Adamek's Foursome (Part One with Kathy Duva) By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Dec 6, 2010) Special to Doghouse Boxing - Tweet
On Thursday night at his familiar haunts of the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, the ever-popular Pole, Tomasz Adamek will face Vinny Maddalone in a show that will be telecast on pay-per-view. Based on recent history, it's a pretty safe bet that, even versus the limited Maddalone, Adamek's bout will draw more people through the turnstiles than the shows that will be broadcast two nights later on HBO and Showtime- combined.
But just as importantly, this will mark Adamek's fourth outing in 2010. In an era when marquee prizefighters perform basically bi-annually, as they wait around for premium cable dates, this is a significant achievement.
And one that can only be accomplished if fighters and their promotional companies are willing to step out of that safe cocoon, roll up their sleeves, put in some work and be economically flexible.
"Sure, if even HBO and Showtime we're buying, they don't put anyone on more than once, twice a year, for the most part," said Kathy Duva, head of Main Events, which is the stateside promoter for Adamek. "I don't think that's active enough for anybody unless they're fighting mega-fights. So if we want to keep our guys busy, we have to find ways to do it without them. And if they want to get on board, great."
And you have to be a client who understands the reality of the marketplace. Main Events has one in Adamek, who realizes that the economics change drastically with a network license fee.
"He realizes that if he fights four times a year, he's probably making as much as he would if he fought once or twice a year on the premium networks. So it's really about how much money you got at the end of the day and he knows that being more active is beneficial. They guys who are more active have better careers. That's a fact," says “The First Lady of Promoting.”
It also helps to have a fighter who- get this- wants to actually fight often. In the aftermath of his physically grueling fight against Michael Grant over the summer, Duva wouldn't have minded if Adamek took the rest of the year off. Adamek insisted on this assignment.
"He did," confirmed Duva. "He's been keeping up this pace of four times a year and every time I think, 'Well, he's due for a break,' he comes back and says, 'No, I want another fight.' He's a good, sturdy, durable guy and he likes to stay active and busy and knows that's how he's going to keep his skills sharp enough, so that when the title fight comes, he'll be ready to win it."
Main Events and Adamek are bolstered by a lucrative Polish television deal. But unfortunately, here in this country, in what has become more and more of an insular world in the boxing business, they are not part of the cartels that seem to have so much cache with the HBOs or Showtimes. They are outsiders looking in. After Adamek's big victory over Chris Arreola in April, HBO didn't make a real strong effort to bring the Polish star back to the network. Now, if Arreola, who is advised by the highly influential Al Haymon, had won, you could assume that he would've been brought back before the end of the year.
With many fighters, this quandary would be catastrophic. Not with Adamek, who is willing to fight often as possible with realistic expectations. Somewhere along the way, fighters believed it was prudent to stay out of the ring, when their financial demands (no matter how out of whack they might have been) weren't met. Call it the “Winky Wright Syndrome.”
Duva states, "That happened a long time ago; that had to do, I think with fighters taking the attitude that if they didn't get the money that they wanted, they weren't going to fight at all. You see a startling number of guys fighting once a year. I don't get how that works and, frankly, the fighters we work with are ones who believe that being active is the key to having a successful career. Which by the way, doesn't mean you fight the toughest fight in the world every time you get in the ring. There's gotta be balance and that's another thing some guys don't understand. While I recognize the premium networks are paying a great deal of money and they want to have a war every time and that's their goal- although I'm not sure that they actually achieve it- that fans obviously- and Adamek, is a perfect example- have made it clear that they're happy to see their guy tested against different styles, with different kinds of situations.
"There is just this idea out there that, once you've lost a fight, nobody ever wants to see you again, Duva added. “Nobody wants to see a fighter unless he's in the toughest fight in the world every time out. Nobody’s career would last very long if they did. So if you're going to fight frequently, you're not going to be in with Godzilla every time. But there's a lot to make it interesting every time a guy gets in the ring. It doesn't always have to be a mega-fight."
Not being on a premium network gives you the luxury of basically being able to hand-pick your opponents, which Main Events has done with Grant and Maddalone, post-Arreola. But what they have to bank on is a large, passionate fan base in that region that has been cultivated over time and will consistently show up for Adamek. Regardless of the opponent, those that have gone to an Adamek card at the Prudential Center will tell you it's a frenzied and fun crowd.
But again, this goes back to the willingness of the promoter to actually do some old-school promoting. Today, too many “promoters” are nothing more than glorified television packagers, casino brokers, or a combination of both. There are, in fact, very few bona fide promoters left on the scene in the States.
"I can't speak for what other people should do but for us, we don't sign up 60, 70 fighters. Our business model is smaller; we kinda think of ourselves as a boutique operation," Duva explained of her company’s philosophy. "We do a great job for the guys we have. If I had 60 fighters, I wouldn't be able to have them all fight four times a year. It would be pretty tough to do. I think boxing at its heart is a local sport and locally, you can bring crowds in to see people that they know. I think if you try to make it something else and travel all over the country and world, have your guy fight every three months, that's a lot harder to do because people have to have a reason to want to pay for something.
"If you take a fighter to another place, completely where nobody has any interest in him and stick him in the ring- that doesn't mean anyone's going to watch. So we'd just rather nurture the market we're in and nurture the fighters we have."
And that is precisely what they are doing. This will be Adamek's third show at the Prudential Center in 2010 (His fight against Arreola was set in Ontario, California, at the behest of the network and the Haymon Boxing Organization). Duva herself has realistic expectations of this show, which takes place in the heart of the holiday season in a time and place when the economy is still sagging.
But they are being who they are.
A fighter who fights.
And a promoter who promotes.
The fight is being distributed in North America by Integrated Sports Media for live viewing at 8 PM EST/5 PM PST on both cable and satellite pay-per-view via iN DEMAND, DIRECTV, Avail-TVN and DISH Network in the United States and Viewer's Choice and Bell TV in Canada for a suggested retail price of only $29.95.Tickets priced at $53, $78, $103 and $253 (ringside) can be purchased at Prudential Center Box Office, by calling TicketMaster at 800-745-3000 or www.Prucenter.com
Great to see and hear Nick Charles ringside once again, this past weekend...Also, Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez, who was part of that broadcast team...Congrats to Rich Marotta, who has been elected into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame. An honor well-earned...Chris John defeated Fernando Saucedo over the weekend. So will he get a crack at Yuriorkis Gamboa next?...Eric Mangini is doing a pretty nice job of bringing along the Cleveland Browns. Will he get another year or two to complete the process?...Miami and Notre Dame at this stage is akin to Leonard-Duran III, isn't it?....