Photo by David Caselli
On July 12, 1986 a young Atlanta, Georgia native named Evander Holyfield electrified the state of Georgia. In a 15 round thriller Holyfield won his first world title by defeating the more experienced WBA cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi. The epic bout took place in Atlanta and was nationally televised during the peak boxing decade of the 1980s. The 24 plus years since that bout has seen the Georgia boxing circuit fall under the radar for the most part. New Georgia Boxing promoter Greg Barckhoff, however, is looking to change that pattern with his newly formed Sports Fan Properties LLC boxing promotions. Ironically Barckoff held a presentation of “The Ring of Honor” for Holyfield in his last show this past August. Fightnews caught up with Barckoff as he is preparing for his next show.
What is your background?
I am originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but headed south to get my college degrees from the Univ. of Kentucky and Univ. of Georgia. Out of college, I started working in professional baseball and then I went on to work in the college football bowl business for a few years. My family and I moved to Atlanta in 1998 where I started working for the Georgia Dome and then the Chick-fil-A Bowl/Atlanta Sports Council. All of my positions have either been in sales, marketing or events operation. Prior to creating Sports Fan Properties in January 2009, I was the publisher of a southeastern sports lifestyle magazine called SportsUnlimited.
What led you into boxing?
I have always considered myself an avid boxing fan growing up. I was always the one buying the major PPV fights and organizing my friends to pitch in. However, it was not until I attended a black-tie club show in 2001 that I saw the sport in a different light. I said to myself that day that once I had my own company I would do a club show just to see what it was all about. That’s exactly what I did on September 19, 2009 with The Big Rock Out 1.
How do you feel your working background will lead to success for you in boxing?
I believe that my facilities background at the Georgia Dome and my experience with launching major event while at the Atlanta Sports Council, has helped me immensely when negotiating for the right venue, production and media partnerships for our shows. Also, there is a great network of individuals in sports here in Atlanta and after living here for the past 12 years, I always know there is someone I can call to get the right answer or to help pitch in and help. Lastly, I have been amazed by the number of people working in and around boxing, (many whom I thought would look at me as the competition), that have opened their doors, ideas and contacts to me all for the “greater good” of the sport. That was really something I did not see happening and it has made all the difference…and quite frankly has made me work even harder.
How did you come up with the name for your promotional company?
Sports Fan Properties LLC was created mainly out of assets associated with SportsUnlimited Magazine. Effectively we have become a sports marketing, events and digit media company with an email database of more than 200,000 sports fans in the Southeast. Our events, websites and email blast capabilities make up our “properties”. The Big Rock Out name for the boxing events comes from us using rock music as a theme for our events and each show has featured a live band before or after the show free to all ticket holders. The rock music helps differentiate ourselves from most of our competition and we use both a rock and sports talk radio stations to promote our events.
When is your next show?
December 3rd in the Thomas Murphy Ballroom at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The event will be held the night before the SEC Football Championship, (which brings a Super Bowl type atmosphere to Atlanta). This event will also mark the first time we have feature a sanctioned title bout, in which Georgia native Paul Delgado (24-9-1) will take on Chris Gray for the vacant IBF/USBA Southern Regional Welterweight Title.
Georgia has not had a huge buzz in boxing since the prime years of Evander Holyfield. What are your short and long term goals to put Georgia back on the mainstream boxing map?
Our short term goal is to reinvigorate, identify and grow the boxing fan base in Georgia by putting on the most competitive, high quality Las Vegas-style shows on a consistent basis. Our long term goals are to change the perception of professional boxing in Georgia. We plan on doing this by involving all the “major players” involved in professional boxing along with some traditional media members to create a weight class based ranking system. We believe that because our ranking system will be easy to understand and readily available, that the casual boxing fans will begin to come back to the sport. The media element will play a big part in us achieving this long term goal, but I (along with others) truly believe that professional boxing in Georgia is ripe for a come back.