A New Main Event on “Fight Night”
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Jan 19, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
Kathy Duva
Kathy Duva admits finding out last Friday that Eddie Chambers- slated to face Sergei Liakhovich in the main event on the inaugural edition of “Fight Night” on NBC Sports Network (Saturday, 9 p.m., ET/6 p.m., PT from the Asylum Arena in Philadelphia)- pulling out of his assignment wasn't just a mere punch in the gut. The bottom line is that Main Events has four opportunities in 2012 to make this deal work. Having your featured fight go into the scrap heap eight days before the card’s scheduled date is a rather foreboding omen.

For Duva, this wasn't just a left hook to the body; it was also, “followed by a right hand to the chin,” she told Maxboxing on Tuesday afternoon.
“Eddie Chambers came into my office and he sat there and he showed me the letter from the doctor and the only thing he did wrong was not telling me about it when it first happened because we would've had another week. And he showed me the letter from the doctor and he said, ‘I'm trying to get through it. I really want to fight.’ I read the thing. It said, ‘displaced fractures in two ribs.’ I said, ‘You can puncture a lung. I'm not going to put you in the ring. That's a serious injury. There's not a doctor on Earth who's going to clear you to fight and rightfully so and I can't knowingly put him in the ring knowing he's injured that badly. I wasn't going to do it.”
The original plan was to find a replacement for Liakhovich. In an era when the heavyweight talent pool is as shallow as it has ever been, that was no easy task. As one boxing insider cracked, “It's hard enough finding a good heavyweight on eight months notice.” Eventually, the usual suspects like Larry Donald, Jason Gavern and Tye Fields (ironic, given this network- known as “Versus” until the beginning of this year- had infamously dabbled in boxing with Top Rank and was fit to be Tye’d as Fields was featured once too often for everyone's liking) were brought up.
“When I heard the name Tye Fields, I took it as a sign,” said Duva, who explained, “I could put on a really good 10-round fight that no one's going to know who's going to win with two guys from Philadelphia who know each other and who expressly wanted to fight each other and jumped at the chance to fight each other.”
So the announcement was made that a pair of big men from Philly, Maurice Byarm and Bryant Jennings, would make the new co-feature, alongside the junior middleweight tussle between Gabriel Rosado and Jesus Soto-Karass. The equation here: Real Fight > Names.
“Yeah, over a name and an ‘appearance fight,’” stated Duva. “We went through everybody who was in training, everybody who was sparring, anybody who might plausibly be in shape, who would not have been in an ‘appearance fight.’ And frankly, there were several fighters who wanted to do it and their trainers talked them out of it and I can't blame them for that on a week’s notice to fight a guy like Liakhovich. But look, [Wladimir] Klitschko has pulled out of two fights in less than a year with a pulled muscle and a kidney stone. Erik Morales pulled out of a fight with gallstones a few weeks ago. In the world of premium cable, you just put the show off for a couple of weeks. We don't have that luxury here- the show must go on.
“So Liakhovich and Chambers will hopefully get to fight each other at some point. It's a bad break for Sergei but I cannot in good conscience say that we're not going to be doing boxing as usual and then put Sergei Liakhovich in with Tye Fields- and not to cast aspersions on any person. The only people who would do this are people who are desperate and didn't have any other opportunities. That's exactly what we didn't want to do.”
One of the major goals of this series is to have lively and energetic settings. Because both Byarm and Jennings are local, giving back refunds en masse has not been a problem, according to Duva. “It's an evenly matched fight. I don't know who's going to win,” she said. “The styles, Russell [Peltz] loves it. You got Byarm; even though he's a southpaw, he doesn't fight like a southpaw. He comes straight in; his nickname is ‘Freight Train.’ He goes straight ahead throwing punches. He's a big, big puncher against a really good boxer. It's a classic boxer-puncher match-up.”
Finding suitable fill-ins (namely when TV fights or main events are involved) is never easy- especially on such short notice. Nowadays, it's much more. Peltz, matchmaker for Main Events and this series, had the arduous task of coming up with a replacement. He says that the boxers of today are less prepared to come in on short notice.
“Yeah, because in the past, fighters stayed in shape. Today, they get in shape,” Peltz lamented. The fact is with boxers fighting much less frequently than in the past, they are more prone to having long stretches out of the gym. Peltz heard the phrase “not ready” frequently throughout this past weekend. “All the time, ‘I'm not in shape,’ this and that. I don't know how many times we went through from Friday afternoon till we locked it in last night (Monday).”
Message to any young fighters out there: Stay in the gym; be in reasonable condition at all times; you never know when that call might come.
“I thought this years ago,” said Peltz. “If I was training a fighter and every time there was a fight in town, if my guy wasn't on the show, I would have him ready to step in at the weigh-in the day of the fight, so they could get the experience.”
As Peltz began promoting back in 1969 with, shall we say, much looser regulations, it was easy to get guys to pinch-hit on short notice. “Oh, sure, because the gyms were packed. If they weren't packed, we'd go in the bars the day of the fight and get ex-fighters or drunks out of the bar. I'm not joking; I've done that. I went into bars and got guys that maybe had a fight or two and we would bring them into the dressing room and Jimmy Arthur, who trained Tyrone Everett, an excellent trainer, he would show the kid in the dressing room how to hold his hands so that when he went out there, he didn't flail around like some fifth grade kid. And he could do that on an hour’s instructions. I've done that- I'm not proud of it but we've done that. There were no medical requirements, none of that stuff.”
(Ah, the good ol’ days...)
It drives Peltz crazy when boxers, trainers and managers talk about getting “only” four or five weeks to prepare for a fight and opportunities to advance a career are rejected. To him, it's all part of a systemic breakdown of the boxing business and its infrastructure.
“I've said this for years and years- and this is an old Cus D'amato line- ‘It’s not that they're not any good fighters. There aren't any good managers.’ They don't know what to do and, unfortunately, HBO and Showtime- and even ESPN- foster this because they don't want to show the best fighters. They want to show the fighters with the best records. I said before the Teon Kennedy fight, ‘When fighters fight good fighters, they lose. If you're going to consistently fight good fighters and learn your craft, you're going to lose.’ You show me any kid today who's 15-0 or 20-0, he's either the next Sugar Ray Leonard or he's a fraud.

“And I don't see too many Sugar Ray Leonards around.”
As for Byarm-Jennings, Peltz says, “It's the best fight we could make and I'm very happy with it. Byarm comes forward; he's an aggressive southpaw, originally from South Philly and his father fought for me and Jennings is an action fighter from North Philly. This is the kind of fight, nine times out of ten, they would say, ‘Hey, let's wait a couple of years and we'll make some real money,’ but now, they're willing to do it at this level and that's what boxing needs. It needs showdown fights like this at this level.”
If the surname “Byarm” sounds familiar, it's because Maurice's father, Lionel, is a footnote in boxing history as the pro debut opponent for Evander Holyfield on the night of November 15th, 1984, as the members of the 1984 U.S. Olympic boxing team made their debut at the Madison Square Garden on ABC. 
Back then, as her late husband, Dan, ran the company, Kathy was the lead publicist for Main Events. Did she ever think years later, she'd be promoting a fight with Byarm's son?

“No, I didn't," answered Duva, laughing at the thought, “and y’ know what? Watching that fight that night- because Byarm was new and untested, nobody knew what we had either. Both were very inexperienced- seeing how Evander was the one who had the toughest night, no one would've believed that night he would've turned out to be the greatest fighter. So it's about the match-up. It's always about the match.”
“The Real Deal” got past Byarm that night, winning a unanimous six-round decision.


Roy Englebrecht is staging the latest edition of “Fight Promoter U.” For those interested, here's the 411 from his press release: 
Southern California based fight promoter and Fight Promoter University founder Roy Englebrecht announced today that the next four day session of Fight Promoter University, FPU VIII, will be held April 10-13, 2012 in Southern California and will be held in conjunction with his April 12th Fight Club OC show. 
“I am extremely excited to finally announce another FPU session,” said Englebrecht, “and I’m thrilled that attendees and future promoters will get to learn and experience all aspects of the fight promotions business, as well as be taught all the keys to the success of the new Fight Club OC concept that we launched a year ago. It is my hope that every student that attends FPU VIII will go back to their respective markets and launch their own fight promotions business, taking the business knowledge and fight promotions philosophy that they have been taught, and launch their own Fight Club series.”
“McDonald’s has Hamburger U, Donald Trump has The Apprentice, so why not a place for future fight promoters to learn all aspects of how to build a fight promotions business from scratch,” continued Englebrecht. “And with a great line up of ten guest speakers including some of the best in the fight business, the hands on experience of working a Fight Club OC show, and the chance to network with other people who share a love for combative sports, attending Fight Promoter University is a must. Plus students can take advance of our Special Early Bird Sign-Up Discount and save money.”
Launched in 2006, Fight Promoter University has seen 134 students attend the first seven sessions, coming from eight foreign countries and 38 states, with a number of FPU graduates currently promoting shows. For the April FPU VIII session students will be housed and all classroom meetings will be held at The Hotel Hanford, a new boutique hotel located in Costa Mesa, California, only five minutes for The Hangar, the home of Fight Club OC. Cost for the four day FPU VIII session will be $1,599, and that fee includes three nights lodging, all meals, the 265 page FPU Manual, FPU credential, all local transportation, FPU merchandise, and all classroom instruction. 
To register for Fight Promoter University VIII, and to take advantage of the Early Sign Up Discount go to www.fightpromoteruniversity.com. 


The March 24th edition of “Fight Night” on NBCSN will have a main event of Zab Judah vs. Vernon Paris and Duva will focus on hosting it at the Aviator in Brooklyn...Edner Cherry has signed a promotional deal with 8 Count Productions and will fight in Chicago on Feb. 24th...So is Peyton Manning going to retire? If you can't take what Rob Lowe says as gospel as it pertains to the NFL, who can you trust?...With what the Rangers have invested in Yu “The Whirling” Darvish, he better win 25 games a year...

More of Steve's recent work below his contact info...

I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.Twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.

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