Rival SoCal Promoters – Instead of placing a bushel of prized prospects on faraway destinations, two Southern California promotion companies opted to work at home and build a strong fan base for hometown talent.
The strategy seems to be paying off handsomely.
Despite working on opposite sides of the pay scale spectrum, the promotional giant Golden Boy Promotions and small scale Thompson Boxing Promotions share the same philosophy when it comes to grooming and guiding young talent.
These past two years each Southern California-based group has gifted the boxing public with eye-opening talent.
Thompson Boxing has super bantamweight Danny Roman poised to challenge for the world title after winning the NABF title recently. They also have super lightweight Giovanni Santillan a super slick southpaw from San Diego, plus two heavyweight prospects, LeRon Mitchell and Scott Alexander, ready to make the jump to another level.
Mitchell and Alexander fight each other for a minor heavyweight title on Oct. 21, at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario.
“I watched his (Alexander) fights. He’s a good athlete,” said Mitchell, a teacher at day and fighter at night. “He has a big task in front of him. My job is to not allow him to do it.”
Alexander is a young heavyweight from Moreno Valley who trains with Henry Ramirez.
“As a pro I know my man has not tasted defeat,” said Alexander. “So it’s my job to do that.”
However, heavyweights are a rare commodity in Southern California. Most prizefighters in this area dwell in the welterweight division and lower.
Last weekend, Thompson showed off another of its discovered gems in Russian lightweight Petr Petrov. He handily defeated Golden Boy’s Michael Perez a talented lightweight from New Jersey who fights out of Riverside. Petrov trains in Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
Expect Thompson to go head to head with Golden Boy more often. It’s cost effective.
Highlighting local talent has reaped benefits for both groups. Because of the intense spotlight put on Southern California, many boxers such as Perez and Petrov moved their headquarters from other spots in the world to sunny Cali. Petrov moved from Spain and Perez from Jersey.
Petrov’s victory over Perez was quality stuff. Both gave their best at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. It was quite a show.
Golden Boy has more than a dozen young prospects battling in the bantamweight, super bantamweight, and featherweight division. Guys like Diego De La Hoya, Manuel Avila, Jojo Diaz, Abraham Lopez and Julian Ramirez could be possible opponents for Thompson’s Danny Roman or Carlos Carlson. Any of those matchups would dazzle the fans who know these fighters. Every single one of the mentioned fighters has fought several times on Southern California fight cards.
Attending the Indio fight card by Golden Boy was elite welterweight fighter Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera who will be performing against Mexico’s Pablo Cano on Nov. 18, at the same Fantasy Springs Casino.
Herrera’s last fight was a loss by decision to East L.A.’s Frankie Gomez. In my opinion it was the only time Herrera (22-6) was actually beaten. Those other five losses were questionable. But the Riverside welterweight made no excuses.
“The better man won that night,” said Herrera last Friday. “Frankie Gomez is a very good fighter and he did his job.”
Herrera, despite excelling as a technical fighter, always gives a show much like his favorite fighter James “Lights Out” Toney. He faces the always tough Cano next month.
“You know that’s going to be an exciting fight,” said Herrera. “Cano is a tough guy. None of his fights are easy. Mine too.”
Herrera now fights under the Golden Boy banner but formerly fought under Thompson Boxing. That’s not an accident. Both hunt for local talent and are good at spotting it.
Golden Boy has been signing local fighters by the dozens the past two years and it pays off at the box office and in the standings. Throw in an Irish middleweight like Jason Quigley and a Mexican super featherweight like Francisco Vargas and that boosts the fan base.
Standing room only crowds are the norm for both Thompson Boxing fight cards and Golden Boy, especially at the intimate settings of the Doubletree Hotel and Belasco Theater.
On Friday, another Golden Boy card showcases a fight card heavy with local prospects. After beginning tentatively with sporadic shows at Belasco, the L.A.-based company has stepped up the number of shows there in downtown. The place swings. Believe me.
Talent just drips on these fight cards.
PIC: Avila delivers a straight right. / Check out more boxing news and videos at The Boxing Channel.