Boxing 360’s New Series Brings the Sport Back to its Roots By Gabriel Montoya (Sept 22, 2010) Special to Doghouse Boxing
If you are looking for boxing this weekend on your TV live on the East coast and are coming up snake-eyes, the New York-based promotional firm Boxing 360 has something to take away the lean weekend fight schedule blues. At the Plattduetsche Park Restaurant in Franklin Square, New York, Boxing 360 will be kicking off its Boxing 360 Series of fight cards with an event featuring young up-and-comers and local attractions. It’s a cocktails/dinner show for the local scene who wants good action and live fights. While it may not be HBO PPV in Vegas, what Boxing 360 brings are local fighters- either East coast natives or fighters now based in New York looking to build a fan base- in local venues where the fans of each fighter can afford to travel to and enjoy a night at the fights. This card slated for Friday night is the first in the “Boxing 360 Series,” presented by Bob Duffy’s Ring Promotions and sponsored by Boxing 360, which will be an ongoing series of fight cards in the tri-state area.
The inaugural card was slated to have Guyanese super middleweight prospect Lennox Allen, 12-0-1 (7) as the main event but the sudden, tragic death of his younger brother derailed the young fighter. But true to his mission of never putting his fighters in compromising situations or in fights they have less than an even chance to win, Dr. Mario Yagobi supported his fighter in a time of need.
“Lennox’s brother unfortunately passed away at the age of 19 of a heart attack a couple weeks ago,” said Boxing 360 CEO and founder Dr. Yagobi told Maxboxing.com this week. “Lennox was in great shape. We had him fighting for the New York state title. He went down to Guyana; he was training still down there. When he came back, he was not himself. He was just like, ‘Mario, I just can’t get myself to the gym and train for this fight. My mind is not in it. I can’t do it.’ So I don’t want to put him in a position where he is not going to do well. It’s understandable. He’s 24 and his younger brother is 19, the youngest one. He just died and that is very traumatic. So I understand. I can’t even get upset at it, you know? Even though we got posters and doing everything around him. He was the show. He was the main event. And that just fell apart on Friday. He finally told me, ‘I can’t do it.’ I was like, ‘No problem.’ I want him to be 100%. Mentally, he wasn’t there. He wasn’t focused. We’re not going to put him on a show like that.”
Unlike a promoter who might wait for a network to give him a date so his fighters can fight, Boxing 360’s approach is to keep their fighters active in career and fan base-building fights at a local level. This strategy is both good for the fans and the fighters as they can grow together while they head up the boxing food chain.
“This is the first one,” said Yagobi of their new series. I want to get a feel for how everything happens. We have a few venues we are going to be doing shows in. We have one in Long Island. We will bring the New York guys to the same place in November. Then we are going to go to New Jersey to do a show there. We are going to do shows in those three locations every six weeks pretty much; one time in New Jersey, one time in Long Island, one in Manhattan. Then bring it all together at Madison Square Garden. It will take time. We want to build a following and show the fans that whatever we say, we do. Whatever Boxing 360 promises, that’s what we deliver.”
In show business, which boxing certainly is among other things, they say ‘The show must go on.” And in this series’ case, it still will be despite losing the headliner. It’s all part of the growing process for Yagobi and his team. Dr. Yagobi told me that he believes in promoting a fight card the old-fashioned way, street by street, person by person. To him, he is promoting a night at the fights and not just one fighter he hopes you come and see.
“I’m sure the card will happen,” said Dr. Yagobi. “Everything was geared toward [Allen] but our ticket sales and everything, we should do well. It’s not like he had a huge following. Tickets are being sold. We have an aggressive team out there. We go at it old-style. I have five to ten people that go out and put posters in Long Island, in New York City, everywhere. We do it all year-round. We don’t just do it for an event. We put out Boxing 360 all the year round in the tri-state area. We bombard the area with posters and promotional things. So we know we are going to get a full house. I got literally guys that walk on the street with posters and postcards, pens, and shirts, and key chains; you name it; we give it out. We have protein bars that we give out to people. We really promote. I believe in promoting like grassroots. Word of mouth. That’s the best way to get the news out. We go from building to building, Connecticut, New Jersey, all five boroughs. I have a team that that’s their job five days a week. They go around and hit all these places. And then when we have a card, we put out information on that card, you know? So people know the week before.
In the main event, New York State light heavyweight champ Ronson Frank, 15-0 (7), who fights out of Rosedale, NY but hails from Guyana, meets Tony Ferrante, 9-1 (4) out of north Philly. If the name Frank means anything to you, it’s because Ronson is the brother of Raul and Steven Frank.
“We have Joshua Harris, a cruiserweight,” said Dr. Yagobi. “He is 6-3-1 with 5 KOs. His last three fights, he beat all undefeated guys. He’s a puncher and a boxer. He’s been sparring with the top-ranked [cruiserweight] Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. We have another fighter named Arthur Bridges. He’s a 135-pounder. He is 6’2” from Atlanta, Georgia. He is 1-0 and apparently an unbelievable fighter. We’re going to see him in this first fight with us. A lot of people wanted him. Gary Shaw wanted him. Top Rank was looking at him. And then we have Issouf Kinda, 8-0 (5), we are looking to sign as well if all goes well.”
So you are probably asking, “Who are these fighters?” The answer is simple: they are exciting fighters on a local card you can go see in the New York area. As a writer, I hear all the time how the sport is dying and how we need more local shows and better promotion. Boxing 360 may not be reinventing the wheel but what they are doing is putting on fan-friendly shows at affordable prices and helping to grow the sport in an area that was once the Mecca of boxing but now sits second fiddle to the West Coast in terms of talent level and amount of shows they put on. With promoters like Lou DiBella and his Broadway Boxing series as well as Golden Boy Promotions’ new deal to put on shows in New York, the Tri-State area might be seeing resurgence in the coming years.
But for Dr. Yagobi, it starts at this level, local shows with good fights that get people on their feet cheering. To him, that’s what it’s all about.
“I want to give the audience a good show and an exciting show,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be with undefeated guys. It’s got to be guys that are equally matched. You can have a guy who is 4-4 against a guy who is 3-5 and have the most exciting fights, you know? It doesn’t have to be guys with “0” at the end of their record. People want to see is a competitive fight and that’s what I want to bring. It has to be competitive so people get excited at a good match.”
Tickets, priced at $175.00 (includes cocktails and dinner party), $75.00 (ringside) and $50.00 (general admission), are available by calling 516-313-2304 or Plattduetsche Park Restaurant or at Boxing 360 (183 Bleeker St.).
Doors open at 7:00 PM/ET, first bout at 7:45 PM. For more information got to www.Boxing360.com.
For those of you chomping at the bit to see the new Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale movie, David O. Russell’s “The Fighter,” here is the new trailer for you. Yeah, I know what you’re saying. Mark does look more like Arturo Gatti than Micky Ward. But Bale looks like he has taken his game to another level yet again as Ward’s half-brother, Dickie Eklund. I can’t wait to see it.
There is a new web series about regular guys trying to make a go of being amateur fighters called “White Collar Brawler,” produced by San Francisco-based new media production company Portal A Interactive. According to the press release, the show is “a documentary web series about two office workers who decide to quit their jobs and train to become amateur boxers. In December, the show will culminate when the pair step in the ring for a fully sanctioned live match against local amateur boxers.”