Maybe the boxing world is turning golden.
Golden Boy Promotions announced that Anchutz Entertainment Group acquired a sizeable portion of its stock and is now the second largest stockholder for the California-based company. On the same day it also announced that Shane Mosley’s fight with Zab Judah was cancelled due to an injury to the Brooklyn fighter.
You win some you lose some.
Less than a week after Oscar De La Hoya’s fight with Steve Forbes attracted 27,000 to the Home Depot soccer stadium, the Golden Boy revealed that the company that has arenas worldwide has decided to join forces with the boxing company bent on expanding into other ventures.
AEG wants to go along for the ride.
Tim Leiweke, CEO for AEG, said that past dealings with GBP and the directions the company is taking proved to him that a stronger relationship would be lucrative for the 60 venues owned worldwide.
“Stand alone, we like this investment,” Leiweke said. “We thought the future of boxing is going to be Golden Boy Promotions. They have the best vision.”
Recently GBP announced it signed Daud Chino Yordan, a 20-year-old from Indonesia to a five-year contract. The featherweight is undefeated with 20 wins and 15 knockouts.
AEG has a venue in Shanghai, China that can be used and they also own the O2 Arena in London, England.
“To bring in an 8,000 pound gorilla into the sport of boxing is really a vote of confidence to the sport,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO for Golden Boy Promotions.
Oscar De La Hoya said GBP plans to make the deal benefit boxers worldwide and there has been an inkling that a monthly fight show planned in Los Angeles, at AEG’s Nokia Theater is one of the considerations to bring pro boxing back on a regular basis to the boxing crazy town.
“It’s a historical day for the sport,” said De La Hoya.
Max Kellerman on boxing’s future
Last week proved that given the right ingredients boxing has explosive drawing power.
During the middle of his 12-round battle Oscar De La Hoya looked up at the stands for a quick glimpse at the 27,000 fans witnessing the boxing card.
“Every few rounds I would see the crowd and say wow. This is something special, it’s amazing,” said De La Hoya. “You can hold a boxing event and fill it up.”
Boxing nailed another big crowd and during the last 12 months attendance for major fight cards has remained at a peak with De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Ricky Hatton, and Manny Pacquiao contributing toward filling seats.
One man who gets a first-hand glimpse at many of these recent mega-shows is HBO’s boxing analyst Max Kellerman of New York City.
Kellerman credits fighters like De La Hoya and Israel Vazquez who are willing to fight the best regardless of weight, size or danger in propelling the sport onward.
“Oscar would fight Godzilla,” said Kellerman, adding that he deserves to back off once in a while from a mega fight and take a less dangerous foe such as Steve Forbes.
Kellerman, an astute boxing historian, credits countries like the Philippines, Great Britain, Germany and Mexico for keeping professional boxing thriving and breathing. He also finds that the U.S. has been supported by Southwest-based Latinos.
“In this country it’s the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans that buy the pay-per-views and keep boxing alive,” said Kellerman. “The sport of boxing also relies on star power.”
Filling up an entire stadium comes easy for Britain’s Hatton who was able to drag 20,000 Brits to Las Vegas last December for his WBC welterweight title challenge of Mayweather.
Filipino superstar Pacquiao was able to equal that feat when he fought Oscar Larios in a Manila stadium in July 2006 to more than 20,000.
Now De La Hoya was able to attract 27,000 fans, more than any other Los Angeles fight card in 37 years. The East Los Angeles star was also able to lure that many fans to El Paso, Texas in 1998 when he faced Frenchman Patrick Charpentier before a sold out Sun Bowl on a June night.
Like Kellerman said, boxing is star driven.
De La Hoya has announced that this is his final year with only two more bouts remaining before he hangs up his boxing gear for good.
So who’s the next American boxing star?
Top Rank’s Bob Arum believes he has two prime candidates for De La Hoya’s soon to be vacated American throne in Miguel Cotto and Kelly Pavlik.
“Kelly Pavlik can be the next Oscar De La Hoya,” said Arum before Pavlik beat Jermain Taylor a second time.
One other consideration is the Mexican-American market.
As Kellerman stated, in the Southwest, Mexican-American fans continue to pack boxing shows small and gargantuan as last Saturday’s fight card proved. The next De La Hoya-like star could possibly be another Mexican-American fighter like a Victor Ortiz, Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero or someone from the next summer Olympics in China.
“It’s someone that has to be appreciated by non-boxing fans, the casual sports fans,” said Kellerman. “Whoever comes out the victor between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito could be a huge hero.”
It could very well be another fighter from Central or South America. During the 1970s a couple of boxers named Alexis Arguello and Roberto Duran arrived from those areas and were able to fight to large audiences. Boxers like Venezuela’s Jorge Linares and Edwin Valero both have world titles and fight primarily in Japan for now. But Teiken Promotions is ready to hit the American market with their prizefighters.
“Maybe sometime this year Valero will fight in Texas,” said Nobu Ikishima, coordinator for Teiken.
Boxing has returned as an immense gate attraction thanks to several international stars and could find the next crossover superstar soon.
“The timing is right,” said Kellerman.
Rating the prospects
This past weekend brought a number of good prospects to the forefront including two fighters from the Eastern seaboard.
Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia, a junior middleweight, finally was extended for the entire scheduled bout when he fought former championship contender Julio Gamboa of Nicaragua.
The heavy-handed Garcia usually knocks out opponents in the first or second round, but couldn’t get past all of the tricks and maneuvers Gamboa was using. Those Phillie bombs by the fresh face kid just weren’t finding the mark. It was top-notch experience for Garcia who will see more and more of that if he continues to advance. He gets a B for using his boxing skills.
Brooklyn’s Daniel “The Golden Child” Jacobs predictably bounced out Kansas City’s Jose Pena in the first round. A first knocked down occurred from a right hand, but Pena beat the count. A second and final knockdown took place from a tight left hook to the chin. Pena was counted out at 53 seconds of the first round. That’s six knockouts in six wins for Jacobs, but it really doesn’t show what Jacobs can do against a real challenge. The super middleweight has fast hands and good balance. Jacobs rates a C for an average showing.
Victor Ortiz looked to have an easy win on paper against Colombia’s Dario Esalas, especially after dropping him with a right-left combination in the third round. After the Colombian beat the count, he found Ortiz wide open for a counter right hand that dropped the Oxnard-based southpaw. He grinned and nodded his head. After that Ortiz hunted aggressively but carefully for an opening in Esalas defense. A straight left hand knocked down the Colombian in the fourth round and a left hand counter turned him around and to the floor in a macabre dance. Referee Jose Cobian mercifully stopped the fight. Ortiz gets a C+ for coming back after a knockdown.
Currently Ortiz is with a new manager and a new training center. He’s also under fire from Top Rank who promoted Ortiz under his former manager Cameron Dunkin. He’s waiting to see what the courts decide. That’s a lot of headache for a 21-year-old.
Vicente Escobedo, who early on experienced pressures being compared to De La Hoya, won his main event against Argentina’s Roberto Arrieta, but still gets hit too much. When he moves up and starts fighting contenders he’s going to discover they hit harder and faster. But it’s one step at a time for the Sacramento kid. That left jab of his does look like a De La Hoya variety. It’s quick and hard and difficult to avoid. If he builds off that he can go somewhere quickly. His trainer Nacho Beristain is a good defensive tactician and should be able to guide Escobedo in the right direction. He gets a B-.
Chris Arreola, a heavyweight from Riverside, has yet another big challenge in front when he fights Chazz Witherspoon next month. There’s never been a Mexican-American heavyweight champion. If he succeeds, he could possibly be another gate attraction. Everywhere he goes he gets crazy fan attention.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 7 p.m., Mike Arnaoutis (18-2-2) vs. Lanardo Tyner (19-0).
Fri. Telefutura, 8 p.m., Mike Alvarado (20-0) vs. Michel Rosales (16-1).
Sat. Showtime, 10:45 p.m., Junior Witter (36-1-2) vs. Timothy Bradley (21-0).