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Boxing Perspective: British Fighters Turning Promoter

When Oscar De La Hoya walked away from the sport of boxing in April, 2009, he only walked away as a fighter, and in doing so left his own individual legacy he had forged over 17 years.

17 world champions had fallen before him, he had won 10 world titles in six different weight classes and had earned a huge – and I mean astronomical – amount of money; pay per view alone figures are reportedly estimated around $696 million.

Yes, it is safe to say that Oscar did all right for himself; in fact, it is fair to say he has probably generated more money than any other boxer in the history of the sport.

With the Golden Boy name still ringing out after all these years, we still think of Oscar whenever we hear it.

When you hear it now though, it could be because you are watching one of the fighters Golden Boy owns, from the super famous and well respected i.e. Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez; to the up and coming prospects i.e. Victor Ortiz, Danny Garcia or Erislandy Lara.

It could be because you are sat at a MMA event that Golden Boy collaborated on, or an article you might be reading in The Ring magazine or one of the many publications that Golden Boy own.

What Oscar has done has transcended way beyond the realms of boxer turned promoter. At one point, he was boxer and promoter, for his own fights, which always stuck me as humorous as no one stepped forward during the Oscar vs. Manny Pacquiao fight to stop it…well, that was everyone’s boss in there…would you have wanted to?

Golden Boy has done phenomenally well since it was first started, and you have to assume that a great deal of business has been done off the name alone, which is an easy thing for De La Hoya to do as his name and profile, as it were, were already set up, bringing other top name fighters in and making them partners is also a clever move.

Following in De La Hoya’s footsteps are three British fighters who have made good names for themselves and are attempting to do the same by starting their own promotional companies.

Firstly, David Haye with Hayemaker Promotions and his partner/trainer Adam Booth.

Now, Hayemaker Promotions have a good, well known name among the public, with Haye being in the headlines recently for his shenanigans with the Klitschko brothers.

As a promotional company, Hayemaker have staged five shows so far, they have a good stable of fighters with Michael MacGuire, Josh Wale, Joe McNally, John Watson, former WBU champ Derry Matthews, David Price, George Groves and WBC International champion Ryan Rhodes, who will be looking to fight for Jamie Moore’s European title this October.

So, they have a good lot of fighters, an excellent trainer in Dave Coldwell from the Ingle camp, and are already underway with their promotional work.

Having watched their fight cards, I can safely say they do a good job as the contests are generally the result of very good matchmaking and good house fighters.

I can see a mouth watering domestic match up between Groves and Olympic hero James De Gale in the not too distant future as there is no love lost there from the amateurs.

And to make it even more unbiased, Hayemaker have always matched their fighters well. Case in point is Matthews having had some bad luck recently losing his last three by stoppage. Given that he is a Hayemaker house fighter, it shows that Booth and Haye are not giving their fighters easy roads to go down…which is good.

Haye had his ‘Golden Boy’ moment on the Hayemaker 2 show, fighting Monte ‘Two Gunz’ Barrett and promoting the show himself. Haye made Barrett taste the canvas four times before stopping the American in the fifth.

On his own journey to heavyweight glory and the Klitschkos, Haye did have some problems with ‘injuries’ not so long ago and then had difficulties over the TV company they had signed contracts with.

The same TV company that then subsequently went bust; was coincidence that Haye and Rhodes both pull out of fights weeks before the broadcaster shut down?

Either way, Haye is still chasing the heavyweight dream and if he can do it the long hard way, via beating Nikolay Valuev, getting the ‘Beast from the East’s title and working his way into getting another shot at either of the Klitschkos, he can make a massive amount of money and the publicity would be through the roof.

Haye and Booth will continue as they have been doing and it’s expected of them to be in the thick of it for a long time.

Ricky Hatton has started his fledgling company, aptly named Hatton Promotions, earlier this year. Hatton is running the show but has bought in former women’s champion Jane Couch as Boxing Co-ordinator.

Hatton is currently converting an old printers into a gym, has just signed a lucrative TV deal with Sky Sports for eight dates, with signings like Olympian and world Bronze medallist Joe Murray on board, and Danny Butler, Former ABA champion Matthew Askin, as well as new signings Mark Thompson and Scott Quigg, Hatton has talent on board and is shaping these lads up for domestic battles shortly.

The confusion here lies in whether Hatton will return to the ring as a fighter, which he probably will but he is not at the same peak like Haye for example, who is on the way up whereas Hatton is on his way out.

Undeniably, the Hatton name is the strongest here though, with the entire nation wanting him to succeed in whatever he does, as I mentioned in one of my previous articles, he is our Golden Boy.

With that behind him, I think he will be a powerful force as a promoter within the boxing world, as he has always been as a fighter.

Joe Calzaghe is again a well-recognised name, not as renowned as Hatton’s, but more so than Haye’s. Again with the very original name of Calzaghe Promotions.

Joe went into the promotion business with his career long trainer, and father, Enzo Calzaghe, and having so far only put on the one show, in South Wales, where Joe admittedly has his home fan base.

However, they start with some good fighters having already signed up such as former WBA light welterweight champ Gavin Rees, and former Commonwealth titlist Bradley Pryce at light middle, who wants another crack at Anthony Small, having beaten him once already.

Joe’s ventures probably won’t be as profitable as the others, as Haye is still fighting on some of his shows, and Hatton is just a bigger draw worldwide, but Calzaghe has always maintained, as have the others to their credit, that it has very little to do with the money.

These guys have made a fair amount in the ring over the years, and the fact that all three of them have said they wanted to change the way fighters are handled and to put good entertaining, fair match ups on, is refreshing.

There are several successful British promoters who have been in business for a long time now, and probably have mixed feelings about fighters ’doing it for themselves’ as it were!

Frank Warren had recently fallen out with Calzaghe as Joe was setting up his company, although I believe they have settled now.

Warren, obviously the leading promoter in this country, has guided some fantastic fighters into their careers such as Prince Naseem Hamed, Nigel Benn, Hatton, Calzaghe and Amir Khan among others, has made them a good deal of money, and got them good fights.

Mick Hennessy and Frank Maloney are good names as well with the latter formerly being Lennox Lewis promoter for twelve years, and having a good charge of possible world and domestic champions such as Jamie Moore, Ajose Olusegun, Rendall Munroe, Jason Booth and Ian Napa.

Hennessy, having a current WBC champion in Carl Froch, as well as Tyson Fury, Darren Barker, Junior Witter, John Thaxton and John Murray, is still very much in the game, and can still put on good fights, having done incredibly well with Froch in particular.

Barry Hearn has come roaring back into the limelight with the successful ‘Prizefighter’ series and has a raft of good young fighters in his stable such as Paul Appleby and Paul Truscott, among others.

There are quite clearly British Promoters currently running the boxing game in the U.K. and it most certainly is a breath of fresh air to have the fighters try and go it alone.

The fighters know the game from the inside out and perhaps are not so easily swayed by money, as they probably have a love for the sport that we, or anyone else who isn’t a fighter, could never understand and to change the game from the ground up is very interesting indeed.

All power to them, I say!

About Nick Chamberlain

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