The Alamo(dome) will be remembered in 2015
2014 was a frustrating year for Mike Battah of Leija Battah Promotions, who thrives on the buzz of big events he helps to promote and market. For Battah, a local businessman who teamed up with a former champion to form this company, it’s a matter of pride to bring his city the most notable events in boxing and create an atmosphere befitting fights of significant magnitude.
But last year, they were relegated to a series of smaller cards featured on FOX Sports 1 and “ShoBox” telecasts.
Battah admitted to UCNLive.com a couple of weeks ago, “You always want to have the biggest and best but I guess I was just having to be patient but it’s necessary for San Antonio to keep their rhythm going, the big fights and the big movement is marketing it correctly and getting the people to the fights. So it was frustrating but we’re starting back up and we want to start strong here.”
Perhaps Leija Battah was a casualty of the turbulence at Golden Boy Promotions last year but as the calendar turns, they retain their strong relationship with Oscar De La Hoya fully in charge. This past Monday night the company staged a Golden Boy show from the Cowboys Dance Hall that featured a bout between Robinson Castellanos and Rocky Juarez. Battah says in 2015, “We’ll probably do about 12 fights, three rather large fights and the rest will be maybe FOX [Sports] or ShoBox, HBO Latino.”
On March 12 from the Freeman Coliseum, there is an HBO Latino broadcast featuring Francisco Vargas-Will Tomlinson and Antonio Orozco-Emnanuel Taylor.
If you look at the overall landscape of the boxing business in North America, along with the likes of Los Angeles, New York, Montreal and Omaha (anchored by Terence Crawford), it’s clear that San Antonio is one of the more vibrant markets that does not rely on casinos. “If the fights price right, we’re the right location,” states Battah, who is steadfast in his belief that more marquee events needs to come to this jurisdiction.
Texas is the largest state in the union; San Antonio’s one of it’s largest cities and as Battah points out, “It’s a big Hispanic market and what’s the biggest boxing market? It’s Hispanic.”
A couple of years ago as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez faced Austin Trout at the Alamodome, it drew nearly 40,000 patrons. But that figure didn’t satisfy the ambitious Battah, who stated, “It was 38,000 because we couldn’t go bigger because we formatted the floor plan for 28,000, originally. We had to expand and I purchased extra seating for $400,000 to build it out more and to get it to 38,000.
“They give us the opportunity; again, we’re going to open it up.
Speaking of which, Alvarez is slated to face James Kirkland sometime in May. There’s a very good chance this match-up could be held in the very same venue and Battah is bold in his projections. “I want to reach to fill the whole thing up, 67,000, I think. You can fit 11,000 on the floor.” Back in 1993, the fight between Pernell Whitaker and Julio Cesar Chavez drew 63,500 at the Alamodome.
Unlike many casino venues, the general public actually has a fair chance to get the tickets they want and they are usually priced much more affordably. The recent heavyweight title fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas between Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne was “papered” throughout the arena. Battah points out that ringside seats for that event were $500, “That’s a little high.”
Alvarez-Trout was able to draw as well as it did in large part because tickets were priced as low as $10. Yes, Battah believes in working in volume and not being exclusionary.
“If my cost to promote the fight is low, then I want to keep the tickets prices low.”
Word throughout the industry is that Andre Ward, free from Goossen Promotions and with a newly-minted promotional pact with Roc Nation Sports, is now in conflict with HBO over his next fight on the network. While Ward wants a tune-up fight after this protracted layoff (he last performed in November of 2013 against Edwin Rodriguez), HBO doesn’t want to spend a pretty penny on that type of fight.
The reality is that in this current marketplace HBO can’t afford to spend lavishly on those type of bouts. To put this all into perspective, Ward received $2 million to face Rodriguez – and there’s also this factor: When Ward downed Chad Dawson in September of 2012, he was the apple of the network’s eye. He was poised to be their next Roy Jones and the network’s flagship for years to come. Fast forward to 2015; during his own self-inflicted sabbatical, Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev and Terence Crawford have risen to prominence and are clearly the pillars of HBO’s boxing program. Then you have the return of one Canelo and Wladimir Klitschko along Golden Boy Promotions reestablishing its ties to the network.
Ward’s representatives reached out to Showtime to gauge their interest, only to get a tepid response.
Here’s the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabriel Montoya and Yours Truly:
Cameron Dunkin says he has signed lightweight contender Ray Beltran to a managerial contract…The March 13 edition of ShoBox will feature young middleweight Antoine Douglas…Jose Ramirez will headline the May 9 “Solo Boxeo” card at the Selland Arena (where he is already a huge draw) in his hometown of Fresno…Speaking of San Antonio, Tom “K2” Loeffler says Gennady Golovkin is a definite possibility for a future date there…Still no official venue for the March 13 card that will be televised on Spike TV…With basically not saying anything at all, Marshawn Lynch is the biggest personality of the Super Bowl…RIP Cedric Kushner…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at http://twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at http://instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at www.tsu.co/steveucnlive.