The following article was originally published on Forbes.com but is now presented exclusively on RingTV.com.
What is influence?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, it is “the capacity to affect the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.”
On the 2023 boxing scene, the definition of influence springs from the principles listed above but is manifested in a variety of areas: social media engagement, power moves made behind the scenes, branching entertainment, brands being built, expert analysis and opinions, news, in-ring strategy, and, of course, the brilliance and magnetism of select fighters with the “It” factor. The qualities and positions mentioned lead to influence in the boxing world.
I spoke to more than 50 professionals from every corner of the boxing industry (fighters, trainers, promoters, managers, matchmakers, and more), polled them, picked their brains, recorded their thoughts, and consulted with a representative (Jonathan Cohen of Bedrock) from social media analytics firm ListenFirst to gain raw data.
Based on the comments and data, expert opinions, and observations, I’ve compiled a list of the 50 most influential people in boxing.
The list is not in order of influence but instead categorized by the most prominent roles in the industry.
That said, let’s start with the voices.
Whether we agree or disagree with their opinions and deliveries, there is a select group in the boxing world whose voices serve as the primary source of information to the public.
In some instances, these voices start or continue the conversation around the hottest topics in the sport. Let’s look at the most influential voices in boxing.
Thanks to more than 200K followers on X, a senior writer position with Sports Illustrated, a presence on DAZN’s boxing streams, and DAZN’s Boxing Show, Chris Mannix is one of the most prominent voices in boxing.
Mannix shares strong on-camera opinions, is active on social media, and can often be seen interviewing some of the most recognizable talents in boxing.
Mannix’s Off the Cuff program on DAZN offers fight fans a more intimate look into the minds of fighters as he speaks face-to-face with those who move the needle inside the ring.
Recent guests include Jake Paul, Conor Benn, Anthony Joshua and Gervonta Davis.
With multiple platforms to speak to the boxing community, Mannix has proven to be a connector between the fighters and the fans.
Sergio Mora’s journey has been pretty amazing.
He went from amateur fighter to the winner of the reality TV show The Contender, to world champion boxer. Known for his technical boxing ability and heart in the ring, Mora has transitioned from being a fighter to a spot at the announcer’s table.
Mora is a color analyst for DAZN and also a regular guest on DAZN’s Boxing Show with Chris Mannix.
Whether you love or hate Mora’s takes, his impact on boxing fans is undeniable.
“I cannot ask for a better colleague,” DAZN’s Claudia Trejos said to me about Mora via text. “He [along with Mannix] brings their A-Game to every assignment. They support and teach and take the team’s quality to a higher level.”
Few have had a career in boxing that is as far-reaching as Teddy Atlas.
From his early days working with Mike Tyson and Cus D’Amato to providing one of the voices for the iconic Knockout Kings video game series, to training Timothy Bradley and other top fighters, to his work on ESPN and beyond, few people have a more recognizable voice in boxing than Teddy Atlas.
Atlas-isms are a thing, and his takes on up-and-coming fighters and stars are still viable. His YouTube channel has over 280,000 subscribers, and he consistently discusses the nuances of boxing and mixed martial arts in his content.
This conversation below about the controversial low blow in the Daniel DuBois-Oleksandr Usyk bout drew 120,000 views.
Representation is essential in every industry.
No one represents the Latino community in boxing better than Bernardo Osuna, the valuable member of ESPN and Top Rank’s boxing broadcast teams.
Boxing is a sport that serves dozens of ethnicities. However, Latinos are among the most prominent. The various Latino boxing communities are so strong there is enough influence among them to elevate fighters into a space of relevance in the sport.
It is impossible to quantify the presence of Latino fighters in the sport, but consider this: There are more than 100 Latino fighters ranked in the Top 10 across the four governing bodies (WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF) at the various weight classes in the sport.
With so much Latino representation, there is immeasurable value in translation. Whether it is translating the dialog in the corner between rounds or during post-fight interviews with Spanish-speaking fighters, no one does it better or more eloquently than the bilingual Osuna.
His contributions to ESPN/Top Rank broadcasts provide an accurate look at key moments during and after a fight. Beyond the translations, Osuna does noteworthy work as a blow-by-blow announcer.
Most recently, he and Bradley worked on ESPN’s September 15 show featuring the up-and-coming Xander Zayas and the main event that saw Luis Alberto Lopez retain his IBF featherweight title via unanimous decision over Joet Gonzalez.
There isn’t enough female representation in boxing, which is one of the sport’s imperfections.
Despite the narrow path to inclusion, women like Top Rank’s Crystina Poncher have done more than survive in the sport; she has thrived. Poncher has co-hosted the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame induction gala alongside Al Bernstein and made herself a valuable part of one of the biggest broadcasting teams covering boxing.
Back in 2020, ahead of the ESPN/FOX broadcast of the PPV clash between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, members of the media took to X (formerly Twitter) to voice their displeasure with Poncher’s absence from the broadcast team.
While the heavyweight bout was the centerpiece of the boxing world that week, Poncher’s peers thought enough of her to call out her absence and recognize the void it created.
I spoke to Poncher’s colleague and former world champion, Timothy Bradley. He called her one of the most influential analysts in the sport today. In a recent post on X, Poncher announced a contract extension with Top Rank.
Thanks to this deal, Poncher will continue her broadcast career for one of the top promotions in the sport.
If you’ve ever watched a fight on Showtime, there is a great chance you’ve heard Steve Farhood’s voice between rounds, candidly giving his unofficial scorecard for the previous frame and his cumulative score up to that point in the contest. He has served as the unofficial scorer for Showtime Championship Boxing since 2001.
The impact of an unofficial scorer is massive but tough to quantify. Most fans don’t know how to score a round like an official judge. An unofficial scorer serves as a liaison between the fan and the judges, and they’re also able to offer context.
Their scores and explanations sway, confirm, or challenge viewers’ opinions on what they’ve been watching in the ring.
Farhood, inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017, will be the unofficial scorer on September 30 when Jermell Charlo challenges Canelo Alvarez for the super middleweight title on Showtime Championship Boxing.
For decades before this weekend’s huge 168-pound clash, Farhood has been a mainstay in the boxing community.
He was the editor-in-chief for both The Ring and KO Magazine. Farhood is also the Former Vice President of the Boxing Writers Association of America. At the core, he is a boxing historian who can go on an informed rant on fighters with just a handful of bouts or provide details on world champions like Canelo and Charlo.
One long-time boxing manager I spoke to said, “I don’t know anyone who knows more about the sport’s history than Steve.”
Because of Farhood’s experience and engaging speech, he delivers the information and takes that are invaluable to a boxing broadcast for fans.
After compiling a 33-2 professional record and capturing a world title in two divisions as a Hall-of-Fame fighter, Tim Bradley has successfully transitioned into his role as a color analyst for ESPN. Bradley speaks from the heart and passionately before, during, and after fights.
I spoke to him via text message and asked him about his journey from fighter to analyst, and he exhibited similar passion in his response.
“In the ring, I forged my path to the Hall of Fame with unsurpassed dedication, relentless courage, and unbreakable resilience,” Bradley said. “And now, beyond those ropes, my voice has become my gloves, striking with vivid insight and passion. With every punch thrown and landed, I invite you to feel the raw intensity as these warriors battle for respect, their loved ones, and the glory of becoming a world champion.”
Whether Bradley is expressing an opinion that proves to be a polarizing stance or dropping gems that only someone with his level of in-ring success could share, there is no questioning his contribution to the sport or the current conversations around the sweet science.
Jimmy Lennon Jr.
With his world-renown catchphrase, “It’s Showtime,” still relevant and noteworthy after being unearthed in 1992 (expect to hear it on Sept. 30 ahead of the Canelo-Charlo scrap) Jimmy Lennon Jr. remains one of the most recognizable faces and voices in boxing.
Just as was the case with his legendary father, the second-generation ring announcer’s presence before a fight has long signaled to fans that the event he’s preceding is a major one.
Lennon Jr. has and still is a contributor to the big-fight feel you so often hear referenced before the opening bell. In addition to the contributions that fans see, multiple people I spoke mentioned Lennon’s kindness and professionalism.
Showtime’s Brian Custer said, “Jimmy is one of the kindest human beings you’ll ever meet. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone with something negative to say about Jimmy Lennon Jr.”
The NBA has Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski. The NFL has Adam Schefter. Boxing has Mannix and ESPN’s Mike Coppinger.
If you don’t follow the NBA or NFL on social media, Charania, Wojnarowski, and Schefter sit at the top of the credibility lists in the world of insiders or breaking news reporters for their respective beats. When NBA and NFL fans see a post from the trio above, they know that the information is legitimate.
Mannix and Coppinger carry the most comparable influence in the world of boxing. Because of the boxing’s more segmented structure, Coppinger’s intel cannot be as all-encompassing as Charania, Wojnarowski, or Schefter. Still, Coppinger remains among the most trusted reporters in his space.
With more than 106,000 followers on X, Coppinger is one of the most followed individuals covering boxing for a significant network on social media, and he routinely collaborates with colleagues at ESPN to deliver breaking news and perspectives in boxing like the one below.
As one of the hosts of Showtime Championship Boxing and the host of The Last Stand podcast, veteran sports media personality Brian Custer is one of the most consistent voices in the sport.
Custer is a veteran of covering multiple sports, but his passion and love for boxing is something that shines through in his work around the Sweet Science.
“I love it [boxing],” Custer told me in a phone conversation in preparation for the article. “I love it. I love everything about it. It’s the theater of life. Sometimes you’re going to get knocked down. Are you going to take that 10 count, or are you going to get back up? I try to embody that in everything I do. I have so much respect for the fighters, what they put their bodies through to entertain and to provide for themselves and their families. It’s really an honor to cover the sport.”
In addition to the coverage he provides for boxing, Custer is also a prostate cancer survivor and an advocate for prevention and awareness of the disease.
Whether Custer is discussing boxing or the cause he has made a part of his purpose, there is a sincerity in his delivery. Viewers can feel it, which is part of the reason Custer is effective.
As a trailblazing talent currently working for DAZN, Claudia Trejos provides the network’s boxing broadcast team multi-layered value. As a bilingual journalist, Trejos conducts interviews with fighters in Spanish and English, thereby increasing the level of access to fans of the sport who speak both languages.
As a 25-year veteran of sports broadcast journalism, Trejos’ experience interviewing athletes shines through when she’s on screen and speaking to fighters at key moments before and after fights.
Her rapport with fighters like Canelo Alvarez, Conor Benn, Amanda Serrano and others helps to deliver a side of each fighter to the audience that isn’t always accessible in more-guarded post-fight interviews.
“My journey in boxing has been one of growth in every aspect of my life,” Trejos said to me via email. “With preparation and resilience I navigate the fickle world of boxing, an environment that at times is not very kind. As a Hispanic female, born and raised in Colombia- the road has had rough patches, but the passion and respect I have for the sport and the family that comes with it helps me dig deep into my “WHY.” No matter what, I do what I love. I am blessed.”
Nothing in boxing works without the fighters.
While all show bravery climbing into the ring, not every fighter’s name or presence carries the same influence. The boxers in this group are the most influential in the sport today.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-division world champion has blazed a trail for women’s boxing and tirelessly pursues gender equality in her sport.
Hailing from Flint, Michigan, where poverty and unspeakable abuse provided major early impediments on her rise, Claressa Shields has not only made herself an influential person as an elite female fighter but also as a survivor of the sort of hardships many can relate to in their own lives.
According to ListenFirst data, Shields has 920,952 followers across all social media platforms, which is easily the most of any female boxer in the world. Shields has also expanded her combat sports profile by participating in mixed martial arts with the PFL.
According to one of Shields’ advisors, Mark Taffet (a veteran of the boxing industry from decades working with HBO who is a part of Shields’ team with Dmitry Salita and others), there is a full-length feature film coming to the theaters based on the fighter’s childhood and Olympic success.
“After leaving HBO in 2015, I was looking for a new chapter that would be challenging, meaningful, legacy-contributing, and game-changing,” Taffet told me via email. “And then I met Claressa Shields. From the first conversation, I knew that with her God-given abilities in the ring and my experience and skills outside the ring, we could accomplish something transformational and historic.”
Shields is often a lightning rod for conversation because of her bold claims and unabashed approach to self-promotion, but Taffet understands her motivation and desire to make a mark. “She transcends women’s boxing and women’s sports; she has accomplished many things that no man in history has done,” Taffet said.
“She is the Charles Atlas who carries the whole of women’s boxing on her broad and capable shoulders. Claressa and I have done rolling two-year plans every few months since the day we met…nothing is done by accident…every move is made with a history-making purpose. I couldn’t have a more fascinating, committed, exciting and outstanding partner than Claressa Shields to walk this journey to history.”
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
The Mexican boxing community is arguably the strongest in the sport. Thus, the top Mexican fighter in the world will almost always have a level of influence that is difficult to quantify.
Canelo Alvarez is not only the top Mexican fighter, a post he has held for more than a decade, but he’s also one of the best in the world today. He has made the Forbes List among the world’s highest-paid athletes, and his social media reach is among the top among all combat sports athletes.
According to ListenFirst, Canelo has more than 25 million followers across all social media platforms. When he fights, no matter the opponent, it is the biggest boxing event of that particular month, and he has nailed down May and September (Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day) as staples on his annual calendar.
This year, Canelo will be in action on September 30 against Jermell Charlo, but you can bet the attraction to the event will still be strong.
I spoke with Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, and he talked about Canelo’s influence.
“You only have to look at Saul habitually appearing in the top ten of the Forbes highest paid athletes list to know how important this man is to boxing,” Hearn said via an email message.
“When you are mentioning someone in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Lebron James, Steph Curry – you are talking of the GOATs of the global sporting world, icons that crossover beyond their art – and Saul more than deserves his place there. I’ve had the honor of promoting six of his last seven fights, becoming close friends in the process and I’ve seen the man evolve and move from strength to strength in and out of the ring – a savvy businessman, brilliant operator with the media, committed to giving back to his sport and the community, and all the time with the work ethic of a challenger and underdog in the gym. Saul still has plenty left to offer the sport and will continue to make bank on both box offices in boxing, but this man’s legacy will just grow and grow once he calls it a day and that’s as exciting as he is in the ring.”
Love or hate the Problem Child, no one in boxing moves the needle more than the YouTuber-turned-combat sports athlete. Jake Paul has a whopping 72 million followers across social media platforms.
According to Forbes, Paul earned $40 million from boxing in 2021. Since then, Paul has also had significant revenue bouts against mixed martial arts legend Anderson Silva, professional boxer Tommy Fury, and another MMA icon, Nate Diaz.
In those fights, Paul has reportedly earned just under $85 million, and his influence has also helped sell more than 1 million pay-per-views. He’s also co-promoted major events with Matchroom Boxing, including a show at Madison Square Garden featuring the legendary venue’s first-ever women’s championship bout.
Like Shields’ Paul has also signed with PFL to compete in MMA. PFL co-founder Donn Davis discussed his organization’s partnership with Paul in an article on Boardroom.
“We started talking last spring with Jake,” Davis said. “We saw an alignment of vision of opportunity and partnership for fighters. We’ve talked over the last six months. We said, ‘Jake, a lot of what you’re saying in terms of financial 50-50 partnership is how we wanna launch our pay-per-view division. How we wanna operate our pay-per-view division.’ Why don’t you become the first fighter? Why don’t you become a first signee to the PFL pay-per-view Super Fight Division? And more than that, you can make a lot of money on your own, but why don’t you help make money for other fighters? Why don’t you also promote and create content market using your platforms for this new division?’ And that’s how it came together.”
At just 26 years old, Paul still has tons of runway on his career as a competitor if he wants to continue to compete in the ring or PFL SmartCage. His reach as a personality and promoter is among the most powerful in any sport.
Gervonta Davis is a three-division world champion and a dynamic athlete. He has proven to possess the sort of “it” factor to captivate the attention of an entire generation of boxing fans.
Davis has 7.3 million followers across social media platforms, and his clash with fellow young boxing icon Ryan Garcia registered a reported 1.2 million pay-per-view buys. Davis scored an impressive KO victory in the fight and cemented himself as the apex opponent for all fighters in his weight region.
At 28, Davis has time to grow his popularity and influence even more in the coming years. According to ListenFirst, since September 2022, Davis has been mentioned in 970K posts on X, and 77% of those posts came from users between 18 and 34.
Recent legal troubles have slowed his progression, but when Davis returns to the ring, he’s expected to command the attention of the boxing community, a significant pay-per-view audience, and a handsome payday.
While not as flashy or outspoken as most other fighters on this list, Terence Crawford has some tangible reasons for his inclusion. First and foremost, after his decisive TKO victory over Errol Spence in July, the soon-to-be 36-year-old sits atop every respectable pound-for-pound list in the sport–mine included.
There is significant influence in being the best in the world in a space where notoriety is king. Crawford’s 2.2 million social media followers are somewhat modest for an athlete with brilliance and success. Still, when you consider he’s not the type of guy to take to the various platforms to make statements, you realize his followership is due almost entirely to his work and not his words.
After that, he could be on target for an even bigger bout. There have been whispers of the undisputed welterweight champion moving up two weight classes to challenge Canelo in a legacy bout. I spoke with WBO President Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcárcel via text, and he talked about both Crawford and Canelo.
“Canelo and Crawford are fighters who show up every 10 or 12 years,” Valcárcel said. “I call them boxing endangered species.” A fight between the two icons would elevate both men.
The biggest and best heavyweight in the world will always carry massive influence in the sport. Things go to another level when they are as excellent and polarizing as Tyson Fury. Fury has 4.4 million followers across major social media platforms and has established himself as one of the most consistent draws in the sport.
When Fury met Deontay Wilder in 2020 for their second bout, the former made a reported $25 million base salary before pay-per-view points kicked in, and the fight reportedly generated between 800-850K buys.
Fury stars in the Netflix reality TV show with his family, At Home With the Furys, and he is set to face former UFC Heavyweight champion and current PFL competitor Francis Ngannou in a crossover boxing match in Saudi Arabia on October 28.
Fury is the heavyweight who guarantees the biggest payday for any potential opponent, and there are still potentially significant fights with the likes of Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk.
Beyond the ring, Fury has been open about his struggles with mental health and has become a strong advocate for others with similar struggles.
Despite a pair of losses to Usyk and an avenged defeat at the hands of Andy Ruiz, Anthony Joshua remains a draw in the sport, especially in the heavyweight division.
Joshua has 11.9 million social media followers, which is a testament to the build he has received from his promoter, Hearn, and his world-class skill in the ring. Joshua’s Olympic pedigree and chiseled physique have only augmented the polarization around his career.
Olympic hopeful and European Games gold medalist Delicious Orie lists Joshua as his primary inspiration as he looks ahead to the Paris Games 2024.
Joshua is still one more win away from being in a position to be a part of one of the biggest fights in the history of UK boxing with Fury. A veteran of the boxing business from the network and management side told me, “point blank, Joshua puts butts in seats. It doesn’t matter that he’s had some losses. As long as people in the UK flock to him the way they do, and companies still want to pay him to endorse their products, he’ll have major influence.”
How do you know when a fighter has real influence?
The answer is when their appeal remains even after a high-profile loss. Garcia took the L when he faced Davis in April, but the 25-year-old’s massive popularity had much to do with the fight’s overall appeal.
Garcia also made a reported $30 million for his efforts in the contest.
Garcia still has a more extensive social media following than Davis, with 9.1 million across the various platforms, and he has effectively leveraged the star power of others in and around the sport, like Paul, in training videos like the one below.
Garcia is still a big deal with young fight fans. Users on X have posted about Garcia 968K times over the past year, and the combined 18-34 demographic has authored 78% of those posts.
Despite the loss to Davis, because of the continued interest in his journey and career, Garcia’s return to the ring will be one of the biggest fights of the year when it takes place.
Because of his youth and considerable talent, Garcia is still on track to become the fighter who succeeds Canelo as the top Mexican boxer in the world.
Naoya Inoue’s impact on the boxing world goes well beyond his brilliance in the ring, and quite honestly, there may not be a better fighter on Earth. Inoue is more than pound-for-pound contender, he is a movement for Japanese boxing that is almost single-handedly changing the way people view smaller weight classes and boxers from his country.
“The Monster” is an impressive 25-0 with 22 KOs in his professional career, but perhaps even more notable is his ability to make Japan a destination for potential opponents. Usually, higher-ranking Japanese fighters would need to travel to their opponent’s countries to face the best competition.
After two impressive wins in the United States over Jason Moloney and Michael Dasmarinas in 2020 and 2021, respectively, Inoue has welcomed and stopped four consecutive opponents in championship bouts in Japan.
Inoue’s success, style and scary punching power have not only made him the A-side in just about any potential fight within his weight region. He may be the biggest worldwide draw in the history of Japanese boxing. The 30-year-old is crushing competition and changing the way Japanese boxing is viewed.
With each passing fight, Devin Haney gains popularity, and the target on his back gets bigger.
The 24-year-old, who is 30-0 with 15 KOs, won the undisputed lightweight championship and defended all four belts against George Kambosos Jr. in consecutive fights in 2022.
Haney had to head to Kambosos’ home country of Australia for both fights. The two wins over Kambosos earned Haney the right to defend his titles at home in Las Vegas against Vasiliy Lomachenko.
The home contest against an established veteran like Lomachenko was proof of Haney’s graduation to a higher level as a draw.
After outpointing Lomachenko, Haney moved up to 140 pounds, and his next fight will be for the WBC title in that division against Regis Prograis.
It’s almost certain some of the top competition at 135 pounds will follow Haney up in weight.
Why? Thanks to the guidance of his father and manager, Bill Haney, and Devin’s remarkable in-ring ability, the latter has become one of the biggest names in the lower weight classes. As well as he’s known for boxing ability, Haney has also gained a pop-culture following akin to a music artist.
Haney has amassed just under 3 million followers across social media platforms, and while he is a ways behind Davis and Garcia in this area, his move to 140 pounds could cause a chain reaction.
Haney’s peers may soon be urged to meet him at a higher or even lower weight class in search of a choice scalp and large payday.
Five people I spoke to in preparation for this article called Shakur Stevenson “the most avoided boxer in the world.”
The Olympic Silver medalist from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games has seemed like the boogeyman in every weight class he competes.
His last fight was in April 2023 against Shuichiro Yoshino, and it was a lightweight contest. Stevenson won convincingly via sixth-round TKO.
It appeared Stevenson would be in a position for big things in his next fight at 135 pounds, but his struggles to find an opponent have been discussed by a variety of media outlets.
Despite Stevenson’s undeniable skill level, he sits below the other elite fighters in his weight class when it comes to drawing power. That’s a tough combination, as he may be seen as too tough of a fighter for a payday that won’t be close to the one Garcia and Davis produced.
Stevenson heads into his next fight, a meeting with Edwin De Los Santos, only after another bout with Frank Martin fell apart just days after it was announced.
Whether Stevenson is truly being avoided by the teams of top competition is debatable. However, the perception has given Stevenson a secondary identity that has added to his popularity as much as his spotless 20-0 record and Olympic pedigree.
While Stevenson’s influence is a bit more indirect currently, the needle is pointing up.
Whether it’s wearing the promoter’s hat, putting together the best fights possible, or guiding the careers of past, present, and future stars, this group contains the most influential promoters, managers, and matchmakers in boxing.
Quite simply, Arum is arguably the most legendary promoter in the history of the sport.
His success and longevity are unmatched, and the 91-year-old head of Top Rank Boxing is still going strong. Arum has been a figurehead in guiding the careers of legendary fighters like Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Crawford, and Fury, who he co-promotes.
As the head of Top Rank, Arum is the figurehead of a promotion with a powerful television deal with ESPN, providing top current stars like Fury and others a home for their compelling bouts. Top Rank and ESPN also regularly feature fights with up-and-coming fighters like Zayas and promising young heavyweight Jared Anderson.
In those two fighters, Arum currently promotes arguably the two of the most promising young fighters in the sport (Zayas, 21, the youngest fighter ever signed to Top Rank, and Anderson, 23). Those business relationships guarantee Arum’s continued spot in the most important conversations around the mark for the next decade.
“Bob is Bob,” Top Rank’s long-time matchmaker Brad Goodman said to me in a phone call during the research for this article. “What you see is what you get. At 91, he’s still vibrant and loves being involved and present. He’s in Mexico one week Abu Dhabi the next. That would be a lot of movement for anyone, but Bob does it at his age. He’s truly an amazing individual.”
As the chairman of Matchroom Boxing, Eddie Hearn has successfully taken control of the promotion his father, Barry Hearn, founded in 1982.
Hearn has promoted some of the biggest fights in the UK in boxing history, including Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko in 2017, which took place at Wembley Stadium. In addition to promoting Joshua’s fights, Hearn has also played a significant role in the guidance of Canelo Álvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Oleksandr Usyk, Vasyl Lomachenko, Katie Taylor and others careers.
He is currently the promoter for Joshua, Taylor, Conor Benn, Dmitry Bivol, Alycia Baumgardner, Ebanie Bridges, Juan Francisco Estrada, Regis Prograis, and others. I emailed Hearn about his approach and journey as a promoter.
“Matchroom are the only real global promoter in boxing, and all I have in my mind is growth, growth, growth,” Hearn said. “There are so many territories that we’re looking at to expand into and markets that we feel that we can have a massive impact in with our partners DAZN, and that we are the only promoter-broadcaster partnership that can deliver on a truly global level.”
Boxing is a business, but Hearn also mentioned his connection to it emotionally and its value, having inherited the company’s controls from his legendary father.
“I live and breathe this sport,” Hearn said.
“My father always said that if you can get 1% of the adrenaline a boxer gets when they are fighting, you are a lucky man. That is what I get sat front and center at event we put on but more than that, every day I am able to plot a path for the best stable of fighters in the sport, from the very elite to those making their debuts – and I feel I am both responsible of not only getting them to taste glory, but to secure the financial futures for them and their kids, and that is so satisfying.”
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Despite only participating in the occasional exhibition-style crossover fight, Mayweather’s influence is still felt throughout the sport.
From his co-partnership in the guidance of Gervonta Davis’ career to his influence on fighter’s self-promotion, Money still moves the needle. Why? It’s primarily because of the money he has made.
Boardroom’s Chuck McMahon wrote this ahead of one of Mayweather’s recent exhibition bouts. “Mayweather’s opponent in the Feb. 20 exhibition is yet to be named, but all indications are that he will face YouTuber Reshad “Money Kicks” Belhasa. But really it doesn’t matter who he fights. A matchup with Mayweather is a guaranteed draw no matter who it involves or where it takes place — helipad or huge arena.”
If Mayweather were to express interest in facing any fighter in the sport from 140 to 168 pounds today, there is reason to believe that fight could generate as many, if not more; pay-per-view buys as any other potential fight between active fighters in the sport.
One former executive with HBO that I spoke with called Mayweather one of the hardest-working people he’d ever been around, and it appears the fruits of that labor are his continued influence in boxing.
As the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, Ellerbe is credited with being one of the primary engines behind the successful brand work done for Mayweather and others they co-promote.
More than one person I spoke to mentioned Ellerbe’s poise and fairness as two of his best traits as a promoter.
I talked to Ellerbe via phone about influence in his current role and the work of others who function in a similar capacity.
“I’ve dedicated more than a decade of my life to building that kid [Gervonta Davis]. So when it comes to Gervonta’s promotion, that’s all me and Floyd [Mayweather]. Al [Haymon] is always involved, and his influence speaks for itself, but Floyd and I have worked hard to build Gervonta.”
Under Ellerbe and Mayweather’s guidance, Davis’ career has skyrocketed, and the young lightweight who sits firmly in his prime has become one of the sport’s biggest stars. Before Davis, Ellerbe was a crucial figure in Mayweather’s camp, serving as the man managing much of the promotion’s day-to-day activities.
Thanks to the success of Mayweather and Davis’ career, Mayweather Promotions and its CEO figure to maintain notable influence for the coming years.
If you’ve ever seen Haymon in person or any picture besides the few floating around the web for over a decade, then you’re probably a well-connected person in the boxing industry.
Don’t take the scarce sightings of the long-time manager and founder of Premier Boxing Champions as evidence to support a lack of influence. Few in the sport are more influential than Haymon. He is a four-time Manager of the Year, and his ability to thrive as the founder of PBC and as a manager/advisor has been groundbreaking. It’s also a large part of why Haymon is one of the sport’s most polarizing figures.
Haymon cut his teeth in concert and live entertainment promotion in the 1990s before moving into boxing. His impact on the Sweet Science has been undeniable, and there is no shortage of people in the industry who have spoken of his influence. In addition to winning the Boxing Writers Association of America’s Manager of the Award every year from 2012-2015, Haymon has inspired countless testimonies confirming his influence.
Former business partner Gregory Pai called Haymon “the Steve Jobs of promotion.” Mayweather once said, “Floyd Mayweather Sr. is my dad, and Al Haymon is my father. I learned how to fight from one, but I learned about business from another.”
One of the sport’s top managers, Keith Connolly, called Haymon his mentor when we spoke in preparation for this article. Ellerbe and others regularly referred to Haymon’s impact on the careers of multiple fighters, including Mayweather, Davis, Jermall and Jermell Charlo, Keith Thurman, Adrien Broner, Shawn Porter, Deontay Wilder, Manny Pacquiao and dozens of others.
While many of Haymon’s previous wave of clients have transitioned into the next stage of their lives, he remains a key figure in the sport with a younger crop of fighters like Davis to keep the train moving.
As the head of Queensbury Promotions, the 71-year-old Frank Warren is still a major influencer in boxing. As the co-promoter of Fury along with Arum, Warren has a hand in the dealings of the top heavyweight fighter in the world.
With Fury headed for a high-profile crossover scrap with Ngannou, Warren remains firmly in the boxing mix–especially in the heavyweight division.
While Fury is a global star, some of Warren’s impact and sway lies with the UK television and streaming organizations where he promotes several regional champions and top contenders like David Avanesyan and heavyweights Daniel DuBois and Joe Joyce.
In addition to Tyson Fury, Warren has a promotional deal with Chinese heavyweight and WBO interim champion Zhilei Zhang. Thanks to Zhilei’s colossal KO of Joyce in September, Warren may be able to co-promote a significant heavyweight championship bout between Fury and Zhilei, or the latter and another titleholder.
Oscar De La Hoya
Toward the end of his Hall-of-Fame in-ring career, De La Hoya founded Golden Boy Promotions, becoming the first Spanish-speaking fighter to own a boxing promotion.
De La Hoya’s ability to lock onto and promote many top Mexican fighters immediately made him a formidable promoter with a roster that included Canelo, Garcia, Jaime Munguia, and others.
While De La Hoya doesn’t handle the day-to-day running of the promotion, his presence and moniker are still significant. The Golden Boy tag speaks to legitimacy for prospects, especially those of Mexican descent. Golden Boy promotes the son of one of De La Hoya’s longtime rivals, Shane Mosley, Vergil Ortiz Jr., and Gilberto Ramirez.
Despite ups and downs over the past decade with some of the top fighters from the GBP roster, De La Hoya remains one of the impacting presences in boxing. This recent message on X from De La Hoya drew more than 250,000 impressions.
Any fighter reading this tweet. If you are on top and are a champion, fight more than 2 times a year. Your window to become a legend or make money is closing by the day. Stay in the gym and be ready, don’t train to get ready. Boxing is your life so make it your life.
— Oscar De La Hoya (@OscarDeLaHoya) September 20, 2023
“I think people underestimate Oscar and love to hate on him,” said 2022 Manager of the Year, Peter Kahn. “He is a lot more impactful and knowledgeable than most people realize. He talked the talk and walked the walk as a fighter. He was the first real crossover superstar in boxing. He has 30 solid years of experience as an elite fighter and top promoter. What he has done as a fighter and promoter should be respected.”
Gomez serves as the President of Golden Boy Promotions, and he handles the day-to-day operations of the promotion. In his role, he affects most of the major moves made by the promotion.
A childhood friend of De La Hoya, Gomez has earned his spot on this list, developing a reputation as a hard-working executive and elevating to his current role with GBP. Gomez has actively guided Garcia, Ortiz, and Munguia’s career.
Those three are easily the fighters on GBP’s roster with the most substantial drawing power and are at the crux of the promotion’s deal with DAZN.
While not as high-profile as De La Hoya, Gomez was called “the engine that makes GBP go” by a member of boxing media and “one of the most underrated presences in the sport.
“Without Eric, Golden Boy would’ve been in trouble when Canelo left [in 2020], but Gomez really helped right the ship.”
After decades in the sport “cutting his teeth” with Don King Productions during the Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Felix Trinidad era, Peter Kahn has established himself as one of the sport’s most influential managers in the sport.
The 2022 BWAA Manager of the Year Award followed a stellar year with more impact in 2023. Kahn continued to guide the career of Zayas (a young contender often compared to his legendary countryman, Trinidad) while working behind the scenes with various others in the industry.
The 21-year-old Zayas not only improved to 17-0 with a dominant win over Robert Valenzuela on Sept. 15 but also joined Teofimo Lopez as the only two fighters currently holding endorsement deals with Bud Light.
Kahn’s leadership led to two title fights for Kambosos Jr. vs. Haney, and he’s also been instrumental in the rise of former undisputed super middleweight champion Franchon Crews-Dezurn, whom he has set up for a title shot against Shadasia Green–despite losing her titles to Savannah Marshall in July.
I spoke to long-time Top Rank matchmaker Brad Goodman about Kahn, and he said, “Peter’s track record speaks for itself. He gets top-notch guys to the next level. Look at what he’s done with Xander Zayas and Kambosos. The proof is there.”
Another 30-year veteran in the boxing industry spoke to Kahn’s behind-the-scenes impact. “He [Kahn] is the ultimate connector. Peter has a strong voice behind the scenes and is in many conversations and business dealings with the major promoters brokering sponsorship deals through his own marketing agency.”
As Zayas continues to develop and emerge as a top contender in all four major governing bodies rankings, and as Kahn identifies and signs new talent to join a stable that already includes Zayas, Charlie Sheehy, Henry LeBron, and another top Puerto Rican prospect in Yankiel Rivera, he’ll continue to elevate his stable of fighters and reach in the sport.
The 2019 Manager of the Year award winner has learned well from those who have brought him along in the business.
“My approach to managing has always been geared towards changing a fighter’s life,” Connolly told me via text.
“There have been so many instances throughout boxing history where the fighter has been taken advantage of and left in ruins at the end of their career, so there’s a great satisfaction you get in guiding their career if it’s protecting them, negotiating for them or pushing them towards the promoter that fits best for them. It’s all about the fighter. If you put their interests above your own good things usually happen. I think my management style is a mesh between the advice I got early on from my dad and the stories he would tell me about the business side of boxing and what I learned firsthand from so many years of working closely with my mentor Al Haymon, who I consider the best boxing manager in the history of the sport.”
Connolly currently has Edgar Berlanga, women’s junior lightweight champion Alycia Baumgardner, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, and former middleweight titlist Daniel Jacobs as clients.
Connolly’s years of experience and connections to fighters like Berlanga and Baumgardner, as well as promising youngsters like Richardson Hitchins, Marc Castro and Khalil Coe maintains a presence among the keeps him in an excellent position to add more clients and to remain in the mix of some essential fights soon.
Despite being nominated for Manager of the Year multiple times by the BWAA, Rick Mirigian has yet to get over the hump with the voters.
However, his peers and others around the sport regularly vouched for his work ethic, fighter-first approach, and effectiveness as a manager who wears multiple hats.
“He never stops this guy,” Arum said during an interview with The Fighter’s Voice. “I’ve never seen a guy work around the clock the way Rick [Mirigian] does. He’s very innovative.”
“I’m different because I have put on entire shows for my guys from top to bottom to create opportunity and relevance,” Mirigian told me via text. “I have done 15 arena shows that average 12,000 to 15,000 people as well as 10 smaller ones between 5000 and 8000 people.”
Mirigian has also helped to establish endorsement deals for his fighters with a variety of companies. He’s one of two managers mentioned as one of the top people in his role by every promoter I spoke to in preparation for this article.
Mirigian’s current client list includes former world champion Jose Ramirez, undefeated Mexican star Vergil Ortiz, likely title-challenger Arnold Barboza, Joseph Diaz Jr., and Jose Zepeda.
Historically, Prince has maintained a formidable stock of fighters (Andre Ward, Winky Wright, Roy Jones Jr., Diego Corrales, Mark Johnson, Hasim Rahman, and others).
The current landscape is the same. Prince’s current stable, which includes Jared Anderson (a promising 24-year-old heavyweight) and Shakur Stevenson, might be the best crop the veteran manager has ever had at one time. Prince’s understanding of the business and ability to sign elite talent is noteworthy.
One manager said, “he might literally have the future of the heavyweight [Anderson] and welterweight division [Stevenson] under his charge.”
Anderson is still a few fights away from fighting for a title, and Stevenson might be the most avoided boxer in the sport, but in due time, they could be Prince’s next superstars.
The recent International Boxing Hall-of-Fame inductee has worked with Top Rank as a matchmaker for over 40 years. To a man, everyone I spoke to had tons of respect for what Goodman has accomplished in his career.
He is credited with developing north of 50 world champions during his time with Top Rank.
Goodman cites his mentor and long-time Top Rank manager Bruce Trampler for teaching him everything he’s learned about boxing and matchmaking. One person I spoke to said, “No one knows boxing better than him [Goodman].”
When you consider Goodman is still leaned on heavily to scout professionals and amateurs for Top Rank and to put together the best cards amongst the fighters in that stable, it’s easy to see the influence he continues to carry throughout the sport.
Fighters fight, managers manage, and promoters make their impact, pushing fights and stars to millions. Trainers must get the best out of their fighters while knowing what makes them tick and helping them prepare for opponents.
The following three trainers have the most influence and sway in their current roles.
Having gone from world champion to one of the elite trainers in the sport, Garcia has earned a level of respect few people in the industry attain.
The 2011 Trainer of the Year still holds a spot among the upper-echelon pros in his craft. When I spoke with dozens of professionals, Garcia’s name was consistently mentioned as one of the best trainers in boxing.
Garcia’s reputation as a boxing trainer has even reached mixed martial artists like Tony Ferguson, who have hired him to train them in the sweet science.
While he isn’t currently training one of the top champions in the sport after having split with Vergil Ortiz, Garcia has established an imprint in Oxnard, California, and beyond with his boxing academy.
I asked one boxing writer about the most influential trainers in the sport, and he said, “well you have to start off with Derrick James. He’s completely in the mix right now.”
It could be argued that no trainer in the sport has a more impressive crop of top-end stars than James. He is currently training Anthony Joshua, Errol Spence, Jermell Charlo, and Ryan Garcia, which has him in the corner of two fighters on this list. That stable also has Canelo’s next opponent (Charlo) and Crawford’s most recent foe (Spence).
Despite winning The Ring’s Trainer of the Year award in 2017 and being named Sports Illustrated’s Trainer of the Year in 2020, the 51-year-old James is seemingly in his prime now.
With a colossal fight scheduled against Canelo for Charlo on Sept. 30, a potential rematch for Spence with Crawford later this year, the likely return of Garcia, and another scrap for Joshua, James’ name should remain at the forefront of boxing discussions through 2023.
If there is a trainer with a better class of elite fighters in their training stable than James, it is Brian McIntyre.
Bo-Mac currently trains the pound-for-pound king Crawford and Shakur Stevenson. Crawford is a fighter’s fighter, and Bo-Mac has worked effectively with him to help guide him to his current spot as an all-time great. The same level of work is in motion with Stevenson, who looks to be on track for a similarly successful career.
When you also consider the work Bo-Mac did in just four weeks with Chris Eubank Jr. ahead of his rematch with Liam Smith and what he’s doing with another fast-rising star in Keyshawn Davis, there is no reason to believe the veteran trainer won’t continue to be in the mix of the most influential trainers in boxing.
The major networks that broadcast or stream the sport and the governing bodies that control rankings and championships are often the target of rants from the boxing community.
While there is often some validity to the arguments raised, there is no doubting the influence of the people in charge.
Without networks, the millions of boxing fans worldwide won’t have access to the sport and its stars. Likewise, the governing bodies often validate fighters with the rankings and championships they can attach.
The next portion of the list highlights those who pull the strings for the networks and governing bodies.
Showtime Boxing has been a significant player in the sport for decades, and Espinoza has been in charge since 2011.
Espinoza has overseen the sport’s rise in popularity on the cable network. Espinoza’s most significant move early in his tenure was signing Mayweather to an exclusive deal in 2012. This deal helped to establish a relationship with the sport’s top draw and other fighters advised or managed by Haymon.
Espinoza’s commitment to boxing as a primary driver for Showtime has led to massive pay-per-view events featuring Mayweather, including the crossover bout with former UFC champion Conor McGregor.
That bout helped to set the stage for the other lucrative, high-grossing crossover fights we’ve seen between boxers and athletes from other combat sports in the last seven years.
In addition to working with Mayweather, Espinoza has also provided a platform for other stars like Davis and Adrien Broner. Espinoza currently serves as the President of Showtime Sports, which takes his influence beyond boxing.
DAZN’s partnership with Matchroom Boxing has been vital in bringing fighters signed with the UK-based promoter to a worldwide audience.
Markowski, the CEO of DAZN North American, receives much credit for his work and vision to establish the organization as one of the most prominent players amongst networks/streaming services that carry boxing content. Matchroom’s Hearn spoke glowingly about Markowski’s efforts in their partnership.
“When we made the decision to exclusively team up with DAZN as our global broadcaster, the key for Matchroom was having a partner that shares our vision, our insatiable appetite for growth and passion to stage boxing events that make the viewers at home think: “I wish I was there,” Hearn said via email.
“Joe has guided DAZN to being a market leader in broadcasting in so many territories, and it’s a testament to his hard work and vision that DAZN and Matchroom are so closely knit and aligned with what we want to achieve together. To find a broadcast partner than can meet our adventurous goals is not easy, but in Joe and DAZN, that’s exactly what we have.”
Markowski’s vision has proven to go beyond promoting traditional boxing events with top contenders. He has recognized and helped DAZN capitalize on the popularity of celebrities-turned-fighters like Paul and fellow YouTube sensation KSI.
David Dinkins Jr.
Storytelling is a major piece of the pie for gaining the buy-in from boxing fans, and few are more respected than Showtime’s David Dinkins Jr.
The son of former New York City Mayor David Dinkins Sr. established a different path to prominence. Dinkins is the executive producer of Showtime Sports, and fans will again see his vision for storytelling in boxing on September 30 for the Canelo-Charlo bout.
Dinkins joined Showtime in 1987, and over that time, he has produced more than 600 championship bouts per Showtime. He produced the two most-watched pay-per-view events in history (Mayweather-Pacquiao and Mayweather-McGregor).
The upcoming Canelo-Charlo bout will be Dinkins’ next stage for production and boxing storytelling.
“David is a pioneer who has been an executive producer for a while,” Showtime’s Custer said via phone. “He has opened the door for so many people of color. When it comes to producing a boxing broadcast best or producing a major sports event, no one does it better than David. Sometimes, I work with him, and I look over and say, ‘Just lead me, brother.”
Kenny has two massive areas of focus with ESPN.
He is the Vice President of Programming and Acquisitions and head of pro basketball and combat sports. Under the combat sports umbrella, Kenny is responsible for the programming of Top Rank Boxing’s shows on ESPN and thus has a direct hand on boxing-themed content the network’s viewers see.
Kenny has helped ESPN collaborate with other networks and entities like DAZN, Fox Sports, and MVP for huge crossover events like the Jake Paul vs. Nate Diaz bout in August and the Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury clash in 2020.
Kenny offered these words in an article on ESPN Front Row just before the Wilder-Fury clash: “Sports media companies can be as competitive as the athletes they cover — which benefits fans with coverage and approaches that evolve, improve and innovate. It’s long been known how competitive boxing promoters can be. Those combine to make the backstory to tomorrow’s main event even more remarkable. Two promoters and two media companies, collaborating in effective and unprecedented ways to bring fans, arguably, the most anticipated heavyweight title fight in a generation.”
World titles are notable, but a certain mystique has long gone with the green one.
The green world title comes from the World Boxing Council (WBC), and Jose Sulaimán, the son of the legendary Jose Sulaimán, is president. As the head of the WBC, Sulaimán has impacted the careers of nearly every superstar in boxing since he took the post in 2014.
That tenure crosses with Canelo, Mayweather, Fury, Bernard Hopkins, Andre Ward, Gennady Golovkin, Manny Pacquiao, Crawford, Haney, Stevenson, and others.
Sulaimán is arguably the most accessible head of one of boxing’s major governing bodies, regularly interviewing various media members. His willingness to discuss issues concerning rankings champion status and more often provide content for further discussion amongst the boxing community and across social media.
Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcárcel
Serving as the World Boxing Organization president since 1996, Francisco Valcárcel, aka Paco, has been as active as any head of a governing body.
He is the only Puerto Rican head of a governing body in boxing.
Beyond representing his heritage for the Puerto Rican-based organization, Valcárcel has championed the concept of one world champion per weight class, and he has been especially outspoken against other governing bodies recognizing multiple world titles within the same division.
Valcárcel’s single-champion concepts have become a significant part of his legacy as the head of the WBO.
Like most other sports and entertainment industries, much of the content fans access online via social media.
The conversations, interviews, and insight power the sport in between high-profile fights and often add fuel to the hype machines.
While stats aren’t as big of a part of the stories in boxing as in other sports, the numbers and details play a significant role before and after an event as fans, media, and even professionals attempt to make heads or tails of the most recent happenings.
Lastly, the video game piece has been missing from the boxing space for a while, but a recent title has rekindled some of the spark for the sport in the booming gaming industry.
The following men have established themselves as influential figures in one of the categories above.
Villegas is the founder and primary voice of Fight Hub TV, the boxing YouTube channel with the largest subscribership (1.56 million) on the platform.
It was founded in 2009, and its 19,000 videos have accumulated over 1.2 billion views since its launch.
While Villegas has branched out to cover MMA, boxing remains the bread and butter of the channel, delivering multiple videos daily featuring the top stars in the sport.
If you regularly watch boxing content on YouTube, it’s almost impossible to imagine you haven’t taken in one of Villegas’ videos.
Very similar to Villegas, Thompson’s Fight Hype is narrowly the second-largest boxing-themed YouTube channel in the world (1.55 million subscribers).
Fight Hype was established in 2007 and was the only channel with regular exclusive Mayweather content.
Thanks to gritty, raw content that informs but sometimes escapes the more prominent sports outlets covering boxing, Fight Hype has maintained the momentum it gained during Mayweather’s in-ring popularity.
Thompson’s channel continues to produce consistent content for fight fans and remains a mainstay in the relevant boxing social media space.
John and Marina Sheppard
Presence is important, it’s especially the case when competitors in the space are sparse.
If you’re even a mildly serious boxing fan, there’s a great chance you’ve been on BoxRec.com to learn about a fighter, fact-check, or settle an argument. Likewise, some boxing managers and promoters regularly use the website as a reference point for fighters and potential opponents.
Sheppard and his wife, Marina, created and run the site. While you will seldom see an interview with the Sheppards, and some boxing insiders may dispute the details and algorithm, their site remains the most utilized source of boxing information and history.
It had been 12 years since EA released Fight Night Champion, the last AAA boxing video game title when Steel City Interactive dropped Undisputed on Steam Early Access in January.
Habib is the head of the studio, and the developer’s organization has been able to sign licensing deals with most of the major stars in the sport (Canelo, Fury, Crawford, Garcia, Lomachenko, Wilder, Usyk, and others) along with lesser-known fighters and an impressive group of legends (Muhammad Ali, Roy Jones Jr., Sugar Ray Leonard and more).
The game has yet to have an official release date for consoles like PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, but according to Habib and others associated with the project, that is coming down the road.
Habib’s passion for boxing and work to establish partnerships with publisher PLAION, BoxRec, CompuBox, and others has been vital in the growth of this one-time small independent project into an upcoming AAA release.
Who landed the most punches in the fight?
That’s one of the most common questions pondered after a close fight or even during a bout. The answer to that question most often comes from CompuBox, which began in 1985 and is used to tabulate the number of punches landed in a fight.
Canobbio, who has been a part of the punch-counting concept since its inception, has run the company since 2002. His system is used by most of the major networks that broadcast or stream boxing content.
Having evolved from what it was in the early stages, CompuBox offers deeper punch analysis, moving closer to becoming the first source for advanced metrics in the sport.
While the punches landed can’t be relied upon to tell the story of a fight in a vacuum, there is no doubting the significance of the statistics in the conversation around a fight with fans.
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