what was a brisk autumn afternoon last Saturday at the Santa Anita Park, a
place best known for thoroughbred horses, a pair of prizefighters were featured
as a prelude to this weekend's pay-per-view event in Las Vegas. While the
horses ran trackside, a boxing ring was set up near the far end of the
bleachers. The main focus of the predominantly Mexican-American turnout was
Juan Manuel Marquez, who faces Manny Pacquiao in this weekend’s big event.
First to appear at this promotional junket was junior welterweight titlist Tim
Bradley, who appears on the undercard in his Top Rank Promotions debut.
Bradley worked a few token rounds on the pads with his trainer, Joel Diaz, only
a smattering of fans had shown up by this juncture. The truth of the matter is
most everyone who arrived would come to see Marquez, who was mobbed by the masses
“Desert Storm,” this is the first step in Top Rank's plan to showcase him to
the general populace and turn him into a transcendent figure, not a guy whose
supposed “big” fights take place at decrepit barns like the Pontiac Silverdome.
In addition to taking care of his media duties, Bradley made a live appearance
on Horse Racing TV and stayed for a few hours to sign autographs and pose for
pictures with the public.
means a lot to me; you know why? I feel that this is a great opportunity for
the fans to come out to an event like this, see the actual fighters, interact
with the fighter,” said Bradley, who faces Joel Casamayor on Saturday. “It does
good as far as building interest towards the fight because when they leave here,
they're going to take those pictures and post them online. They're going to
tell their friends about it, then their friends’ friends are going to tell
their friends about it and it's a train effect. It's going to go right down the
line and many people are going to know who Timothy Bradley is.”
guess you could call it the “Alpha-Beta” effect. In other words, tell a friend.
coming to Top Rank, Bradley was co-promoted by Thompson Boxing and Gary Shaw
Productions, who did an admirable job of moving him up the boxing food chain
and developing him as a boxer. But in terms of raising his profile? Well, let's
just say that's where his past promoters were a tad limited. It's hard to do
that if all you're going to invest in during an event’s build-up is the
obligatory conference call with reporters and a media workout. It's now the
cookie-cutter option that is too often the template for “promoting” fights
remarked, “Sometimes they'll do some sort of events but nothing like this, nothing
big like this, promoting a fight but I'm happy to be here and this event here
is great. It's great for me. It's the first time I've ever done something like
this in my career.” As you saw Bradley mingle with the fans, it's clear that he
enjoyed the attention, especially considering that he's been incognito the past
nine months since his victory over Devon Alexander in late January. According
to Bob Arum, who was on hand with members of his staff, just about every single
fighter yearns to have such activities planned for him.
it takes money and resources and in the age of TV packagers, fewer and fewer of
these events are organized. You can call Arum a lot of things but first and
foremost, he’s a traditional, throwback promoter. “If you're a promoter, how
are you supposed to promote, right? I mean, you don't promote, sitting at your
desk and just calling various media people and making statements about how they
should write something because boxing is dead and you should revive it. That's
not promoting,” he stated emphatically.
Rank believes that Bradley, a fighter who's more respected than revered, can be
something bigger than just a guy who appears on HBO or Showtime twice a
year in casino ballrooms.
think Tim Bradley can be a big, big star. I think we can bring Tim Bradley
around so we pack arenas, so we really expose him. It wasn't so long ago that
people said, ‘What can you do with a little Filipino who could barely speak
English?’ That might be true but the key difference is that for whatever
barriers the “Pac-Man” faced, he has a fan-friendly style that resonated with
the public. Arum and his company can put up millions of dollars in a marketing
campaign but it won’t mean much if Bradley can't be an entertaining performer.
In boxing, style points count- if you want to be a star.
young man from Cathedral City (near Palm Springs) doesn't disagree with that
something I've been thinking about these last couple of months,” he admitted. “That's
the reason I've been working extremely hard, extra hard to be a crowd-pleaser
for this upcoming fight on this big stage. I prepare each time out to be a
crowd-pleaser but you know what? This time I put in a lot of work and everybody
is going to see it on the 12th. I put a lot of work in. I'm
prepared. Like I said, I did not have one bad sparring day. Normally, in my
training camps I have a couple of bad sparring days but not one time did I look
completely horrible in sparring. I looked phenomenal each time out.”
just wish that the chance to shine on this occasion didn't come against the
ghost of Casamayor, a fighter who's the very definition of “faded.” In many
respects, Top Rank put Bradley in a lose-lose situation. Blow him out and you
won’t get much credit for it. Struggle and, well, you did so against a shot
guy. And there is time to make up for. What was supposed to be this defining
victory in Pontiac against Alexander was instead a disappointing night for fight
fans only to be followed up by in-fighting and litigation with Bradley’s now-former
promoters. Top Rank would like to erase that with plenty of opportunities to
show his stuff in the upcoming future.
goal is to have him as active as possible next year. The veteran promoter says,
“They realize that we can't always pay them the top dollar like when they're
fighting on HBO or Showtime but we can pay them well to fight on pay-per-view
cards and so forth because you're not going to get more than two fights for
them on HBO. But that doesn't mean they should be limited to those two fights.
I would like three but ideally four fights for him in 2012.”
fight with Pacquiao could be in the offing (let's not be naïve; it is one of
the reasons why Bradley signed with this company). But for “Desert Storm,” just
being on his undercard- despite all the other significant championship fights
he's been half of in the past- represents the biggest stage he's ever been on.
he said, grinning widely. “No disrespect to anybody but it is bigger. It
absolutely is the biggest fight card I've ever been on in my whole career.”
Lou DiBella confirmed to Maxboxing on Tuesday afternoon that Andre Berto had
vacated the IBF welterweight belt he just won in September versus Jan Zaveck.
Berto was due to face his mandatory challenger Randall Bailey but the word is
that HBO balked at that fight, preferring a rematch between Berto and Victor
Ortiz, who won their memorable first war back in April.
But DiBella is a bit miffed by HBO's position.
“Team Berto recognizes and I recognize that boxing needs the biggest fights
right now and we understand why they press for Victor Ortiz but it just seems
that there's something of a double-standard out there and that there's no
question that Randall Bailey is a legitimate mandatory- unlike most of them- that
he earned the right by fighting top welterweights and that he is the most
dangerous puncher, pound-for-pound in boxing, and that obviously he would've
posed risk for Andre Berto. So the IBF treated him like a schnook and it's
offensive to me and to Bailey.”
It has to be noted that Bailey, like Berto, is represented by DBE and has taken
more than one step-aside fee during his tenure as the top-ranked contender.
DiBella continued, “And frankly, Berto worked to get that opportunity and to
have to give up the belt after he paid very, very well and dearly for Jan
Zaveck to come here- including economic options that we have to pay even though
we're not going to defend that title is somewhat troubling. And what gets me is
they say that the titles don't matter- until they matter to them because
there's a number of fights they've made over the last year- and you don't need
me to point them out- that are simply opportunities to get belts for certain
people and that's troubling.”
OK, but it has to be pointed out that, for years, Berto has benefited from
being part of the Haymon Boxing Organization and it's ironic that Zaveck was,
in large part, chosen by Berto's representatives and green-lighted by the
network because of that belt. But perhaps it truly is a new day at the beleaguered
network. Maybe this is a signal that from this point forward, it will be about
fights, not fighters (or their promoters or the advisers who rep them).
“Now on the flipside of it, I'm happy if we can get a deal done for Ortiz and
Golden Boy. This would be the biggest way to start the New Year and God knows
we need quality fights and these two guys will always go to war with each
other. It's just, stylistically, a great fight. It was a great fight the first
time,” said DiBella.
As for the vacant belt, DiBella stated he was waiting on the IBF to designate
the next leading available contender. He noted, “It appears to be Carson Jones,”
who has a fight scheduled for December against Ricardo Williams. If DiBella had
his way, it would be Bailey-Jones as the opener to Ortiz-Berto II- but there's
one fight he will not have thrown on him.
“I will not be involved in the promotion of that show if Devon Alexander and
Paulie Malignaggi, if they try to shove that on my show,” he promised. “It'll
be the second fight in a row that I've learned that they're discussing fights
that don't involve me as the opening fight- and that's not going to happen. I'm
not having another fight shoved underneath me, particularly a fight that is as
non-entertaining as Devon Alexander and Paulie. They want to make Devon and
Paulie, give a date to Golden Boy and let them do it. I have no problem with the
free market but don't shove that underneath my show.”
OK, the thing is, what if it's Golden Boy's date? And if the days of their output
deal with HBO are finished and this is a true co-promotion, what makes it so
clear to DiBella that GBP would want Bailey-Jones as the co-feature? Then there
are the issues of the purse split and venue that still have to be ironed out.
The working date for this fight is late January.
“I understand they want to start the year with the biggest fight you can start
it with but here's what troubles me,” explained DiBella. “It seems to be a
couple of promoters that are always put in that situation where, why aren't
others dictated to that have more leverage? They should also be making the
biggest fights possible. Why isn't it dictated to in an even-handed way? I have
no problem with the premise. It's correct. My only objection is a lack of an
even playing field.”
funny how Gary Shaw is making some rather self-serving comments to various
writers on how he would've built up the fight between two of his former clients
James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo into something bigger for both men. Well,
geez, didn't he do the exact opposite in basically microwaving
Bradley-Alexander like a Totino's frozen pizza?
he would have staged that fight at the Kingdome in Seattle (even after it was
do you feel about a rematch between Kirkland and Nobu Ishida?...Forgot to
mention this before but Efrain Esquivias had a solid victory over Fernando
Beltran Jr. in Ontario, CA on Friday night...“The Piers Morgan Show” featuring
Pacquiao, Arum and Freddie Roach airs on Friday night on CNN at 9 PM, ET/PT...Tony
Weeks has been named as the third man in the ring for Pacquiao-Marquez on
Saturday night...So is Earl Bennett the go-to receiver the Bears needed all
along?...Did Joe Flacco exorcise all his demons against the Steelers?...Just my
opinion but the bout between Luis Cruz and J.C. Burgos is the best fight on the
Pacquiao-Marquez undercard...He may not be a truly elite QB but Eli Manning is
having an elite season for the “Big Blue”...Well, you can call Albert
Haynesworth a big ol' bust for the Patriots...Will this be the way that the
legendary “JoePa” will leave Penn State? It's almost unfathomable...
Please be sure to check out our new
video featuring our own Steve Kim and videographer Brian Harty’s excellent
coverage of Manny Pacquiao in preparation for his Saturday night showdown
against Juan Manuel Marquez. You can find it right here