Golden Boy Promotions kicks off 2018
This Saturday night, from the Forum, in Inglewood, California, an HBO doubleheader takes place that features WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares versus Mercito Gesta and Lucas Matthysse facing Tewa Kiram for the vacant WBA “regular” welterweight belt. It’s the first card of 2018 for Golden Boy Promotions.
“We just want to build on what we’ve been doing the last three years,” said Eric Gomez, the president of GBP, on the afternoon of January 11, at the Boys and Girls Club of Indio, where a media day was held for Matthysse. “We have a good crop of young kids; we want to get them in position to fight for world titles. So that’s one of our goals for 2018.”
The clean-up hitter for Golden Boy is obviously Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, with Matthysse and Linares being middle-of-the-lineup bats. The key for the company (and any promotional outfit, really) is constantly developing a new generation of boxers.
Also at this media day was super lightweight hopeful Vergil Ortiz, 8-0 (8), who, like Matthysse, is trained by Joel Diaz.
Gomez says, “He’s a kid that we’re excited about. He’s got all he potential in the world and then we have Ryan Garcia, who’s been doing great. So that’s another kid we’re going to get in position but these are the kids we’ve been developing for the last three years and I think this will be a breakout year for all of them.” While he hasn’t created the social media buzz of Ryan Garcia, Ortiz is perhaps the company’s best young prospect.
As its ESPN dates have been laid out for the year, Golden Boy’s young prospects are being slotted. Ortiz is scheduled to face Jesus Rodriguez, on February 22, at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, while Garcia will headline a card in March. Others like Alexis Rocha, Edgar Valerio, Joet Gonzalez and Emilio Sanchez will soon get their assignments.
The emphasis this year is to step them up into “real” fights. “Yes,” said Gomez, “we want them to fight and possibly target fighters who are in the Top 15 in the world and I think they’re ready for it. We want to be able to showcase them now as main event fighters on ESPN and I think they’re ready for that now. For us, it’s important now – and we’ve taken about three years to develop these guys – it’s time to take them for a test drive.”
But while those kids represent the future, Matthysse and Linares are the present and, truth be told, this card has struggled mightily at the box-office, despite tickets being priced as low as $10. The bottom line is while this duo is certainly accomplished, their opponents don’t move the needle. It’s clear that, unlike, say, an Alvarez, who can draw tens of thousands against nondescript foes, most fighters still need a certain caliber of dance partner.
The pressing question for the boxing business in 2018 is: Can the various factions in boxing – which are so often times fractured – come together to make the fights the public yearns for? Can a bout between, say, Linares and WBO junior lightweight titlist, Top Rank’s Vasyl Lomachenko come to fruition, despite all the hurdles that exist?
Is Golden Boy willing to reach across the aisle to cut deals like a Tip O’Neill?
“I, Oscar (De La Hoya), everybody at Golden Boy, this is Oscar’s thing. He’s been promoting that – let the best fight the best and we’ll work with everybody. We’ll work with anybody,” stated Gomez. “So we want to make the best fights for the fans. So if there’s certain fights that fans want to see, we’re going to explore them. We’re going to try to make them. We have no problem working with anybody.”
So is the sport actually more divided than ever?
When asked that question, Gomez answered, “Well, I think that a company like Top Rank, they’re exclusive now with ESPN. So that limits them and their fighters and I think that’s why there’s probably a perception that it’s divided. But look, there’s no problem; we can still do business with Top Rank. We can still find ways to make fights.
”We’re willing to work with anybody and we’ll open the doors and we’ll make the fights our fighters want and the fans want to see. As far as us, we’re going to do our part to keep the big fights in play for this year.”
Coming into this past weekend’s match-up between IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. and Lamont Peterson, I wrote that it wasn’t going to be so much if Spence won but how and Spence won impressively by dispatching Peterson in seven rounds.
There is a stylish ruthlessness to Spence’s attack and he has a two-handed buzzsaw, from the southpaw stance. Every punch is thrown with purpose and accuracy and he has a certain poise inside the ring. At 28 years old, this Texan is right in the thick of his physical prime.
The question now is just who will face him? WBA/WBC titlist Keith Thurman seems – shall we say – a tad reluctant to get in there with the southpaw this year, while many fans are projecting ahead and salivating over a match-up with undefeated former two-division champion Terence Crawford. However that fight faces significant hurdles (again, that whole issue of Top Rank/ESPN and Premier Boxing Champions/Showtime) and Crawford is slated to face WBO welterweight beltholder Jeff Horn in April. The earliest that bout can possibly happen is probably some time in 2019.
Regardless Spence is here to stay for awhile.
Good call by trainer Barry Hunter to pull the plug on Peterson when he did…Thought IBF lightweight titlist Robert Easter Jr. was fortunate to get the decision against Javier Fortuna but I don’t have much sympathy for Fortuna, as he didn’t make the 135-pound limit…Don’t ever count Tom Brady out…So are the Philadelphia Eagles “America’s Team” for the next two weeks?…The Lakers are showing some signs of life recently…”The Chi” on Showtime is very good…How bout that Nick Foles?…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.