Golden Boy Promotions scrambles to salvage Cinco De Mayo Weekend at StubHub Center
Golden Boy Promotions President Eric Gomez admits that the cancellation of the rematch between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, originally scheduled for May 5, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, was a significant blow to the company.
Beyond the bottom line, they also had a multitude of boxers who were slotted to fight that weekend (as they had an ESPN date for the night before) who needed to be rescheduled. Chief among them was their most heavily-hyped prospect, undefeated junior lightweight Ryan Garcia, who was to have gotten a coveted slot on that pay-per-view card.
“But what I told my team is, ‘Look, let’s do what we do best. Let’s work; let’s see what we can come up with. Let’s do something different,'” said Gomez, on their contingency plans for this particular weekend.
Garcia, who was suddenly left without a fight for this date said, “I was pissed. I was mad. I was furious because I knew that would’ve been a great opportunity and I know that I don’t fall short to pressure, so I knew that if I had that opportunity, that I’d so something amazing on that card and I didn’t get my chance to. Things happened; you know what went down.”
The decision was made to not go dark this weekend by GBP and they are staging a card this Friday night at the StubHub Center, where Garcia faces his toughest professional challenge in Jayson Velez.
“We came up with the idea of, ‘Let’s go hard May 4th. Let’s do something big on May 4th. Let’s do a souped-up ESPN show where people are going to get excited.’ We have Ryan Garcia, who people are really excited about. He’s been making a name for himself and let’s put him to a test. Let’s put him in a good fight and see if we can do it at the StubHub and it’s been incredible,” said Gomez, who said, on Tuesday, that 90 percent of the tickets had been sold and that more sections of the tennis stadium would be opened up.
“They just offered me a couple of opportunities and, of course, I got happy when they said the main event at the StubHub Center. So I was like, ‘Y’ know what? Let’s do it. Let’s do that,'” said Garcia last week at Legendz Boxing in Norwalk, California, where a media day was held for him.
It’s clear that “KingRy” is a top priority with the company. Not many 19-year-old boxers are thrust into a position of headlining at this building, which many consider the hub of West Coast boxing. “It makes me feel great. It makes me feel that all my hard work is appreciated and I’m doing something right. I don’t know what it is but we’re doing it right,” said the precocious Garcia.
A few weeks ago, in the immediate aftermath of Alvarez, withdrawing from the rematch – as he was ultimately suspended six months by the Nevada Athletic Commission for testing positive for clenbuterol – Golden Boy was hesitant to pull the trigger on this date at the StubHub Center, as there was talk that Golovkin would perform there on May 5. Golden Boy decided to make the first move and booked Garcia and middleweight contender Spike O’Sullivan for this Friday evening.
Gomez explained, “We wanted to grab the bull by the horns and we said, ‘Y’ know what? We’re willing to take that gamble with Ryan Garcia. Ryan Garcia fighting in a really good fight or Golovkin in a tune-up-type fight because we didn’t know the opponent at the time. So I said, ‘They don’t have an opponent yet. They only have two weeks to promote. Let’s go for it. Let’s do it.’
“(Golden Boy founder) Oscar (De La Hoya) was all-in; I was all-in. We said, ‘Let’s do it,’ so we went for it and it’s paid off. The response has been incredible. I wouldn’t surprised if it sells out.”
Gomez isn’t just the president of GBP; he’s also one of the “Golden Boy’s” best friends. And in Garcia, well, he sees a lot of De La Hoya – the charisma and the appeal to the ladies. Say what you want about him but he is creating a legitimate buzz.
“It’s incredible; Oscar was ‘Oscarmania.’ He was catapulted after the (1992) Olympics, with the gold medal. It was incredible.Those were some great days – it seems like it was just yesterday; it went so fast,” said Gomez, chuckling. “But Ryan has that same thing; it’s almost like following in the same footsteps with the popularity.” While Oscar had the amateur pedigree and the gold medal, Garcia has utilized social media as well as any young boxers to cultivate his following. But the question is, while there is certainly short-term sizzle to him, is this really long-term filet mignon?
“I mean, there have been other fighters that I’ve seen and I said, ‘OK, this guy has a style kinda like Oscar. He can potentially be like an Oscar’ or there have been other fighters, for instance, Frankie Gomez, that came out of East L.A. and I said, ‘OK, this guy could potentially be something.’ Francisco Bojado, but we all know what happened to them.
“That’s my biggest fear with Ryan,” continued Gomez. “He’s a smart kid and I think he has his head on straight. We’re going to do our part in getting him the right fights, build him up into becoming a champion for a long time.”
But part of their job is to pump the brakes, at times. While Garcia is openly calling out Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Gomez and GBP matchmaker Roberto Diaz’s job is to show more discretion than valor.
“This kid is a lion; he wants to fight anyone, anywhere, at any time. We love that about him,” said Gomez, who was once a matchmaker himself. “Don Chargin once told me – who’s my teacher – ‘Eric, you’re going to have great prospects – you have to learn how to save them from themselves.’ It’s good that they want to fight everybody. That’s a great attribute but we have to do our part to kind of like hold them back and put them in at the right time.”
There really should be no rush, given Garcia’s age.
“It’s all timing,” said Gomez, who mentioned that Garcia could fight three or four more times in 2018. “With boxing, it’s all timing. I think, eventually, all those fights are going to come but Ryan’s going to be ready.”
Nobody can bring out the trolls (and teenage girls) on social media quite like Garcia does on Twitter and Instagram. It’s actually quite entertaining to see some of the stuff he gets and even Garcia is now amused by the reactions he causes.
He said laughing, “I usually like ignore it but now it’s just funny, sometimes just going back at them because they get even more mad. I’ll say one thing and I’ll just leave it. But it’s fun; I enjoy it. I enjoy it all, the negative, the positive. It’s just fun.”
If you want to hear more from Ryan Garcia, tune in to this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and me.
Tickets for tonight’s event are priced at $75, $50, $25 and $10…Both Garcia and Velez originally came in over the 130-pound weight limit but, not too long after, stepped back onto the scales to make weight on Thursday afternoon…In the spirit of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Terrible Towel,” Gennady Golovkin “Big Drama Towels” will be sold this weekend at the StubHub Center…OK, so can I get a 2-for-1 deal on parking at the StubHub Center this weekend?…LeBron James owns Toronto, every last piece of it…Weather is warming up in Southern California but, again, bring a sweater if you’re going to the fights this weekend…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.