One of the problems with choosing a list of the most powerful and/or influential persons in a given entity changes depending upon the viewpoint.
In boxing, it's difficult because there are so many layers to the sport's success. There's the in-ring competition, there's the in-arena atmosphere, there's the television production, the marketing, the publicity, the sponsorships and many other areas that ultimately impact the final product presented to the fan.
We've compiled a most powerful/influential list in boxing for Yahoo Sports since 2008. More than ever, when we've compiled this list we've thought of the fans. Any person we've considered for inclusion, we ask two questions: How did this person impact what the fan watched this year, and how successful was he/she in doing the job.
Some of the names are familiar; many others are not. But all of them played a significant role in the final product that was presented to the fans in 2013.
And so, with that, here are the choices, in descending order, of the 25 most powerful/influential people in boxing in 2013:
25. Fred Sternburg, president, Sternburg Communications – Sternburg is Manny Pacquiao's personal publicist and handles event publicity for Top Rank. He is clever, thoughtful and a tireless worker.
24. Al Bernstein, broadcaster, Showtime & The Boxing Channel – A 2013 Hall of Fame inductee, Bernstein is a tireless advocate for the sport who has become more outspoken against those who bash boxing. He's easy to listen to, is always fair and has an increasing audience thanks to Showtime's growth.
23. Edmund Chu and Sheng Li, managers, SECA Ltd. – SECA manages two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming. Without Shiming, Top Rank would never have been able to put fights in Macau, China. Chu and Li have great contacts in China and understand the value of marketing and promotion for their fighters.
22. Kelly Swanson, president, Swanson Communications – Swanson is the personal publicist for Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Bernard Hopkins, and does publicity for Golden Boy fights. She was largely responsible for pulling off the sensational promotion for the fight between Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez.
21. Mark Taffet, senior vice president, HBO Sports – Taffet is best known for his role in running HBO's pay-per-view fights, but with Mayweather leaving, HBO only had two PPV bouts in 2013. But Taffet is responsible for the tone and tenor of much of HBO's shoulder program, such as "Faceoff," which helps increase boxer visibility.
20. Brad Goodman, matchmaker, Top Rank – The joke about Goodman is that he doesn't know who the vice president of the U.S. is, but he knows the best four-round fighters in Belize.
19. Bruce Trampler, matchmaker, Top Rank – Trampler is the gold standard for matchmakers and is justifiably in the Hall of Fame. Many great fighters of the modern era, including Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr., owe much to Trampler for the way he matched them on the way up.
18. Eric Gomez, matchmaker, Golden Boy Promotions – Gomez is the man who makes the majority of the fights fans see on Showtime. He knows how to put together fighters who will bring out the best in each other and that makes great television.
17. Egis Klimas, manager – Klimas manages WBO light heavyweight champon Sergey Kovalev and IBF featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich, but his true star is Vasyl Lomachenko, the two-time gold medalist and superstar in the making. Klimas has a lot of talent up and down his roster. He's already a big player and will increase in scope soon.
16. Jim Lampley, broadcaster, HBO Sports – Lampley is HBO's long-time play-by-play man, and recently added a show about boxing, "The Fight Game," to his work. Lampley is the most-heard announcer and thus can shape the way fans see the fights. His show has much potential, but needs to be knocked up a few levels and Lampley has to abandon the reliance on the same few interview subjects to make the show more compelling and worthwhile.
15. James Prince, manager – Prince is the manager of a number of fighters, including Andre Ward. Prefers to stay out of the limelight, but is effective and does well for his clients.
14. Michael Koncz, manager – Koncz is Manny Pacquiao's chief adviser, and saw one of his long-time dreams come true in November when Top Rank promoted a Pacquiao pay-per-view in China.
13. Cameron Dunkin, manager – Dunkin has a keen eye for talent and a deep crew, topped by Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios.
12. Manny Pacquiao, boxer – Pacquiao's influence in the business is diminishing, as he isn't quite the star he once was, but he remains a powerful figure and you can bet that Top Rank and HBO executives jump when he speaks.
11. Ed Tracy, CEO, Sands China – Tracy gave the go-ahead to spend significant money with Top Rank to bring boxing to China. The result was three shows in 2013, culminating with a Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view bout in November. There will be regular fights in Sands China casinos in 2014 and beyond and Tracy is at the forefront of it.
10. Leonard Ellerbe, CEO, Mayweather Promotions – Ellerbe has the confidence and respect of Floyd Mayweather, and that association alone gives him great sway in the industry. Ellerbe is thoughtful and deliberate in his dealings, but is willing to think outside the box to expand Mayweather's brand.
9. Bob Arum, chairman/CEO, Top Rank – Arum is keenly involved in Top Rank's affairs at the ripe old age of 82. He's taken a special interest in expanding Top Rank's brand internationally and has OK'd the signings of Olympic gold medalists from China, Lithuania, Russia and Japan and a silver medalist from Brazil.
8. Peter Nelson, director of programming, HBO Sports – Nelson is like a 21st century Lou DiBella (without the zaniness) in that he is a Harvard graduate with a facile mind, a keen understanding of the boxing business and a feel for what works on television. He's now HBO's go-to guy in terms of buying fights, and he's done a great job of getting the company out from under some of the draconian deals they were under in the past that forced HBO to broadcast fighters it did not want to show.
7. Ken Hershman, president, HBO Sports – HBO has the largest budget for boxing of any television executive, and his network has the largest audience. Those factors give him great power and influence in the industry. Hershman is not personally dynamic and isn't one to get out and promote HBO's fights or other boxing offers. As a result HBO's non-Top Rank fights are often underpublicized. But he has kept HBO in a leadership spot in terms of ratings and the network has brought in new, young talent.
6. Leslie Moonves, chairman/CEO, CBS Corporation – Moonves was reportedly irate when Hershman bolted Showtime to become president of HBO Sports. He then green-lighted budget increases for Showtime, OK'd the move to swipe Floyd Mayweather and has been open to having boxing on CBS.
5. Todd duBoef, president, Top Rank – For years, Top Rank was the undisputed No. 1 promoter. It is now No. 2 behind Golden Boy, but Top Rank remains a major influence and power broker in the sport. DuBoef has embraced the digital age and dramatically improved Top Rank's offerings. He's made vast improvements to the product's presentation in-arena, and he's worked diligently to make boxing appealing to advertisers.
4. Richard Schaefer, CEO, Golden Boy Promotions – Schaefer orchestrated one of the greatest promotions in recent boxing history, putting together the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight. The bout was promoted extraordinarily well and sold 2.2 million pay-per-view units, second all-time, and generated $150 million in PPV revenue, a record. He also consistently put together deep cards that appeal greatly to the sport's hardcore fan base. His irrational anger toward Arum and Top Rank is preventing some of the big fights fans are desperate to see from happening and that keeps him from being ranked higher.
3. Stephen Espinoza, Showtime sports executive vice president/general manager – Since taking over for Hershman at the start of 2012, Showtime's ratings are up more than 59 percent. He's also been instrumental in bringing Mayweather to Showtime, added longer, deeper cards and showed a commitment to the sport by airing undercard fights on Showtime Extreme. Espinoza is the 2013 Yahoo Sports Boxing Person of the Year.
2. Floyd Mayweather Jr., boxer/promoter/executive producer – Mayweather disrupted the industry in February when he jumped from long-time broadcast partner HBO to Showtime for a record-setting deal. As part of the deal, he negotiated for, and received, the right to be executive producer of several documentary films. He scores high in both power and influence.
1. Al Haymon, manager/adviser – Haymon is the most mysterious of men. He has a great aversion to being on camera. He does not speak to the media. He is not licensed as a boxing manager. But he has a large and ever growing stable of fighters that starts with Mayweather and includes dozens of the best fighters in the world. He used to put his fighters almost exclusively on HBO, and now he does it on Showtime. Regardless of the circumstance, Haymon gets things done and always seems to get his way.
Dropped off 2012 list – No. 4 Curtis Jackson; No. 10 Kathy Duva; No. 12 Fernando Beltran; No. 13 Oscar De La Hoya; No. 14 Richard Plepler; No. 15 Keith Kizer; No. 16 Wladimir Klitschko; No. 20 Bernd Boente; No. 22 Gordon Hall; No. 25 Kery Davis.