The Boxing Esq. Podcast, Ep. 49: Manager/attorney Mike Borao
The Ring is proud to present “The Boxing Esq. Podcast with Kurt Emhoff”. Emhoff, an attorney based in New York City, is a top boxing manager who has represented over 10 world champions in his 20-plus years in the sport.
On this episode, Emhoff is joined by one of the foremost attorneys and managers in the game – Mike Borao. They spoke about two heavyweights who Mike is involved with who scored big wins in the last few months – Charles Martin and Robert Helenius. They also talked about future plans for a few of Mike’s other fighters including middleweight Matt Korobov and heavyweight Frank Sanchez. They further spoke about Mike’s background and participation in Toughman contests and how he met and came to represent his first major fighter, heavyweight Jameel McCline.
Additionally, they discuss what a typical day in the life of a boxing manager is like.
Below are a few excerpts from the interview:
On the status of Charles Martin, who won his IBF eliminator over Gerald Washington by TKO6 on the Wilder-Fury II undercard:
“My understanding is now that we’re number two (in the IBF ratings), we’re going to sit here for a minute. Because you know, who knows what can happen, this is boxing. I’ve seen the craziest things happen. You probably already know (Kubrat) Pulev has been mandatory twice before. Excuse me once with (Wladimir) Klitschko and once with Joshua. And for whatever reason, I think he was injured, I can’t remember. So twice he was in the mandatory position and for whatever reason, the fight didn’t happen. So if that were to occur again, I think they move on to the next available guy and that would be Charles.
Alternatively, if Joshua decided, you know what, I’m not going to face Pulev, I’m going to go ahead and fight (Aleksandr) Usyk. Or you know what, I made a deal to fight Tyson Fury or whatever, Klitschko coming out of retirement. I don’t know, I’m just getting crazy. But anything, if for whatever reason Joshua doesn’t fight Pulev, well then you know, I suppose it would be Martin and (Czar) Glazkov all over again where the number one, Pulev, would fight the number two, Martin, for the vacant title. So, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. And, hopefully, we get a little lucky again and get into a situation where maybe we’re fighting for Pulev for a vacant or whatever, but we’re going to have to wait and see. “
On the status of Robert Helenius – who upset top contender Adam Kownacki in a WBA eliminator in March 2020:
“I spoke to the WBA just before the fight with Kownacki and I asked how that would work. The WBA gave the same answer, both before and after the fight and that was that look – just because you win or if you win tonight, it’s not a foregone conclusion (that Helenius will be the WBA mandatory). It’s still going to have to go for a vote in front of the board members.
But, my understanding is that the vote would be between the “champions,” which is (Manuel) Charr (WBA “World” Champion), Trevor Bryan (WBA “Interim” Champion), and Robert Helenius (WBA “Gold” Champion). Now, just sort of sitting here and thinking logically and reasonably, Charr hasn’t fought in three years. Bryan hasn’t fought in two years and Robert just knocked out the universally recognized, pretty much, number one contender, Adam Kownacki, who’s 20-0 and one of the most highly regarded guys rated across the board. So, if you’re voting on that, I mean I ask you, would you vote for one of two guys that haven’t fought in two or three years respectively and have never beaten anyone near the caliber of Adam Kownacki? Or would you vote for Robert Helenius?
So when that time comes, I think the WBA is going to do the right thing and they’re going to vote for Robert to get the opportunity to fight the super champion, which is Joshua. First, they’ve got to do, I suppose the IBF then comes to WBO and then comes to WBA. So no matter what, it’s probably going to be a bit of a wait and Robert will probably get a fight before that. But, again, you just never know in boxing. He could end up fighting (Joshua) next.
You look at the history and Robert’s had some very impressive wins over guys like Sam Peter, Lamon Brewster, Serhei Liakhovich, that’s three former world champions right there and he’s got the win over Kownacki. He took the fight against Dillian White on like 10 days notice or something ridiculous and he went 12 rounds with the guy, despite taking the fight on incredibly short notice. There’s no question he’s one of the top fighters in the world. I think styles make fights and no one gave him a prayer against Kownacki. Except for myself, his manager Marcus and the rest of his team, his coach, and it probably would be the same going into a Joshua fight. But styles make fights. Kownacki has one of the greatest chins in boxing. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. And you know what would happen if (Robert) hit Joshua on the chin. I think he’d get a similar result that he got with Kownacki, especially if he was as prepared as he was for the Kownacki fight. So, that’s an interesting fight to me. To me, anyone who fights Joshua, you’ve got a great shot and that was what was so much fun about having those guys as champion, with Joshua still as champion. But when you have guys like Wilder that are incredible offensive machines and still have some vulnerability they make for the greatest fights. They can beat anyone but they can also lose it. So hopefully Robert gets that opportunity. I think he will, but hopefully sooner rather than later.”
On how he hooked up with Frank Sanchez and what’s next for Frank:
“Well, Frank’s an interesting story. He actually called me. He wanted to hire me as a lawyer because he was having some issues, some contractual issues. In the very end he ended up buying out of his original agreement and we ended up structuring something. So, we immediately got him on, he did back to back, I think it was Fox and Showtime. He fought (Jack) Mulawayi on short notice on Showtime. He took it on like a week’s notice and ended up going 10 rounds. Most recently, I think it was the last show PBC did before going dark, he fought Joey Dawejko on regular Fox. And he pitched a shutout. And you know, Joey doesn’t look like a world-beater. He’s a lot like Andy Ruiz. But people in boxing know that he can fight and he pitched a 10-0 shut out against Joey. You look at Joey’s history, he goes six to four in rounds against real guys like (Sergey) Kuzmin, (Amir) Mansour.
So, where some people look at that and say, Oh, he couldn’t knock out Dawejko. Well, not many people can. The only guy that has is Charles Martin. And, he’s gone the distance and in very tough fights with everybody. So I think that was a big positive for Frank to shut Dawejko who couldn’t do anything in the fight. And I think, most recently (Frank)’s called out Mike Hunter and Joe Parker and I’m waiting for Eddie (Hearn). Hopefully, he’ll make us an offer on one of the two. Because they couldn’t make a deal with (Junior) Fa. He’s at number six, we’re at number 10 (in the WBO) and hopefully, we can get that one done because he’s one of these Cuban guys that he’ll outbox anybody in the world, anybody. And we’ll see. Hopefully, we get him in soon, he’s chomping at the bit. He’s so desperate to fight one of the top guys and prove what he is. He’s asked for every name, Ruiz, Parker, Usyk. Hopefully, Usyk picks up a vacated belt in the WBO and we’re right there and we can get in there with Usyk, so we’ll wait and see. But I’m very excited about Frank.”
On what a typical day in the life of a boxing manager is like:
“I mean ‘a day in the life’ is interviews like these nonstop, setting up, especially now during this quiet time, if you notice all my guys are pretty prominently featured in the media and that’s not by accident. Assuming we’re not in this period that we’re in now where we’re at home and under lockdown and no fights are going on. Assuming a regular, normal, ordinary day. I mean, you know what this business is. It’s not an easy business. The margins are very small. Only the 1% or 2% really make money. So if you’re not in that 1% or 2%, if you’re not on the big networks on Fox, on DAZN, on Showtime, on ESPN, it’s very tough. It’s very tough to earn a living. But you know, the 1% and 2% earn a very good living. So, hopefully, the sport can find a way to flatten that curve and make it a little more fair.”