Brian Ceballo set to make professional debut on March 27
After well over 20-plus years in the boxing business, which includes managing fighters and being the Managing Director of K2 Promotions, 2018 is a special year for Tom Loeffler, as it marks the start of his own company 360 Promotions.
On the day of the weigh-in of 360 Promotions’ first official card – “SuperFly 2” – Loeffler formally made a couple of big announcements regarding his new company, the signing of its first fighter under contract, Brian Ceballo, and the date of his pro debut, March 27, on the premiere of a club show series named “Hollywood Fight Nights.”
“We’ll announce what platform it’s going to be on,” Loeffler told UCNLive.com. “Whether it’s television or a streaming platform, there will definitely be a way to watch. We’re going to get as big a platform as possible.”
Taking place at The Avalon Theater in the heart of Hollywood, California, the series will take place on Tuesday nights – just one of the few things Loeffler hopes can separate his company from the rest – and in two weeks, he will get to see the face of his new franchise fight live for the first time. “I haven’t seen him fight live,” Loeffler said about Ceballo, “but I saw tapes of him and, meeting him in person, he’s got a great personality; he’s got a great smile and, everything that I’ve seen from his tapes, he can fight. He’s very marketable. He has a great backstory, where his parents are Dominican; he was born in Puerto Rico and he grew up in Brooklyn, New York. I think we can really do something with Brian. I see a big future for him.”
Of course, Loeffler’s eye for talent found an unknown Kazakhstani middleweight fighting in Germany and turn him into the Gennady “GGG” Golovkin everyone knows today in the United States. What Loeffler was able to do with Golovkin is an unprecedented feat, when compared to the many failed careers of Eastern Bloc fighters coming to the States. Loeffler’s promotional and marketing genius makes his new venture an interesting one and, even if you’ve never heard of his new signee, Tom’s eye is worth trusting.
“As you know, I think the world of Tom,” said Ceballo’s manager, Tim VanNewhouse, who’s aligned himself with David McWater’s Split-T Management. “We share similar visions on how to develop a fighter and we work well together. (Loeffler) has a great staff and I see a big future for his new company.
“I’ve been targeting a few kids that would be a good fit for my growing portfolio of fighters at Split-T Management and 360 Promotions,” said VanNewhouse. “(Ceballo) built up a great relationship with our CEO David McWater, who did most of the work getting Brian to sign with us. Once Dave got the managerial agreement all in line, I knew right away we needed to broker a deal with Tom. Brian has the whole package to be that crossover star. He’s bilingual, has an outstanding amateur background, a good pro style and, personally, he’s a gentleman outside of the ring. I’m really excited to be working such a great group of guys and I know we will get Brian, as far as he can possibly go within the sport.”
Ceballo, 23, walked into the meeting with major boxing reporters, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and dressed to the nines in a suit fit for an introduction. Afterward Ceballo had a conversation with UCNLive.com in a more relaxed setting.
Michael Baca II: It’s a loaded question, but why did you decide to become a fighter?
Brian Ceballo: I don’t think there’s a short explanation to it but, ever since I started, all my parents and I wanted to do is go to the Olympics and win a gold medal. Basically I failed to accomplish that. I told myself, you love this; you’re good at it, so why not continue to do it? I would like to be one of the best more than anything. That’s my goal and my dream: To build a legacy.
MB2: Do you remember the moment when you figured out that you are good at this, and better than most?
BC: It wasn’t until recently, actually. Maybe like a year or two ago. I was always good, was always winning a whole bunch of national tournaments. Over time, I started getting more confidence in myself. People put in my head not to be cocky, or not to be arrogant, and I kind of mistaken that. Where’s the line of cockiness and where’s the line of confidence? I think a lot of athletes struggle with that. Having confidence – people may call it arrogance but it’s not – it took me a little while to understand that.
MB2: Where did it all start?
BC: I actually started at a local club in Sunset Park, when I was seven. Then I moved to downtown Brooklyn and, a year later, went to Gleason’s Gym.
MB2: You were raised in Brooklyn, New York, but, as I understand it, you were born in Puerto Rico?
BC: I came here right before turning three, from Puerto Rico. My parents sent me to the Dominican Republic for them to get situated in the U.S., then they had me flown to the U.S.
MB2: You have an extensive amateur background and a final record of 206-13 but fell short in making the Olympics. What happened?
BC: Originally I was aiming for the London (Summer Olympic) Games (in 2012). I was really young. I was coming off of the Junior Olympics and winning literally every single tournament as a junior. I was ranked number one as a junior. My first elite national tournament was in the National Golden Gloves, after I won the New York Daily News Golden Gloves at Madison Square Garden. I was winning every single fight 5-0 but then I lost in the semis, which was my qualifier for the Olympic Trials. I lost a split decision to Michael Reed. I was super-hurt. I took maybe about two weeks off. They had a last-chance qualifier, so I went to that but I was out of shape. I went in at 152; I lost, then I just continued training. I went up to 152 for the National PALs, as well. I did really good in that tournament but lost to Sammy Vasquez in the finals. Lost by two points. I just kept fighting, then I won the 2012 Daily News Golden Gloves. After that, I basically I started dying down from boxing a little bit because I was so disappointed that I didn’t make the Olympic team. Graduated high school in 2012, then I went to an audio engineering school and stopped boxing for about 10 months. December of 2013, I stepped back into the ring. I trained for a whole month and lost 26 pounds.
MB2: You entered the World Series of Boxing in 2015 but skipped turning pro officially for another shot at the Olympics, correct?
BC: Yeah. I qualified for the Pan-American Games. December of 2015. I got headbutted in the very first round of the very first fight. It was pretty bad, traumatic actually. Top of the forehead. I won the fight; they stitched me up, had to fight the next and won that fight as well. Then I made it to the first finals of the Olympic Trials but the cut started wearing down on me little by little. I lost, then I had a day off, then I lost to the guy who won the entire thing, Paul Crowe. The cut had wore me down mentally and physically. That was the end of my run, unfortunately.
MB2: Surely there had to have been promoters asking you turn professional all these years…
BC: That is true. Many promotional companies have contacted me throughout the years but, the thing was, every time they came to me, I was never ready to turn pro. I was trying to pursue my amateur career and gain more experience. They approached me but I wasn’t interested until recently. I always have an open mind. I listen to everyone. It does not hurt to listen. I kept my eyes open; I kept my mind open, kept good people around me and 360 Promotions came with the best deal. Tom Loeffler is a great guy and I look forward working with him.
MB2: You’re the first signee of 360 Promotions but the track record of Loeffler had to have been the basis of your decision, right?
BC: Yeah, of course. He’s the one that’s going to be running the company. It’s always the people behind the company than the company itself. The financial compensation – even though that was the best package too – just that the whole package altogether was what was intriguing.
MB2: Where will you be training as a pro?
BC: I’m training in the city at the New York Athletic Club. Robert Pagan is my trainer.
MB2: As you approach your pro debut, what kind of fighter would you like to be for fans to latch onto?
BC: Honestly – not trying to put myself on a pedestal or anything – my style of fighting, people have come to like a lot, which I appreciate and I don’t want to change that. If people like it already and it’s working, why change it? I guess to really answer your question, basically the fighter that adapts to whatever style of fighting anyone brings.