(Is Golden Boy ready to get in the game?)
The trouble with announcing that you’re about to make a big announcement is that people start chipping away at it, trying to spoil your surprise. It’s been less than twenty-four hours since Affliction “rescheduled” its October 11 event, and the rumors are flying. COO Michael Cohen told NBC Sports that he expected Fedor Emelianenko to be added to the event, now back at the Honda Center in January, but who would he face?
Reached for comment earlier today, Cohen told me he wasn’t sure yet whether Fedor would face “Andrei Arlovski or someone else.” When asked where that left Josh Barnett, he replied, “or Josh Barnett.”
In other words, Fedor will fight the always-formidable ‘TBA’ for Affliction in January, but that’s obviously not the big announcement. Rumor has it that it more likely involves a partnership of some sort with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. You may recall that Golden Boy was said to be on board back in the beginning, but supposedly dropped out after the announcement was made prematurely before issues of control were completely ironed out.
Affliction isn’t making that mistake again. When asked about a potential Golden Boy partnership or co-promotion, Cohen said he could not “confirm or deny” those rumors. He offered the same response when asked whether this might open the door for them to land a deal with HBO, although HBO seems to be rejecting that notion outright, according to Director of Media Relations, Kevin Flaherty:
“HBO is not in discussions with any MMA organization presently. Our sports programming plate is full.”
For now Golden Boy seems like the frontrunner for this big announcement, but what will that mean for Affliction? A possible MMA/boxing venture, or just some promotional and financial aid? Affliction is tight-lipped for the moment, not wanting to ruin the surprise, but Cohen assured us, ““When we make the announcement the reasons for this will all be self-evident.”
MMA fans have heard that one before, as Cohen acknowledged.
“The difference is,” he said, “we’re not just announcing a toy line.”