While sitting at my desk this past Friday, December 2, the day Robert Guerrero, our #2 ranked Featherweight in the World was to fight, I received a notice from the California State Athletic Commission that Robert had filed for Arbitration to terminate our promotional agreement.
I've been with Robert since he was 18 years old and promoted his first professional bout in 2001. I've never had a bad word with Robert and believed that with his devotion to God he would surely be a fighter never to be influenced by the dark side.
To the boxing insider, all one needs to know is Shelly Finkel recently came into Robert's business life. Based on history, they can figure out what happened thereafter.
Once Finkel "Sweet Talked" his way in with Robert, I suspected his next step would be to get Robert to go against our promotional relationship so he could insert his own team for total control. When Finkel first got involved with Robert, he called me with his "Sweet Talking" ways and said "let's work together." Next thing I knew, he was stabbing me in the back, using Robert as his shield. I've had enough with this "Sweet Talking" manipulator. If he continues to interefere with any future relationships I have with fighters, he can expect a strong response.
The truth always is a good elixir.
In my opinion, Finkel has personally mishandled, misguided, and more importantly, misinformed unsuspecting fighters. He comforts, soothes, tells only some of the facts, and then, before you know it, the fighter loses (in more ways than one). I've seen it through the years with Mike Tyson, the Klitschko brothers, and now Robert. Oh, there are plenty more, but these are the four I've had direct commercial dealings.
I told Tyson after a short time of being involved with him that, if Finkel (his "Sweet Talking" adviser) was the leader, I was gone after our contractual obligations expired. I refused to go to England for the Julius Francis bout or to Scotland for the Lou Savarese bout. Believing decisions being made were not in Tyson's best interests, I walked away despite the worldwide attention associated with the biggest act in show business would bring. I could sense what seemed to me to be the misconduct by Finkel, and refused to be a part of it. It was destined to fail despite Tyson's greatness.
Finkel's involvement with Tyson was a disaster from the start. From the New Jersey and Nevada relicensing, to the Maryland deal to have Mike walk away without being incarcerated and personal bankruptcy, all backfired on the "Sweet Talking" man leading the charge, completely ignoring our input. It was a sad chain of events. This once great and talented superstar allowed Finkel to sway him into making one wrong decision after another, which ultimately ended his career with the no-name and no-win Danny Williams bout, and probably the worst decision ever made in boxing history, the Kevin McBride bout.
With the Klitschko brothers on top of boxing only a few short years ago (and the darlings of HBO, the media and many fans), Finkel was brought in as an adviser. Almost immediately, the Klitschkos' reputation and stature were diminished. Today we have one retired former champion who never reached his full marquee value and another former Heavyweight Champion who has lost his luster. Would one be wrong in concluding that Finkel's misguided and self-serving activities once again ended up taking leverage and stardom from marquee fighters?
Now comes Robert Guerrero. Robert is a nice young man with a solid family foundation and a strong belief in God. Other than injuries keeping him inactive for recent parts of his career, his stature and future could not have been any brighter.
Why file for arbitration? He didn't assert a single breach of contract by our company in his filing to free himself of our contract. I've seen it too many times in my years in the business. Mr. "Sweet Talking" Finkel comes in after a fighter's career is in full gear and ready to make some real money, infects the fighter's thinking, makes changes to take control and presto, the fighter loses a fight and his stature.
Finkel has worked with Robert for a whopping five months and the results speak for themselves. Robert showed he didn't have his mind on boxing Friday night which is understandable. I'm sure the premeditated workings behind the scenes had an impact on his performance. But Finkel has no problem rolling the dice. If his fighter wins, great; if not, lets see who he can latch onto next with his "Sweet Talking" ways.
Prior to Friday's result, we had Robert on the verge of prime-time premium cable network fights with the next step being the elite level. Finkel had his own plan. He wanted to control Robert's career and needed Robert to file a claim against us to accomplish his goal. Finkel's agenda with Robert mirrored that of Tyson and the Klitschkos, namely "Sweet Talking" his way into an already successful situation, telling the fighter everything he wants to hear, all the while serving his own agenda.
Finkel's nefarious and sometimes suspicious behavior has not been limited to fighters. Back in 1998, testifying in front of our Congress, he criticized "the unscrupulous ways that boxing promoters enter into agreements with fighters." He vowed to assist Congress "to end the exploitation of these young athletes" by such sleazy businessmen. How nice of him.
Much to the fighters' (and presumably Congress') dismay, Finkel's assistance took the form of exactly what he claimed he was trying to eradicate: unscrupulous, unethical and greedy businessmen.
A Hall of Fame Promoter accused Finkel of ruining Mike Tyson's career and said of Finkel, "Three (sic) words define his career: Treachery, duplicity, deceitfulness and cowardice." I couldn't have said it better, even using a fifth word.
Fighters need to know the facts and they need to know that the media and government will not tolerate this type of behavior going undisclosed any longer. Ron Borges of the Boston Globe referred to Finkel as Klitschko's "slippery manager" and Newark Star-Ledger columnist Jerry Izenberg referred to him as "Honest Shelly (he never stole a boxcar) Finkel" and added "that greed does have limits" in assessing the actions of Finkel.
It has been widely reported that investigations of misconduct in boxing are currently taking place. I believe it would be quite interesting if someone took a long look at the conduct of Shelly Finkel. Perhaps they would find nothing illegal. Then again, maybe not.
They will certainly be in for some "Sweet Talking." Agreed!