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Bob Duffy Thrives on Boxing’s Chaos

BY Robert Mladinich ON September 13, 2005
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Boxing promoter Bob Duffy has had a very stressful week. He and Frankie G., who owns the Academy of Boxing in Huntington, Long Island, New York, and is also married to former female boxing champion Kathy “Wildcat” Collins, are co-promoting a show on Thursday, September 15th, at the Huntington Town House.

The card, which has been in the works since June, was originally supposed to include 48 rounds of action. However, in the past few days one fighter scheduled to participate was arrested with his wife for either burglary or robbery. Another, undefeated featherweight prospect Gary Stark Jr., sprained his ankle playing basketball. Other fights fell out for the usual array of reasons that can make life hell for a promoter at any level.

“One guy just got cold feet and didn’t want to fight,” said Duffy, a retired NYPD detective and former director of boxing for the New York State Athletic Commission. “So, like every show, we find ourselves scrambling in the days leading up to it. But we’ll be putting on 38 very competitive rounds. The fans are going to get their money’s worth.”

Headlining the show will be Freddy Soto, 7-1 (4 KOs), who hails from the Bronx. He’ll be squaring off against Jaime Palma, 7-9 (1 KO). Whoever emerges victorious will be leaving the ring with the New York State lightweight title.

The two fought once before, to a four-round draw in Tunica, Mississippi, in August 2000. “This is going to be a good scrap,” said Duffy. “This might seem like a little fight to some, but it can make or break an up-and-comer’s career. Freddy is an up-and-comer.”

Soto is coming off a first-round knockout of the once promising Kevin Marston at the same venue in May. Duffy was excited by what he saw in Soto, not just as a fighter but as an attraction.

“He’s a great kid and he sells a lot of tickets,” said Duffy. “He’s got a nice future ahead of him. I’d say he’s a fight or two away from a co-feature spot on ESPN2.”

The lead-in to the main event pits undefeated middleweight “Mean” Joe Greene, 5-0 (4 KOs), of Brooklyn, against Craig Robinson, 7-1-2 (6 KOs), of Pine Mountain, Georgia. Greene, who is managed by Jack Stanton and trained by Don Turner, was a sensational amateur and is considered one of the hottest prospects in the New York metropolitan area.

Duffy isn’t doing him any favors by matching him with Robinson. “Robinson has no intention of going a few rounds, collecting his check and going back to Georgia,” said Duffy. “He’s got a good record and a good reputation. Greene is a can’t-miss prospect. This is a real fan’s fight.”

Also featured is undefeated middleweight Pawal Wolak, 7-0 (4 KOs), of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, vs. Julio Jean, 7-5-1 (3 KOs), of New Haven, Connecticut. In addition, three local hotshots are making their pro debuts.

They are welterweights Adam Cracker and Mike Ruiz and junior welterweight Juan Carlos Herrera. The latter two are former New York City Golden Gloves champions.

As frustrating as the promotional business can be, Duffy, whose love affair with the sweet science is legendary, thrives on the chaos. He half-laughingly describes finding last minute replacements and the logistics of organizing flights, rental cars and lodging arrangements at the eleventh hour. The expenses can be staggering, especially when the profit margin is so thin to begin with. 

“What is most frustrating is that everything is so well planned in advance,” said Duffy, who is grateful for the help of many friends, especially the highly regarded Florida-based trainer Pete Brodsky (a native Long Islander) for his invaluable assistance. “Inevitably you wind up putting fires out at the end. People ask me all the time why I keep doing this. The answer is simple. You can’t put a price on doing what you love. I love boxing and I love promoting fights. I don’t care if I’m ever the next Don King or Bob Arum. I’m just happy to be doing what I love. Not a lot of people can say that.”

Duffy, who promotes under the name Ring Promotions, has another show planned at the same venue in November. He’s also doing shows in upstate Monticello on October 7 and in Punta Gorda, Florida, probably in late November.

Tickets for Thursday’s show range from $30 general admission to $160 per person at a VIP table of 10. Included in that price is a two-hour cocktail party, a cigar and a seven-course meal. Tickets can be obtained by calling Frankie G. Productions at 631-673-3520.

Duffy and Frankie G. donated 20 tickets to residents of a nearby veteran’s hospital. It was the right thing to do.

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