Eye of the Tiger Focuses on Belts, Looks To Climb Promotional Ladder

Eye – Pacquiao, Pacquiao, Pacquiao, sprinkle in a couple Mayweathers, rinse and repeat.

It can be semi sad when you consider where we are at in the world of fightwriting, especially on the web, where so much of the coverage is found, and more is gravitating to every month. We give the people what they want, which is what Manny is doing, what he ate for breakfast, what time he used the lavatory, what type of TP he favors.

We do that not because we are kind souls, and want to give the people what they want, because of our divine benevolence. No, we do so because of our world’s fascination with numbers. Pacman and Mayweather stories do good numbers, everything else draws crickets, an editor at a humongous web presence told me a couple days ago.

Hey, part of me understands and even accepts this is the world we live in, and is okay with it, to an extent. The customer always comes first, and is pretty much always right, so if the customer clicks on Manny stories ten times as much as anything else, well, you have to hear your constituency, and play to them. But while I can sympathize with this new media environment, it isn’t, overall, healthy for the masses. I mean, the masses gorge on McDonalds and little kids take in a scary amount of their daily calories from soda. THAT is giving people what they want, and it ain’t helping their waistlines or their arteries or their brains.

Now, we here at TSS are lucky, in that our publisher holds old school values, by and large, and he doesn’t command me to turn the site into PacPalace.com. So, we’re able to write about a wider variety of topics than some other sites, who obsess on Manny, because a Manny story is potent click bait.

But that naked and craven MO sometimes means we miss out on the breadth of available stories, and fighters, and persons involved in the sport. Too often, I get caught up on the massive entities, the HBO and Showtimes, the Golden Boys and Arums…and that means the smaller, but no less important, and no less compelling stories and people get the shaft. While I went ga-ga over Floyd the last few days, a few weeks after getting obsessive on Pacman, I chided myself, and promised myself I’d be on the lookout for more variety of stories. After all, I think it’s important to not act as if Pacquiao and Floyd will forever be on the scene, will enjoy Hopkins-esque longevity. Furthermore, I don’t know about you, but with all the Cold War dramas playing out, in between companies, and within companies, sometimes I like to remind myself that there are players out there that are staying in their lane, doing their thing with a minimum of drama, and repping the sport in respectable fashion.

Most of you guys know that ESPN is getting back into bigger bouts, and someone or someones have convinced some suits that spending maybe a million or two could benefit the bottom line, that ESPN could snag some market share in a sport which still boasts a “reasonable” buy-in rate. The WWL will show the rematch between Haitian/Canadian/American Bermane Stiverne, a 35 year old with a 23-1-1 mark, against Chris Arreola, the 33-year-old California resident with a 36-3 mark, on May 10. Last year, Stiverne worked through a blown out right shoulder and whacked Arreola around to the point he won a UD12. This time, Stiverne maintains he will finish what he started, and when he gets Arreola in trouble, as he did in round three of their first bout, when he mashed his nose and sent him to the mat, he will close the show.

Stiverne is managed by a Canadian who pretty recently has emerged on my radar screen, and I think is someone who we should pay attention to, because, judging by how many meaningful bouts financial wiz/fight manager/promoter Camille Estephan has his fighters in within the next six weeks, the guy is making a play to take some market share in his realm.

Estephan runs Eye of the Tiger, a managerial and promotional outfit which boasts a growing and solid stable of hitters. Stiverne, should he win the re-do against Arreola, will be top dog in the stable, because winning the WBC belt vacated by politico Vitali Klitschko would be an immense get, in any era. You saw Dierry Jean (25-1) impress people who thought he wouldn’t be on the same plane as Lamont Peterson when he gloved up in a junior welter title fight on Showtime, and you’ll be seeing more of the Eye crew in the coming weeks.

I reached out to Estephan to learn a bit more about who he is, how he got into the biz, and what sort of mark he wants to make on this red light district of sport which actually contains far more honorable and humble souls than cynical sorts would lead you to believe. First, I did a web search for Eye of the Tiger Management, and after wading thru material related to the fine Survivor anthem, found this. Here is the Eye of the Tiger mission statement:

Since 2008, Montreal’s Eye Of The Tiger Management has dedicated itself to the management of boxing athletes. At EOTTM, we believe that hard work, determination and commitment guarantee successful results. Applied daily, these three values enable us to move mountains, which is exactly what our athletes accomplish in every single one of their fights. Even though EOTTM is still relatively very young, we have already made quite an impact on the international scene. Indeed, our team of fighters is among the most talented and promising in the world: Antonin Decarie, Dierry Jean, Baha Laham, Chris Plaitis, Ibrahim Kamal, David Lemieux, Ghislain Maduma, Mick Gadbois, Schiller Hyppolite, Ayaz Hussain, Mitch Louis-Charles, Steven Butler, Bermane Stiverne and Mian Hussain.

With the goal of bringing its combatants to the top, EOTTM went from a simple management company to a now world class promotional outfit. In 2012, a series of professional boxing events was born entitled “Fight Club Series”. The objective of this series was obviously to showcase the talent of the boxing team by putting them in high caliber confrontations. Even more precisely however, this series allowed one of our up and coming stars to climb the world rankings in order to get the chance to fight for the prestigious world championship title. At this time, we can proudly claim “Mission Accomplished!”

“Five years ago, I was managing, and they were not getting the chances they deserved,” Estpehan recalls. So he decided to get in deeper, start promoting some shows. “But it all comes down to winning.” Estpehan told me he’s been more than happy to hear Arreola doubling down on his “THIS TIME I’m training seriously” schtick, because he thinks the best, trimmest, most energized Arreola will bring out the best in Stiverne. The heavyweight, who lives in Florida, trains at Floyd Mayweathers’ gym in Vegas. Stiverne’s been saying that he was far less than one hundred percent in the first Arreola scrap, so, in fine form, look out Arreola.

Estephan tallied up for me the lion’s share of opps his crew is getting, apart from the WBC heavyweight title crack, for Stiverne. “Coming up for the team are very exciting times,” he said. “This is what we’ve been working for so diligently… a total of 19 bouts including the heavyweight title of the world, an IBF elimination bout at lightweight, two NABF bouts, a WBC silver lightweight title, a WBC Continental title at welterweight, a FECARBOX scrap at super middleweight, fighters on ESPN primetime, HBO, Showtime and Sky, fighting in LA, Montreal, London. We are brewing up a storm!”

He gets a thumbs up from one of his boxers, welter contender Antonin Decarie (30-2; age 31; from Montreal), who told me the Eye guys are like family, and pull for each other. “Is Camille a good promoter? He’s great. He has a lot of respect for fighters, and has done an amazing job with Stiverne. Hopefully we come out on top in that fight, and Camille will become much more influential.”

Lord, I started shadowboxing in my living room, like I had just watched “Rocky” in the theater, when Estephan summed up Eye’s game-plan: “We are leaving no stone unturned to come out victorious! In the upcoming weeks, we are leaving a stamp, that we are here to be a player. I believe we will be rivaling ANY company with meaningful fights and activity.”