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Feature Story

Closed-door promoter summit!

By Flattop

FightNews has learned that more then two dozen U.S. boxing promoters are meeting Monday afternoon in New York City behind closed doors to discuss the “State of Boxing” and how to revive the industry. Insiders state that promoter Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing is the “promoter” of the summit but DeGuardia did not return calls and his staff did not comment. No media will be allowed at the meeting but FightNews was able to obtain the agenda. The topics for discussion include:

- Standardization of fighter and promotional contracts.

- Establishing a national databases for medical records so that promoters will know which fighters are medically eligible.

- Collaboration on reducing general expenses such as insurances and medical policies.

- Increasing sponsorship and network packages.

- Discussing general business practices such as contractual rights, combating tortuous interferences and the abuse of bankruptcy court.

- General discussion of the economics of the industry.

- Discussing upcoming legislative issues that are currently proposed by both State and Federal governments.

- Discuss the impact of MMA and how to have “equality under the law” with MMA.

One of my sources stated that their “hot topic” is obtaining “bigger money” sponsorship. “Boxing needs corporate sponsors to survive. If you don’t have television money or a site fee, then you need sponsors to survive. I can get local sponsors but it is difficult due to the economy and (local) sponsors are not paying what they used to a few years ago. Before I was able to have a card with two or three sponsors. Nowadays I need a dozen sponsors which means I have to give away most of my ringside seating (to the sponsors) so I have to scale my tickets higher or have my ticket sales reduced.”

Another promoter complained about how the premium networks – such as HBO and Showtime – have “House promoters” that will not put his fighters on the network unless he agrees to a co-promotional deal. “I can’t get my fighters on HBO or Showtime unless I agree to have my fighter co-promoted by their ‘House promoter.’ Everyone knows who controls HBO dates. At least Showtime has somewhat of a more open door but the opportunities on Showtime are far-and-few between. ESPN is no better. ESPN pays sh*t (for a license fee) that is if you can get a date. The only way to make money (with ESPN) is to bring an advertiser to the table.”

One promoter is anxious to discuss how to have the “same laws that apply to boxing to apply to MMA promoters,” specifically the Muhammad Ali Law. “The (Muhammad) Ali law was created to protect boxers because boxing does not have an organized league like football or baseball,” explained the promoter. “You have a hundred MMA promoters across the country that are promoting events every week but there is no protection for the MMA fighter like we have in boxing. Sure you have the State commissions, but there is no enforcement agency or Federal Law to protect the MMA fighters with their contracts, promotional rights or their money. Plus there is no recognized sanctioning body in MMA. It’s the Wild, Wild West!”

One promoter was worried about surviving the next couple of years. “I am a club show promoter, like most promoters. I can see myself getting out of boxing in a year or two if things don’t improve.” This promoter suggested that the only way to survive in boxing was by “small promoters merging their talent.” “I don’t have many fighters under contract. I have a lot of working relationships with different fighters but no signed contract. I work with different promoters putting my fighters on their card. I think more of us (promoters) need to share our talent with each other but everyone is scared of that someone is going to steal their fighter.”

Most of the promoters that I talked to are optimistic about the summit and are glad to have this opportunity to talk to their fellow competitor. “We all have the same grievances. This time there will be a bunch of us in the same room so hopefully something good happens.”

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