An ambitious plan to return boxing to its glory years is about to happen on Thursday, June 11 at Club Nokia located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
Sure boxing is still big in the city of Angels, but not since the 1980s has there been a regular fight card underneath the shadows of the skyscrapers, or the freeways for that matter.
Golden Boy Promotions is banking that they can bring back the regular boxing crowds with its new “Fight Night Club,” a monthly boxing series that features local talent. And there definitely is an abundance of local talent in the Southern California region. It will also be shown on Versus for those out of the area.
“Boxing can thrive in Los Angeles but you need two key ingredients: a local fighter who can draw crowds and talent,” said Richard Schaefer, Golden Boy’s CEO. “We think we can succeed in Los Angeles. There is a lot of boxing talent.”
It’s risky business, even for a mega boxing outfit like Golden Boy Promotions. Boxing promoters have come and gone that attempted to bring a regular boxing program to the heart of the city. Not since the Olympic Auditorium held weekly shows has there been anything that resembled success in the area.
Ironically, the Olympic is located a mere mile away from Club Nokia. But who would have envisioned the Staples Center, LA Live and a return to centrification (or gentrification) in downtown L.A.? It had been a refuge for homeless for decades. Not any more.
The last time the Olympic Auditorium opened its doors for boxing was June 10, 2005 when Mexican fighter Sal Casillas fought Filipino fighter Vernie Torres in the main event. It was the last boxing card ever at the last boxing palace in Southern California and it took place almost exactly four years ago. Today, the Olympic is a Korean church.
Ironically, it’s the same Vernie Torres who is penciled in to fight Cornelius Locke in a junior lightweight contest set for six rounds. Happy anniversary Vernie!
Schaefer has an overall plan to make Club Nokia, a venue that holds 2,000 fans, the first stop toward building a fan base in Los Angeles. He wants workers – be they professionals or the guys or girls working at Starbucks – to be able to leave work and simply walk, drive or get the subway to the sparkling new joint and spend an evening watching some of the best professionals boxers in the area.
If Golden Boy succeeds in selling out those seats, the next step, in time, is the larger Nokia Theater that seats 8,000 people. If that eventually sells out regularly, the final step is across the street at Staples Center where 20,000 fans saw Sugar Shane Mosley upset Antonio Margarito for the WBA welterweight crown.
But first, you got to get on base. And first base is Club Nokia.
“We feel it will be great venue for the sport of boxing,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO for Golden Boy. “We’re going to feature local talent every month.”
It will be the first monthly boxing show for Golden Boy Promotions at the new venue located across the street for Staples Center.
Junior lightweight sensation David Rodela (12-1-2, 6 KOs) of Oxnard faces Juan Garcia (14-2, 5 KOs) in an eight-round battle at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 11.
Also on the fight card will be undefeated Charles Huerta (10-0, 6 KOs) facing undefeated Noe Lopez Jr. (4-0) in a featherweight battle.
Orange County’s Luis Ramos (10-0, 5 KOs) is also on the card in a lightweight bout with Mexico’s Baudel Cardenas (18-16-2).
Schaefer said the boxing company wants to build a fan base in the downtown area much like what occurred one mile away at the Olympic Auditorium.
For tickets or information (800) 745-3000.
Commerce Casino fight card
On Thursday, June 11, All Star Boxing presents a “Battle of the Rising Stars” fight card at the Commerce Casino. For tickets and information call (323) 816-6200.
Irvine Fight Card
Also on Thursday, Roy Englebrecht Productions presents a boxing card at the Irvine Marriott Hotel featuring Riverside heavyweight Hildo Silva. For tickets and information (949) 760-3131.
Thompson Fight Card in Ontario
On Friday, June 12, Herrera fights for a regional welterweight title in front of a predicted sold out crowd where more than 1,800 people will definitely see him. For tickets or information (714) 935-0900.
Fights on television
Thurs. Versus, 9 p.m., David Rodela (12-1-2) vs. Juan Garcia (14-2).
Fri. ESPN2, 7 p.m., Robert Guerrero (23-1-1) vs. Efren Hinojosa (30-5-1).
Sat. HBO, 7:35 p.m., Miguel Cotto (33-1) vs. Joshua Clottey (35-2).