Greg Cohen jumps into the fray
If you haven’t noticed yet, in 2015, there is an awful lot of boxing on television with various networks securing deals/time-buys with different entities. Now, it’s Greg Cohen Promotions’ turn to jump into the fray as they kick off their series on CBS Sports Network Friday evening (10 p.m. ET) from the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota with a card headlined by Dennis Hogan versus Tyrone Brunson.
(Full disclosure: Yours Truly will be part of that broadcast crew – so view/listen at your own peril.)
You’d be hard-pressed to recall an era in which there was so much boxing available over the airwaves.
“I think it’s terrific that there’s more boxing on television,” said Cohen, last week to UCNLive.com. “I’m 46 years old and I can’t remember seeing so much boxing on television in my entire life than there is now. I think it’s terrific for the fans. As a promoter, I think it’s great to be able to showcase my fighters to get the type of television exposure that they need to become better known and household names. The more fights that are on television, the better it is for people in the business and it’s better for the fans.”
With Al Haymon gobbling up one network after another in 2015, promoters are scrambling for outlets to feature their content. “I’m definitely pleased GCP has at least a piece of real estate and that our fighters are going to have the opportunity to fight consistently on television and not many promoters outside of the Al Haymon group are able to say that,” said Cohen, whose next two dates on CBS Sports Network take place on June 18 and June 26.
The deal with GCP and CBS Sports Network is a time-buy. Cohen says he had been working on securing this deal for about a year-and-a-half and given, he wasn’t at Top Rank Promotions or Golden Boy Promotions, he needed to find a way to get television dates one way or the other.
“100 percent. Look, I’m was fortunate enough every once in awhile and maybe I’d get one-to-three ESPN shows a year, partner up with another promoter to get a couple of dates here and there on ESPN. I was fortunate to receive a couple of ‘ShoBox’ shows a year the past few years but it’s really hard to keep a stable of fighters busy and get them the proper exposure if you’re only getting two dates here, a date there. It’s very hard to plan,” he explained.
“I made a decision then. Look, I’m all-in. This is what I do for a living. I need to create my own platform and have my own outlet for my fighters and that’s what led me to go down this path,” said Cohen, who created “strategic partnerships” with the likes of GH3 Promotions and Fight Card Promotions to gear up for this series. “Because to put on 15, 20 cards over the next year on CBS, you can’t do it alone. You can’t do it with just GCP fighters – I want to go outside of our stable of boxers. I want to keep it competitive, keep it fresh.”
As for the quality of fights, Cohen says he will be consulting with the network regarding quality control.
“I would say this: It’s going to be similar to ESPN-type fights, ShoBox fights and what were talking about is very high-quality contenders in competitive match-ups and guys who are either right on the cusp of fighting for world titles or guys who have already fought for world title who are working their way back. We’re looking to deliver high-level product. We certainly don’t have seven-figure, eight-figure budgets to put on our shows,” said Cohen, who, for years, worked with the late Cedric Kushner. “We do have six-figure budgets to put on our shows and I think that’s what’s most important – we’re going to put on competitive match-ups.”
The goal with this series for Cohen is to develop more boxers like Austin Trout, who GCP nurtured into a major beltholder who eventually parlayed that into lucrative bouts versus the likes of Saul Alvarez and Miguel Cotto.
The boxing business is changing; no doubt about it. And those who have been entrenched for years are finding themselves needing to adapt in this new paradigm that currently exists.
“Right now is a very, very interesting time in this industry,” agreed Cohen, a veteran of this sport. “It forces all the promoters to roll up their sleeves and get to work. You’re going to have to make good site deals; you’re going to have to have strong partners in your site and, also, you’re going to have to make with sponsors. You don’t do that – it makes it financially impossible to put on these shows.
“And I think there a lot of promoters who relied on getting a handful of ESPN dates a year, getting their rights fees, get a site fee, put on their shows and moved their fighter, either make a few dollars or lose a few dollars but get guys in position to hopefully graduate to premium cable and world title opportunities if they don’t have the wherewithal to create their own platform.
“I think they’re going to have to fold up their tent or you’re going to see a lot of consolidation in the industry.”
It’s been officially announced that Amir Khan will face Chris Algieri on May 29 on Spike TV. Then the following week on June 6, middleweight champ Miguel Cotto will take on Daniel Geale.
What’s interesting is that both events will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. I can’t recall the last time that any non-casino venue (or any building for that matter) had boxing cards on consecutive weekends. Usually arenas try to stay away from having too many events of the same nature clumped so close for fear of cannibalizing one another.
Then on June 13, Top Rank has a hold on the Theater at Madison Square Garden during the Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend for the coming-out-party of one Felix Verdejo (and, most likely, the 2015 debut of Nicholas Walters). Lou DiBella also has a hold on the Barclays Center for June 20 but there is a strong likelihood he moves off that date or to another destination altogether.
Regardless, that’s a lot of boxing in the Big Apple.
THE 3 KNOCKDOWN RULE
AEG/StubHub Center is still doing everything short of offering limo rides and free bottle service ringside to get people to the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Andrzej Fonfara fight on Saturday night…Adrien Broner-Rances Barthelemy? Yeah, I’ll pass on that one…Lotsa rumors regarding a fight between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter. Now that would be a good one…The Aaron Hernandez saga will one day make for a great “30 for 30” on ESPN…The NBA MVP has to be Stephen Curry, right?…And yes, I will be in (My) Verona this Saturday night for Ruslan Provodnikov-Lucas Matthysse. See you then…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.