s biggest promotional company running smoothly, often having to put out a few fires Arum starts. Duboef did the deal that brought Top Rank back to ESPN, a deal that kept them ahead of the field in such a turbulent year.
14. Egis Klimas
Klimas has become the first stop for many former Soviet Bloc fighters who want to make it is the United States, following his successes with Sergey Kovalev, Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk. Born in Lithuania, his first job in the US was folding pizza boxes. Two years ago he bought Robert Garcia’s Oxnard gym as a base for his fighters and, despite Lomachenko’s loss to Teofimo Lopez, he is still a major player.
13. Simon Green
With the value of sports TV rights likely to fall in the wake of the pandemic, it is vital that boxing has its supporters in high positions. It certainly has a friend in Green, the head of BT Sport and a former CEO of BoxNation, whose long-term deal with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, ensured a good stream of quality action for subscribers this year despite the lack of fans and security going ahead.
12. Rob Webster
The managing director of Sky Sports, which remains the biggest broadcasters in British boxing. An interesting year lies ahead with the exclusive deal with Matchroom due to expire and pressure to cut licensing costs in a COVID world.
11. Bob Yalen
From small beginnings in Marbella, MTK Global now have a truly worldwide reach, promoting shows in the UK, Europe. Middle East and even Kazakhstan, with gyms opening up all over the place, TV deals in the US and UK as well as a host of big names under contract. Yalen, who has a background in sports TV at NBC and ESPN, was a director at the Mohegan Sun, became MTK president in 2018.
10. Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal
With big crowds seemingly some way off, promoters are likely to go far and wide in search of finance for big fights. Prince Abdulaziz, chairman of the General Sports Authority in Saudi Arabia, put together a deal to bring Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Andy Ruiz Jnr to the outskirts of Riyadh, and is likely to be on speed-dial to talk about a Joshua-Tyson Fury fight.
9. Frank Warren
It was a tough finish to the year with losses for two of Warren’s best hopes in Daniel Dubois and Anthony Yarde, but his Queensberry Promotions have dealt with a bad year as well as anyone, showing the benefit of a rock-solid long-term TV deal with BT Sport. It means he has a stable packed with young talent as well as WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
8. Burke Magnus
As ESPN’s executive vice president of programming and scheduling, Magnus was close to putting together the deal with Top Rank that made the cable channel and attached streaming network, ESPN+, central to a new age of ambitious boxing programming. In a recent reshuffle of the seats at ESPN’s boardroom level, Magnus’s position seems to have been strengthened as he was also put in charge of ESPN’s original content and films division.
7. Kalle and Nisse Sauerland
In the messy world of boxing, Kalle’s brainchild of the World Boxing Super Series has proved a guiding light for the sport and constantly delivered, with a new season likely to be announced in February. The brothers’ bread and butter business remains among Europe’s promotional powerhouses.
6. Stephen Espinoza
The bidding war caused by the arrival of twin streaming services DAZN and ESPN+ may have done for HBO in boxing, but Showtime are still about and looking in good shape under Espinoza’s stewardship. With Errol Spence, the Charlos and Gervonta Davis, among others, they could stage some big shows in 2021.
5. John Skipper
With ticket-sellers not a thing right now, boxing is very much a case of the haves and have-nots. The haves are the ones with TV deals and with DAZN’s global expansions back on track, the amount of money being ploughed into the sport is still high. The dip in live sport will have had a big impact on subscriber numbers, while there have been rumours this year of Skipper, the executive director of DAZN parent company, the Perform Group, looking for outside investors. Even so, confidence remains high in the product.
4. Al Haymon
Haymon is never one to make public pronouncements, so it was no great surprise that the shutdown on world sport led to Haymon’s PBC almost vanishing. They came back strongly in the second half of the year, though, with a string of impressive shows, which promised great things for next year for the likes of Gervonta Davis, Errol Spence and the Charlos.
3. Eddie Hearn
Hearn’s Matchroom invested big during the lockdown to ensure they would hit the ground running when crowds returned, losing a seven-figure sum on the Fight Camp series, but managing to find the finances to put on Joshua-Pulev as part of their residency at the SSE Arena, Wembley, from October to December. An interesting year lies ahead, with Matchroom’s Sky deal due for renewal, DAZN’s planned global roll-out and two Joshua-Tyson Fury fights to look ahead to.
2. Bob Arum
At 89, Arum keeps on rolling, not only as a figurehead and mouthpiece for Top Rank, but as a man capable of making and breaking deals. The ongoing bubble in Las Vegas has become the heart of the business, ensuring Top Rank’s biggest names have been able to remain busy. Lopez-Lomachenko was huge, and underscored Lopez’s position as the company’s latest big name.
1. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
At one point it seemed Canelo might spend more time in court than the ring in 2002, but he underlined his place as the world No 1 by beating Callum Smith to become the WBC and WBA super-middleweight champion, to finish the year on a high. He also goes into 2021 as a promotional free agent. He broke away from Golden Boy and the biggest deal in sports history with DAZN, only to negotiate his own deal with DAZN for the Smith fight. He might not be able to match his previous deal with DAZN in a post-pandemic world, but he will be in demand.