Maxboxing’s Steve Kim has an interesting interview with Kathy Duva, the woman running the show at Main Events, in advance of this weekend’s Tomasz Adamek fight. I entirely agree with her approach of keeping fighters busy, with or without HBO money, and was quite surprised to see her say that Adamek’s stay-busy bout with old heavyweight Michael Grant could earn Adamek more money via ticket sales than it could via cash from the network giant. These young, talented fighters who can’t draw fans – your Paul Williamses, your Timothy Bradleys, etc. – should take the same approach as Adamek: Pick a home, fight there a lot and build a fan base, then fight on HBO or whatever when the opportunity comes. According to Duva, some are thinking of doing just that. There’s another upside that isn’t even discussed in the Kim piece, and it’s that fighters who fight often are better and sharper than when they don’t.
It’s not a panacea, though. For one, Adamek’s fan base is heavily ethnic, and whatever the reason, black fans these days aren’t coming to support black fighters the way Polish fans are coming to support Polish fighters. Maybe that would change if Williams, Bradley et al got them motivated and fired up the way Polish fans are motivated and fired up by Adamek; the crowds for Adamek shows in New Jersey are bigger than when they began, but it’s also the case that Adamek started with a bigger base than Williams and Bradley because of Polish fans’ indigent support. Bradley’s fought at Agua Caliente Casino a few times, and still didn’t sell out the place last time without his promoter Gary Shaw buying up all the tickets.
For another, there is some value in HBO effectively serving as a promoter, although Kim’s piece doesn’t spell it out. “When you build an attraction and don’t have a clearinghouse to deal with, you are basically unhindered in who you can tab as an opponent,” Kim writes. That worries me, to some degree. HBO doesn’t always use its muscle wisely (like when it put Adamek-Chris Arreola in California), but does anyone dispute that it’s good HBO is putting pressure on a Williams-Sergio Martinez rematch? I don’t have a problem with Adamek fighting Grant between bigger bouts, but not everyone is going to be as eager to challenge themselves as a determined boxer like Adamek if they discover they can sell out a building fighting nobody. If you want evidence of that, look at, say, most of Chris John’s career. There’s value in HBO’s muscle, is what I’m saying, and if there’s nobody putting pressure on a fighter to break free of a regional deal that makes him as much money as HBO, then we’ve got a new problem.
At any rate, I’m not advocating against people mimicking the Adamek plan. Maybe it doesn’t work as well for Williams as it does for Adamek, but at this point, why shouldn’t Williams try?
- Tomasz Adamek-Michael Grant, Saturday, Integrated Sports Pay-Per-View, Newark N.J. If Adamek is going to stay busy, at the rate of about four fights a year, not every opponent must necessarily be against a killer. Grant was pretty good back in 1999, but Lennox Lewis probably ruined him in 2000, and the last significant opponent he faced, Dominick Guinn in 2003, also knocked him out. He does have a name (especially with Polish fans, who might remember Grant beating Andrew Golota more than a decade ago) and he does have size, however, the latter offering practice for a potential Adamek fight against a Klitschko brother. Adamek fights are reliably entertaining, by the way, regardless of opponent. On the undercard, junior middleweight Joel Julio makes an appearance, and he maintains some cache despite recent losses because he’s young and he’s been competitive, even improved in some ways, in each of those bouts. Also appearing is 2008 Olympian welterweight Sadam Ali. Our Scott Kraus will be credentialed media for the show.
- Erislandy Lara-Willie Lee/Yordanis Despaigne-Frank Paines, Wednesday, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes, Monroe La. Friday Night Fights moves to tonight this week. I appear to be the last person alive who likes watching Lara fight, since most now think the junior middleweight is too “boring.” But I really like his talent, and while he can be a bit cautious at times, he throws enough for my tastes. Lee has occasionally put up some resistance, with his best win coming over former top-10 contender Alex Bunema, but gets knocked out against anyone better than Bunema. Despaigne does it for me, too, and probably most fans – the light heavyweight is more aggressive than some of his Cuban brethren like Lara. His opponent, Paines, is from the factory in Colombia where they clone boxers with glossy KO records acquired against nobodies, and some of them are good but some of them are duds.
- Guillermo Rigondeaux-Jose Angel Beranza/Joksan Hernandez-Marlon Aguilar, Saturday, Fox Sports en Espanol, Tijuana Mexico. Rigondeaux is getting back into the ring after some professional turmoil outside the ring, and everyone who likes the gifted Cuban 122-pounder is probably breathing a sigh of relief. The best you can say about his opponent is that he’s experienced and doesn’t get knocked out a lot in his losses, and with just five pro fights for Guillermo, Beranza’s probably a better foe than most guys get at that level. Hernandez, a junior lightweight, is about the busiest fighter in the sport today, having already fought five times in 2010, and his opponent is respectable, but I have no idea what the plan is with Hernandez. I gather he makes good fights, but I haven’t seen him in action yet.
- Marco Huck-Matt Godfrey, Saturday, Erfurt Germany. Marco Huck is a good, exciting cruiserweight. Godfrey is a somewhat good, somewhat less exciting and – given the way he turned his back on the Steve Cunningham, Friday Night Fights and the fans – totally undeserving cruiserweight. It kinda ticks me off that this guy is getting a big fight, so I don’t think I’ll say much more than that it might be the most significant bout of the weekend, what with Huck being #3 in Ring’s cruiserweight rankings and Godfrey being #10.
- The Rest. On TeleFutura’s Solo Boxeo Friday, featherweight prospect Michael Franco and lightweight Mercito Gesta get the showcase treatment… On Saturday, junior middleweight Jimmy Lange heads to Greensboro, N.C. to begin a three-city fight outside of his home base of Virginia to take on a 12-39 boxer named Mike McFail, a name which sounds like fate playing a cruel joke on him (naturally, Fail Blog is on top of the phrase “McFail”). I give a lot of attention to Lange because he’s local, fun and I’ve seen some of his shows, so don’t you judge me. As they say in I Heart Huckabees: “What is it, a crime? Is it a crime to look at Lange?”