Tying ‘SuperFly’ together
This Saturday night, from the StubHub Center in Carson, California, one of the most anticipated cards of the year takes place, featuring a trio of bouts in the 115-pound division. It’s headlined by the rematch between WBC titlist Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, who participated in of the best fights of 2017 last March at the Madison Square Garden.
This HBO telecast (10:15 p.m. ET/PT) also features the all-Mexican grudge match between Carlos Cuadras and Juan Francisco Estrada, for the right to face the winner of this weekend’s main event. And the highly-touted Naoya Inoue (who holds the WBO belt) makes his American debut against Antonio Nieves.
So just how was all this tied together?
Tom Loeffler, the managing director of K2 Promotions, the lead on this event, explained to UCNLive.com, “This came to fruition when Chocolatito had such a tremendous fight with Sor Rungvisai. It’s one of the leading candidates for ‘Fight of the Year’ and it was such a great reaction and Chocolatito got dropped in the first round and came back and most of the fans thought that he had won the fight. Then the WBC issued the order for an immediate rematch and Rungvisai wants to prove that it wasn’t a fluke, that he’s really a true champion and Chocolatito wants to prove that he can come back and win his title back.”
Their first meeting took place on the Gennady Golovkin-Danny Jacobs undercard and, in the aftermath of that controversial decision – which gave Gonzalez his first career blemish – the WBC called for a return bout.
“Once the WBC mandated that, I went to Peter Nelson (the head of HBO Sports) and said, ‘We need an HBO date for this,’ because it was one of the best fights of the year. So we got the date right before the (Gennady) ‘Triple G’ (Golovkin) fight (versus Saul Alvarez) and then, once we had the main event set, Peter wanted to give Inoue exposure here in the U.S. on HBO,” explained Loeffler. “We were able to make that fight with Antonio Nieves, who’s rated in the Top 10 of the WBO and is from Cleveland, Ohio. He has a huge opportunity in front of him.”
For Loeffler, his aim was to make this show a rare tripleheader on the network.
“Since Cuadras wasn’t able to get the mandatory fight, the WBC ordered Cuadras to fight Estrada in an eliminator, so that the winners of Cuadras-Estrada will get the winner of Chocolatito-Sor Rungvisai. So it’s really a tremendous show,” stated Loeffler.
(So yeah…once again…#BeltsMatter.)
Loeffler continued, “I’ve got to give all the promoters credit, starting with Mr. (Akihiko) Honda and Teiken (Promotions) and also the promoter for Sor Rungvisai from Thailand. They both wanted the rematch. They understood this is headlining HBO. It’s a huge opportunity for them and then it went down the list. Mr. Honda put the deal together for Inoue. I reached out to Tim VanNewhouse, who’s involved on the management side with Nieves and we were able to put that deal together with Salita Promotions.
“Then with Cuadras and Estrada, I have a good relationship with Zanfer Promotions and Osvaldo Kuchle from Promociones del Pueblo, so we were able to reach a deal for them to fight each other. So it’s six different fighters with six different promoters. I’ve got to give them all credit because without the fighters not wanting to take the risk and without the promoters willing to take the risk also on their side, the fights wouldn’t be able to happen.”
In an era when the boxing business is so fractured, this is a notable achievement to get everyone to the table to break bread together.
When asked which fight was the toughest to make, Loeffler answered, “A lot of people didn’t want to fight Inoue for his first fight on HBO. We didn’t have a huge budget and he’s got that reputation very similar to when we were making fights for Triple G, when we were first starting out here in the U.S. on HBO. HBO didn’t have a huge budget for us and Inoue’s reputation being nicknamed “The Monster,” with that tremendous knockout power, so that one was challenging, to find an opponent that was willing to step up and take the risk and I give Nieves a lot of credit.”
And there were conflicting television rights that were problematic with the fight featuring the two Mexicans.
“Cuadras-Estrada, that’s always challenging because Cuadras is with Televisa, Estrada with Zanfer and TV Azteca and so the Mexican TV rights, sometimes they get more complicated than the U.S. TV rights. We were able to navigate that with the help of both sides,” explained Loeffler. Both Mexican networks will be broadcasting the fights on Saturday night. (You see that HBO and Showtime?)
A media workout was held on Wednesday and the final presser for this promotion is Thursday and the weigh-in will be open to the public at the StubHub Center concourse on Friday afternoon (with the gates opening at noon).
Then there’s the card on Saturday night.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any losers because we can match them up just as easily,” said Loeffler, who envisions a series of fights between the participants. “This has so much talent on the show that I can see two or three HBO shows coming from those six fighters that are participating on the ‘SuperFly’ show.”
THE BOXING HUB
There really was no other venue for a card of this nature than the tennis court in Carson, which took the intervention of the higher-ups at AEG to sort out a scheduling snafu.
But if this didn’t land at the StubHub Center, where would this card have taken place?
“This would’ve landed in Las Vegas. They were very interested,” said Loeffler, who will be spending next week in the 702, when Golovkin takes on Alvarez at the T-Mobile Arena on September 16. “The MGM was very interested in having this fight come up there. This is really the prelude to Canelo-Triple G, so they looked at it as a great opportunity for people to come to Vegas and really stay all week.”
(OK, ever heard of too much of a good thing? Anyhoo…)
“But with the fans’ reaction I could really tell they wanted the fight here at StubHub. These ticket sales have exceeded what Chocolatito did last year when he headlined against Cuadras. You see his star is rising,” said Loeffler, referring to last year’s event at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
“I just think the timing being in September, being outdoors and having so many quality fighters on the show, I think the fans are really reacting well to it. I really think this is the right location. It would’ve been easy to go to Mandalay Bay or to the MGM in the ballroom but this seems to be the right venue and that’s why we pushed so hard to clear the date with Dan Beckerman and AEG for September 9th,” said Loeffler, who notes Mr. Golovkin will be in attendance on Saturday.
Loeffler notes that Golovkin gear (hats, T-shirts, etc.) will be sold at the StubHub Center on Saturday…As for the Jordan Brand “GGG” line, well, it looks like most of it sold out on the first day it was available on Nike.com…Loeffler says they are scrambling to produce more items…There’s an incredible slate of college football games on this weekend…Once again, Mother Nature is undefeated and will remain so…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.