UTHW Unedited: Tom Loeffler


UTHW:                                  00:03                     All right. So so tell me how you got into boxing.

Tom Loeffler:                     00:09                     I started in boxing really through a sports memorabilia agency

Tom Loeffler:                     00:15                     Mmm.

Tom Loeffler:                     00:16                     A good friend of mine from high school, Harlan Warner. He had, he was representing some of the biggest athletes, retired athletes in sports. Joe Namath, Sandy Kofax Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the biggest name that he was working with was Muhammad Ali. So through Ali he wanted to sign active fighters and he was a genius with sports memorabilia appearances very creative but really didn’t know much about managing active athletes, especially boxing because boxing is such a niche such a niche sport that you know, dealing with athletic commissions, dealing with promoters, dealing with the sanctioning bodies, ratings, everything like that. So you know, it, it, it was an interesting scenario. You know, just being around all these legends you know, like when Joe and Joe Namath was signing footballs I remember at at the house and he was signing footballs and Harlan was giving the footballs.

Tom Loeffler:                     01:22                     And then I was kind of stacking them. So Joe would throw them to me and I would stack them. So, you know, I can say I was catching footballs from Joe Namath, or we did a deal with Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at the time where you know, the whole thing with the wall coming down, the Berlin wall coming down. And so for charity, we had Reagan sign a baseball, for example, and then we flew to Moscow and had, Gorbachev, it was 3000 pieces, so it was baseballs, it was Time magazine covers it was photos of them together. So that was a very interesting experience for me. With my parents being from Germany. But then flying to Moscow was a, was pretty cool. That was right when at first I’d say where Russia kind of opened up.

Tom Loeffler:                     02:14                     And you know, after, after the Berlin wall came down, it was it was pretty cool being over there and seeing how it was at that time. But you know, transitioning into managing active fighters. I kind of specialized in that because Harlan as I mentioned, he didn’t know that that much about the boxing game, active boxing. So I was dealing with all the athletic commissions, reading the contracts. We did have an attorney in house attorney as well, who was a football agent. We also had some great football names coming into the office. Keyshawn Johnson and Von Parker from the San Diego Chargers. You know, lots of great names, but so I specialized in the boxing side of things. The first boxer that we signed was Kevin Kelly. Kevin Kelly was having challenges with his manager.

Tom Loeffler:                     03:13                     He was mandatory for the WBC. Actually, I think he was actually rated number one across the board for all the sanctioning bodies at that time. I think that was 91 because he had beaten everyone in the featherweight division. But it was one of those classic situations where the champions didn’t want to fight him. So he was mandatory for WBC. They got a couple of extensions and then when we got involved in the picture, we kind of forced, forced the issue of getting him the title fight. He fought in the garden. He was signed to Madison square garden boxing at the time. And he got the title fight. I think we actually did a deal with Main Events because Kevin talked his way onto HBO. Lou DiBella at that time was head of the program in boxing programming.

Tom Loeffler:                     04:08                     And Kevin cornered him at Madison square garden and gave him like balloons with his logo on it, his name on it and pencils and everything like that. And so so Lou agreed because he was such a terrific fighter and he had some great fights against Troy Dorsey and I mean, I can’t, I can’t name them all, but some tremendous fights as he was coming up. And then he fought, I remember if I’d Goyo Vargas on HBO, that was in Reno, Nevada. And the, the interesting thing about Kevin was he’s a featherweight talks well, very marketable, clean-cut, great amateur great amateur, you know, multiple time national champion. He was on the same team, like a Riddick Bowe and the 1988 team, Roy Jones, I think was on that team. But so when Lou agreed to put them on and, and the association with Muhammad Ali also helped with the fighters and HBO because HBO wanted to have some photos or footage or different things from Ali.

Tom Loeffler:                     05:22                     So we were able to use a little bit of leverage to help some of the guys on HBO. And so what happened was they agreed to put on as the co-feature, I think it was Michael Moore was the main event and Kevin was the co-feature. And the Goyo Vargas fight was a tremendous fight. It was a 12 round war and Vargas was tremendous, a champion from Mexico. In fact, he had just won the title. I think this might’ve been his first defense as the mandatory. And and Kevin had this all action fight and then you got to the heavyweight main event. It was a boring fight. I think it was Michael Moore then it did, it happened again where Lennox Lewis was the main event and that was the same thing. I think it was Atlantic city where Kevin was in this tremendous fight, all action fight.

Tom Loeffler:                     06:07                     And then the heavyweight fights naturally aren’t as action-packed. And so the fans kept wanting to see Kevin Kelly. And that’s how he really became a popular fighter on HBO at that time. And if you can imagine at the time being from New York, from Flushing Queens, New York as a WBC featherweight champion, which historically had been ruled by Mexican champions, that weight class a WBC with Mexican champions. Kevin actually won WBC fighter of the year. When he won that title and defended it, he defended it a number of times. But Kevin was the first fighter that we worked with. Then Oba Carr was the second fighter that we signed over from Detroit, Michigan Oba had come up through the Kronk boxing system with Emmanuel Steward and we got Oba a number of title opportunities.

Tom Loeffler:                     07:07                     He was actually the first fighter. He was such a kind of like one of those child prodigies where he was the first fighter that USA boxing signed to a multi-fight contract. So Oba had a great name. He was, I would say Oba was the best fighter that I’ve seen to have never won a world title. He could beat everybody else except when he was coming through the welterweight division. You had, Oscar De La Hoya is a champion. You had Felix Trinidad as a champion and Ike Qurtey as champion those, those three legendary fighters. And I remember being in Mexico down in Monterrey, Mexico. And it was at one of those outdoor events that Chavez was the main event and packed outdoor stadium. We were also working with John David Jackson at the time.

Tom Loeffler:                     08:05                     And John David Jackson fought Jorge Castro on on that show for the WBA junior middleweight championship. But so Oba had dropped a Felix Trinidad in the second round and then Trinidad, came back and stopped him in the seventh round. And and John David fought Castro and that fight probably would’ve been stopped anywhere else. It would have been stopped. But I mean Castro was bleeding out of both eyes cut really bad. He couldn’t see. He kept wiping the blood off on the, on the referee’s long sleeve shirt. And then by the time it ended looked like the referee, it just like killed someone and they had blood just everywhere all over because Castro kept wiping his cuts on the ref every time they would break.

Tom Loeffler:                     08:50                     But I think it was like the seventh or eighth round when John was really putting the beating on. And then he knocked Castro into the ropes and I think that gave John a false sense of security. And he came in because John really wasn’t a big puncher. He was more of a boxer, but he was just tearing up Castro. And he came in and was throwing punches and Castro just like slipped one punch, slipped another and then with his eyes closed through a huge hook and stopped John David. So that was, that was a huge that was that was one of those fights if John David had won that fight and became the champion WBA champion. Then he would’ve gone on, defended that title a few more times. And you see how boxing is.

Tom Loeffler:                     09:38                     It’s like with one punch, then he’s not a champion. And you had to go back to you know, fighting smaller fights and you know, that’s again, that’s really the epitome of how one-punch can change your career. So then with Oba we got him. So, that was Trinidad. Then he fought Ike Quartey he fought Quartey, I believe it was in New York. But he fought Quartey to very close to a decision. I think it might’ve been a split decision. And then I got the Oscar De La Hoya fight. That was the first fight at Mandalay Bay in 1999. And I remember that fight where it was very competitive. It was actually even on rounds, I think through the sixth round. It was even three to three. And Richard Steele was the referee and I remember Eddie Carr Oba’s father and his trainer really wasn’t excited about having Richard as the referee.

Tom Loeffler:                     10:39                     And sure enough in the seventh round Richard took a point away for a headbutt, which was accidental, a clash of heads and then also a low blow, which was on the, on the borderline. So when, with a fighter like Oba, he was a little bit mental in terms of his confidence. So when he got two points taken away and then you could just see him just changing his style and naturally Oscar that bolstered his confidence in Oscar is being the great champion that he is. He finished the fight strong, and I think he stopped Oba in the 11th round. So those were the two fighters, two first fighters who I worked with John David. As I mentioned to you. Shane Mosley was another of the early fighters that we worked with. Shane was one of those also a phenom.

Tom Loeffler:                     11:25                     Shane’s problem was he was so good from the amateurs. All the fighters knew who he was and didn’t want to fight him in the pros unless they were getting paid a lot of money. Shane didn’t have a big TV deal at the time and and none of the promoters didn’t necessarily want to put them on the show cause he wasn’t a big, at that time he wasn’t a big ticket seller or you know, it just wasn’t one of those equations that that added up in terms of the promoters wanted to work with Shane, but they had to pay the opponents so much money that that’s where the equation didn’t didn’t add up. So we got involved with Shane and guaranteed him a world title fight. The guy that nobody wanted to fight guaranteed him a world title fight within a year.

Tom Loeffler:                     12:13                     And because the relationship I had with Cedric Kushner through Kevin Kelly, Kevin had also fought with Cedric Kushner promotions that we got Shane the fight on HBO as well against a Phillip Holiday, the champion, IBF champion from South Africa at 135. And so Shane won the title on HBO. He wasn’t as impressive as we were telling everyone. We said, you know, this is, this is the next phenom. And Shane had, I remember he had stomach issues in, in that fight. And so Lou who was still at HBO said put them on USA boxing. And then he looked spectacular and the next fight on USA boxing and then he was back on HBO. And then the rest is history with Shane. Shane had a really legendary run with HBO, had the two wins over Oscar.

Tom Loeffler:                     13:08                     By that time I wasn’t involved anymore. That was a little bit of a frustrating situation where, you know, you definitely have to have everything in line when you’re working with a fighter because we had all kinds of assurances from Shane. You know, Jack (Jack Mosely Shane’s father) was kind of challenging to work with. That was another reason why some of the promoters didn’t necessarily go in all-in with Shane. And Jack was challenging to work with. And after Shane started making decent money on HBO, Jack thought he didn’t really need us involved anymore. So that was, that was frustrating. And so that’s when it was a lesson where I told the Harland like, this isn’t like the other businesses you’re involved and you can’t do handshake deals. You can’t trust you know, athletes or fighters where, you know, when, when they’re at one point in their career they need you, but then when they’re starting to make money, then they don’t necessarily need you as much anymore.

Tom Loeffler:                     14:06                     And you know, that was a hard lesson to learn. We had a great relationship with Shane. I have a good relationship with Shane now. But we actually wound up going to court and settling. And that’s always an ugly side of things. It’s never a great situation with an athlete. But you know, if you get everything down, done correctly then everything you know I like, I like basing my relationships just on, you know, results and you know, whether it’s the results with Kevin or Oba or Shane you know, more recently the Triple G, results Chocolatito, it’s a really you know, I think it’s, it’s worked out pretty well. And then the Klitschkos it was an interesting story how I met the Klitschko brothers. We were working with Ed Mahome from The Forum from Forum boxing and he was undefeated heavyweight guy that Forum boxing really was promoting pretty well.

Tom Loeffler:                     15:14                     I think he was 25 and [inaudible] with a 23 or 24 knockouts, big puncher. And he was a mandatory for the WBO. And Vitali had just won the WBO title from Herbie Hyde over in England. So I brought a, I brought Ed over to Germany. My parents are from Germany, so I was used to language. I was friends with Vitali’s publicist who later became his manager. And I always tried to be friendly with the opponents and their team. And so Bern at the time, like I said, it was the publicist introduced me to Vitaly. And I had known Bern because he was commentating on TV when Kevin Kelly was fighting, when Lennox Lewis was fighting. And so he had told Vitali I was doing, you know, work with Muhammad Ali. And so through that connection, I invited Vitali to Los Angeles to come to the office sometime and meet Ali.

Tom Loeffler:                     16:11                     And that’s, you know, every boxers idol at the time, and so Vitali sure enough, came to the office about six months later, four or five months later. And we met up, he came to the office, Muhammad took photos and signed an autograph for Vitali. Vitali was the champion at the time, heavyweight champion. So there was a, it was a great connection there. And ever since then we stayed in contact and Vitali got frustrated with his existing promoter, his German promoter at the time. So it was like about four years later where his contract was running out and I said, Vitali you know, you’re the champion. The TV companies want to work with you directly. The arenas want to work with you directly. You know, we should start a promotional company. And that’s when you know, I helped them start K2 promotions over here.

Tom Loeffler:                     17:05                     Our first show was, he fought Lennox Lewis in 2003 at Staples Center. Probably one of the most exciting fights I’ve ever been to, Kevin Kelly versus Naseem Hamed was, that was a tremendous fight. When Kevin was fighting at Madison Square Garden, but Vitali and Lennox Lewis the heavyweight version of it, it was Vitali who was winning the fight. I remember it like yesterday, it was four rounds to two through six rounds. He was winning the fight, but Lennox had opened up, this huge gash over Vitali’s eye under Vitali’s eye on the side of it. His whole eye was really bleeding badly. And Lennox was really getting exhausted through the sixth round. The referee called the doctor in, not to look at the eye because the cutman at the time Joe Souza had stabilized the bleeding, but the tongue had gotten he was telling you had gotten a cut from, there was a huge uppercut that Lennox landed in that, in that sixth round.

Tom Loeffler:                     18:11                     And that’s when I could tell Lennox got mentally frustrated cause he landed the best punch he could land, almost lifted Vitali off the canvas, would have knocked out anyone else. But Vitali or Gennady, those are two guys that probably are the best chins I’ve ever seen in boxing. And when Lennox couldn’t hurt him with that punch and you saw it at the end of the round, he just like collapsed into his corner. He was exhausted. I think mentally he’s like, you know, I can’t hurt this guy. And sure enough, the doctor stopped the fight because of the cut when the referee called them in for the tongue. But I mean, you couldn’t argue the cut was really bad on the eye. I would have in that situation and heavyweight championship fight, Vitali is winning the fight.

Tom Loeffler:                     18:58                     Let it go maybe for one more round. But you know, again, you can’t argue with the doctor. You gotta, you know, be better safe than sorry. Did have a tremendous doctor, Dr. Perlman Hicks, who is a plastic surgeon. Just happened to be at the fight that night with the athletic commission. And I remember we brought him back and I think it was 73 stitches that he put into a Vitali, like three different layers that he stitched up. And then now you can’t even see that there’s a scar. You don’t know which eye it was. So he, he did a tremendous tremendous job.

That night in between 96, I remember I went to the Oakland Olympic trials in 95. We were working with or we were talking to Carlos Navarro, who was a tremendous amateur fighter.

Tom Loeffler:                     19:57                     He was number one at 119 pounds. He moved up to 125 and happened to be Floyd Mayweather was in that division also. He had beaten Floyd before the trials then Floyd wound up beating him at the trials and then they had a box off. And then Floyd won the box off and wound up going to the going to the Olympics. Carlos Navarro was a tremendous fighter. Jose Navarro, who was his brother or is his brother and Jose did go to the Olympics. He was a smaller weight and then Nacho Navarro. Who’s the third brother that didn’t have the same storied amateur career, but he had a lot of grit when he fought professionally. And the reason I mentioned the Navarro story is because Nacho, now his daughter Shantelle is a five time amateur national champion, 15 years old.

Tom Loeffler:                     20:51                     So it’s like the next generation Navarros are coming through and her cousin, Steven Navarro, and David Navarro, they’re all tremendous amateur talents. So thinking you see the next wave of Navarro family coming into the professional ranks you know, pretty soon when they’re you know depending how long they want to stay stay amateur. So that’s, I mean to, to answer your story, that’s how I got started in boxing. First started managing fighters, then we started the promotional company with K2. One of the best things that we did with K2 was we signed Triple G who was also frustrated in Germany. Coincidentally, he had the same German promotional company that the Klitchko brothers had when they got out of their contract. Triple G was able to get out of his contract. He signed with K2. He saw the success that I was having with the brothers, both in Germany and in in the United States.

Tom Loeffler:                     21:53                     We weren’t as logistically involved in the German fights because there was a local German management company that they had there. But all the U S fights K2 organized all the fights and sure enough, we wound up signing Triple G, a tremendous talent. He was training with Abel Sanchez. A lot of people thought I brought him to Abel, but he was training with Abel before I got involved. But I had known Abel for a number of years because Abel actually trained Oba Carr for, I think two or three fights. So I had known Abel over the years and then we kind of like came full circle back and then Abel, was working with Triple G. And then naturally when you’re on the road so much, you develop a close relationship with, with everyone. And Triple G was hard. It was hard to get him an American TV deal.

Tom Loeffler:                     22:47                     You know, I mean, my pitch was, you know, here’s an undefeated WBA middleweight champion from Kazakhstan. He’ll fight anyone. He doesn’t doesn’t really need a lot of money. He just needs television exposure, needs the breakthrough. You know, he had been a mandatory for Felix Sturm for over two years. And I’ve never seen a fighter get so many exceptions from a sanctioning body for a mandatory challenge. I think part of that was in part of Gennady his frustration was that Sturm was with the same promotional company. So that promotional company wasn’t pushing Gennady to beat their star, which Sturm at that time was a much higher profile, especially in Germany. So they kept getting exceptions. And then finally we pressed the WBA where they got one more exception if a Sturm was able to do a unification fight.

Tom Loeffler:                     23:49                     So you know, we were talking to Showtime, we were talking to HBO, Showtime. I had a date. I remember also like yesterday, it was like in January, January we met with both Showtime and HBO gave him the same pitch, you know Showtime, Steven Espinosa looked like we were going to have a show in April that fell through. And then Peter Nelson was pitching or pushing Gennady for HBO. And Carrie Davis had commitments to other fighters and Daniel Geale who was scheduled to fight Pirog, Geale was the IBF champion and Pirog was the WBO champion. They were gonna fight,Geale winds up pulling out of that fight going to Germany because Sturm offered more money to come to Germany than he was going to get to fight on HBO. And plus, you know, Pirog had just knocked out Danny Jacobs.

Tom Loeffler:                     24:51                     So a lot of people didn’t want to fight Pirog. And so he figured, okay, I’ll go to Germany to take my chances there against Sturm who’s not the biggest puncher again versus instead of fighting Pirog on HBO. And that opened the door for us to get Gennady to that Pirog fight. Because, like I said, a lot of people didn’t necessarily want to fight him. And Geale winds up actually beating Sturrm in Germany, getting both titles. The IBF and the WBA title and Gennady was gonna fight. Pirog that was a very unfortunate situation because he could have with that fight, won the WBO championship. And also, even though he didn’t get the Sturm fight, he would’ve gotten the credibility of beating the guy that knocked out Danny Jacobs. Pirog, unfortunately got injured. He had a back injury and actually pulled out of the fight to have never fought again.

Tom Loeffler:                     25:49                    So it must’ve been a serious injury. And then I remember Artie Peloulou had Pirog and was putting that show together. And so he got the completely opposite style from Pirog. He got a southpaw, he got a boxer and Gennady didn’t care who he fought, and his managers didn’t care and Abel didn’t care. So he wound up fighting the European champion Proksa from Poland actually. And Gennady wound up looking spectacular on HBO. Gennady, one of he secrets to Gennady’s success was every time there was a big step up, Gennady always put in a great performance. He knew the pressure was on, whether it was the first time at the Garden, first time on HBO, the first time, you know, wherever he fought. And he put on a tremendous performance and all the HBO subscribers wanted to see him back.

Tom Loeffler:                     26:45                     And that’s how, you know, then he had the Rosado fight, which was a very entertaining fight. And then after Rosado it just kinda like went on from there where you know, he became a star on on HBO. We did a lot of behind the scenes marketing because a lot of people didn’t even know where Kazakhstan was. And Gennady’s English at the time wasn’t so great. So we really had to push quite a bit with sponsors, with appearances. And Gennady was one of those guys that you know, loved the fans, took photos, signed autographs we made special walkouts for them at the Stub-Hub. The first time he fought in the LA area, you know, he was popular in New York. And so then we brought him to Stub-Hub. We didn’t know how it would do, cause some fighters geographically can only sell in one city or one arena or you know, one region.

Tom Loeffler:                     27:34                     And so Gennady made that crossover, that transition of selling out arenas on the East coast. And then, you know, he actually broke the sales record for the Stub-Hub. I mean, there were tremendous fighters that fought at the Stub-Hub. You know, Marquez fought there. Andre Ward fought there. Arthur Abraham, so many great fighters had fought at Stub-Hub and Gennady shattered the record. We actually had to build the first time we ever, they ever built Bleacher seats at the Stub-Hub because we exceeded the capacity. So so he became a bi-coastal star and it helped you know, Abel was here in LA and he spoke Spanish. And so that helped with the Mexican fans. And I remember Max Kellerman, it was after he fought Daniel Geale and Madison Square Garden. It wasn’t scripted. A lot of people thought, you know, like I would tell Gennady what to say, but Gennady

Tom Loeffler:                     28:29                     He’s a very smart individual and tremendous as far as marketing his own career. And M ax Kellerman after he knocked out Daniel Geale, that was in the middle of that 23 knockout streak. And Geale was one of the most impressive knockouts I’ve seen. That’s the one where Gennady got hit with a solid right hand. And at the same time, almost the same time was throwing his right hand and he took Geale’s punch and then landed a split second later and landed his right hand and, and knocked out Geale. And so Max Kellerman said like, you know, during the interview was asking him questions. I said how would you describe your style? And he looked at Abel and he’s like, you know, Mexican style. And so we used that slogan for the fight here at at at StubHub.

Tom Loeffler:                     29:21                     Just by coincidence he was fighting. Well, he was fighting Rubio for a WBC interim title. That’s when that’s when Sergio Martinez was injured and Sergio couldn’t fight say that Rubio win an interim and Gennady fought him and because Rubio was from Mexico named it Mexican style, that promotion. And that was, that’s the one where we set the record for. And like I said, he became a bi-coastal star after that fight. And so then we signed and then we started working.

We didn’t sign, but we started working with Chocolatito. And that was one of my, it’s also one of my proud accomplishments is taking a guy who was really one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world, but just didn’t get the recognition, you know, back then fly weight, super fly weight, you know, really anything under bantamweight, anything under featherweight really wasn’t getting a lot of attention, especially HBO.

Tom Loeffler:                     30:29                     Kevin Kelly was the first featherweight on HBO since Salvador Sanchez. So that shows you, you know, they were focusing on, you know, naturally the heavyweights, the Roy Jones, middleweights, James Toney,welterweights naturally lightweights with Shane Mosley. But they really weren’t under 126. You wouldn’t see anyone on HBO. Uyou did have that great fight at the forum. I remember with Chiquita Gonzales versus Michael Carbajal. So you gotta give HBO credit for,ufor that fight. And this Superfly series that we started with HBO,ureally was kind of like a spin off of that tremendous fight. And,ubecause the guys weren’t really earning a lot of money in that division, it was easy to make the match ups cause they were just hungry. Just like with Gennady, they just wanted to get the exposure. So Chocolatito, who had, you know, had beaten so many guys, so many top guys, he wound up,ugetting the exposure and then everyone’s like, Oh, this is a great fighter.

Tom Loeffler:                     31:32                     And then he like rose to the top of everyone’s pound for pound lists. So you know, between the fights with the Klitschkos, the you know, launching Gennady’s career over here in the United States Chocolatito.

It’s been, you know, getting a Cecilia, Cecilia Braekhus on HBO. That was a big accomplishment because 45 year history and I gave, I got to give Peter credit Peter Nelson credit for having the foresight of putting triple G on when nobody really wanted to put him on because his English wasn’t great. He just they didn’t know that. They’d never seen or knew what to do with a fighter from Kazakhstan. You know, a lot of the fans and a lot of people, HBO didn’t even know where Kazakhstan was. So, you know, that was a challenge and we overcame that.

Tom Loeffler:                     32:25                     And with Chocolatito, like I said, with the lighter divisions, we overcame that. And then with Cecilia, we overcame HBO just not have never having shown a female boxer on their, on their channel. And I ought to give a Peter Nelson credit for all three of those because I can give you an example. When Vladimir Klitschko sold out Madison square garden, he was the main event. And we had Laila Ali on as the co-feature. I did two fights with Laila. I did one fight in Berlin where she was on the Valuev show. It was a big giant. I think it was Ruiz versus Valuev I remember because I was there with Ruiz at the same hotel and his attorney was there smoking cigars in the, in the lobby bar. And you know, his trainer Norman Stone, Stoney Stone was there, so there was a lot of characters over there.

Tom Loeffler:                     33:20                     So I remember doing two fights for Laila and the fight at Madison square garden. It was like a natural, it was a cool feature. Laila Ali, the daughter of the most famous boxer in the world. Laila in her own right was a champion who really showed her boxing skills. This was, you know, in the early days with female boxing and HBO refused to show her fight and, but they wanted to interview her father Muhammad Ali, came to support Layla during her fight. So they wanted to interview Muhammad. And we were like, well, how can you ask for an interview with Muhammad Ali, but you’re not going to show his daughter, Laila Ali. I think they might’ve shown a highlight of her on the, on the channel. I’m not sure. But I remember it was a challenge because to me it was a natural to show Laila’s fight.

Tom Loeffler:                     34:14                     And with HBO, they just, for whatever reason, had a policy that they didn’t, they didn’t show a female boxing. So that’s why the Cecilia Braekhus’s fight on HBO, actually two fights on HBO was such a big deal because,uover 45 years they had never shown a female, a female, a champion. UCecilia stands out as an extraordinary champion, having been the undisputed champion for so long. Three Guinness books of world records,uyou know, so you’re, you know, very attractive, very marketable girl,udominant in the ring. So, you know, if they were going to show anyone, I could see them showing,uCecelia’s fight. But you know, certainly Laila Ali,udeserved to be on the, on the,uon the broadcast as well.

UTHW:                                  35:06                     So that’s a lot of history.

Tom Loeffler:                     35:09                     That’s a lot. That’s a lot of, how did I start into boxing?

UTHW:                35:18                     So you go through all that and then, somewhere in there, in between the Gennady years, you decided to start 360. Tell me about the Genesis of that.

Tom Loeffler:                     35:34                     Well, if I could go back let me back up a little bit. Bck to the Ali days. The only Klitschko fight that I missed was when I was, we set up an appearance for Muhammad Ali in Germany when the Will Smith film came out for Ali. And I remember it was a small town in Eastern Germany that I hadn’t heard of former East Germany. And they wanted to show that they can get the most famous person in the world to their small city to compete with everything going on in Frankfurt and Munich and Berlin and Hamburg. And so the small city named Riza, this mayor was very progressive and he actually got these sponsors together to finance a trip and an appearance for Ali to come over to be at the premiere of his film in Germany.

Tom Loeffler:                     36:27                     So that was a tremendous experience. That was one of the highlights between meeting and Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow and taking Muhammad Ali to Germany for an appearance. I mean, those were two tremendous highlights you know, outside of the boxing side of things. So, you know, I tried to use a lot of my experience. The reason why I’m relating that to 360 is because I tried to use a lot of my experience that I gained working with the retired athletes and just absorbing knowledge from a Harland Warner, like who, like I said, is a genius with sponsorships, endorsements, appearances, autographs and using that to secure, we secured a lot of sponsors for for Gennady. And then putting the 360 shows together. You know, it’s really sponsor driven. We have to, you know, going from the biggest fights in boxing where there’s triple G selling out Madison square garden, Vladimir Klitschko fighting Anthony Joshua at Wembley stadium.

Tom Loeffler:                     37:38                     You know, Vitali fighting here at Staples Center and we fought three times at Staples Center you know, all of these big events. And then a lot of people asked me, well, why did I start 360? Why did you go from those events to a local what’s considered a club show? I don’t consider it a club show. It is at a Hollywood nightclub, but I don’t consider it as a club show. I consider it as, you know, kind of like the VIP boxing experience where we’re, we want to broaden the horizons for the sport of boxing, make it really inviting for, for local people who aren’t going to go to one of the big arenas or fly to Vegas for a fight. But if it’s in Hollywood, right you know, in their backyard and at a nightclub where a lot of time at the Avalon where a lot of times, you know, they might be standing in line to get into the club, but they’ve never been to boxing there.

Tom Loeffler:                     38:32                     It’s, it’s an interesting experience, but it really gives me the platform to develop fighters, you know young fighters in their careers. And that’s something that you can do on the bigger shows. But those big shows don’t happen that often where, you know, we wanted, and I brought Brian Ceballo from New York needed to stay very active or a Serhii Bohachuck from Ukraine even Ryan Martin had fought on one of the Hollywood shows. We just had a tremendous fighter Adrian Montoya fight on one of those shows. We have George Navarro, who’s local. He’s a standout. Adrian Corona. Marco Deckmann trains with Freddie Roach. It’s, it’s great. One, one time we had one of the shows, we had Abel Sanchez training Bohachuck. We had Freddie Roach There was training, two of his guys were on a show. Buddy McGirt had a fighter on the show.

Tom Loeffler:                     39:26                     So when you have these legendary trainers I remember Buddy from when Kevin Kelly was fighting at the garden and Buddy was the main event and Kevin would be the co feature. I remember Buddy walked in like we were there, I think it was like a January fight and he had this like full length, the mink coat, kind of like you see out of a Rocky film, you know, and here comes Buddy walking in to the weigh in, in this fur coat. And so now that I see him, I, you know, I just have such an appreciation of what he accomplished back then. And now I see him with the success he has as a trainer on the training side. And you know, we get celebrities at the shows. Michael Buffer has been there. Bruce Buffer, Mario Lopez has been there.

Tom Loeffler:                     40:06                     Omar Miller, Victor Cruz was there Yasiel Puig when he was playing for the Dodgers. He was there. So many you know, celebrities coming through that it’s a, it’s a fun experience and again, you know, it’s just something separate from K2 or Triple G promotions where we can build the guys up. There’s no liability for those companies. You know, with these smaller shows. And you know, you really got to go to the basics of promoting is ticket sales, sponsorships. It’s just creating a buzz and putting on great fights at you know, you don’t have the luxury of those big budgets where, you get these major TV licensing fees and then you can kind of pick and choose, you gotta put on local fighters giving them an opportunity to develop their skills. And it’s interesting because before working with all these established fighters, I had never, you know, besides the Navarro brothers had always been involved with established fighters KevinKelly was established Oba Carr was established. They weren’t champions, but they were already well under their careers. Klichtko’s naturally. Were, were champions already. Vitali was, and then Wladimir went on that historic championship run after he started working with Emmanuel Steward you know, having so many title defenses and both of them selling out those big arenas.

Tom Loeffler:                     41:42                     Big stadiums I should say, in in Germany.

Tom Loeffler:                     41:47                     But, you know, taking that experience and then packaging it into a club, a club show that holds, you know, maybe a thousand people. It’s a, it’s a fun experience and it’s really given me the opportunity to see guys progress in their careers. And some guys look like they’re going to start out great and you don’t know how far they’re going to go. Like Gennady, tremendous fighter, but nobody really knew he was going to turn into that superstar. I had a feeling Abel, always believed in him. The managers believed in him. And so, you know we could see it before everyone else saw it, but especially in the sparring and the training. But you never quite know. You know, a lot of guys when they get the success and they don’t train as hard as they used to, they don’t have the same dedication.

Tom Loeffler:                     42:33                     And Gennady always kept that same dedication with every fight and sacrifice. And he was away from the family and he was so dominant. But you know, a guy like Bohachuk for example, he looks like he’s on the same path as Gennady, but he’s only 24 years old. If you can think about it. When I started working, when Gennady turned pro he was 26 years old. So having working with these guys that are, you know, 22, 24 20 years old I think Montoya’s 20 when you work with those guys it’s interesting to see how they develop in their career. So that’s, that’s an interesting part of the Hollywood fight nights and the 360, you know, shows that we’re doing.

UTHW:                                  43:17                     So what what do you think the future is going to hold for you if you had a crystal ball?

Tom Loeffler:                     43:24                     Oh, well you know I think Gennady has a lot more knockouts. You know, a lot of people think that he’s well not think, I mean he’s 37 years old, but a lot of people think that he’s slowing down. A lot of people are criticizing him for his last performance with Derevyanchenko. I mean, I think Derevyanchenko had a tremendous night in the last fight and he really was hungry. He really wanted to win and Gennady knocked him down and won a clear a unanimous decision. So I think Gennady has a lot of fights left. He can pretty much fight as long as he wants to. He’s got, he’s one of those special guys with a big punch, kind of like a George Foreman or a George Foreman of 44 years old. I don’t think, Gennady’ll fight until he’s 44.

Tom Loeffler:                     44:13                     But what I’m saying is that when you have a big punch like that, you can really neutralize for a long time. You can carry that along. As you get older you can neutralize a lot of guys with the, with the big power Gennady has. So I think a lot of Triple G fights left with him. It’ll be interesting to see what Bohachuk how he develops Brian Ceballo. He’s one of those guys, I didn’t really touch too much on Brian Ceballo, but he’s one of those special talents where had a great amateur career also rose to the occasion. You know, he had the big opportunity to be on a Triple G show at Madison square garden in his hometown. He’s from Brooklyn, New York, so he fought at Madison square garden, which is every fighter’s dream and a lot of times when you fight in your hometown, especially in a big arena the pressure is on you and a lot of fighters can’t take that pressure.

Tom Loeffler:                     45:09                     And Brian actually, you know, wanted a tough fight because he knew, he knew he had to be in a tough fight in order to be on that show at the garden. And he shined, he actually had his best performance at Madison square garden. So he’s fought twice at the garden, fought five times last year, if not twice at the garden. Both times. It looked very impressive and I think there is a great future for Brian Ceballo. He’s one of those rare guys that not only as a talent in the ring, but markets himself outside the ring. He speaks fluent Spanish, fluent English and and sold the most tickets out of any fighter on the undercard. So I really see a lot of great things for Ceballo in the future. And then you never know you know, building up other talents.

Tom Loeffler:                     46:00                     But you know, with Gennady, he wants to sign other fighters. He’s got Ali Akhmedov who signed with Triple G promotions. Ali’s, a tremendous talent. He’s training with Jonathan Banks and, and Triple G naturally now was training with Jonathan Banks. And I think if Triple G wants to sign additional fighters to Triple G promotions, I think he’ll be very successful because the fighters really respect what Gennady has accomplished. And I think Ali will become a world champion here pretty quickly cause he’s on the fast track. He’s excelled under Jonathan and he he wants the challenges. So I, I really think there’s a lot of great fights there and you know, with DAZN coming in and now with the dynamics with HBO going out, which was always every boxer’s dream, not only a fight in Madison square garden, but to fight on HBO you know, with HBO going out of boxing and DAZN coming in and you got DAZN boxing on ESPN has expanded their lineup.

Tom Loeffler:                     47:03                     ESPN plus and, and ESPN network Fox has come into boxing. They’re doing a great job. Showtime is still putting on some good fights. You know, you got a lot of opportunities, which I think anyone involved in boxing right now. It’s great because you get a, you have a kind of a choice. Before it was really like Showtime, HBO for that premium, for those top fights or naturally pay-per-view. But now you have a lot of networks or platforms bidding against each other. So right now it’s a good time in the boxing business and especially for female boxing. I like what happened with that we were able to, to be successful with Cecilia Braekhus, but you know, also tried to help Christina Hammer Siniesa Estrada, we had on some of our shows here locally at The Forum and Stub-Hub.

Tom Loeffler:                     47:56                     She’s doing great things now at with Golden Boy. I, I really think female boxing is going to flourish. Katie Taylor is doing great things. You know, Claressa Shields fighting on Showtime, Mikayla Myers with Top Rank. So I think you’re seeing female boxing becoming more competitive and becoming more accepted with the hardcore boxing fans where you can develop some great champions and if you have super fights, like Cecilia Braekhus versus a Katie Taylor. And I think that’s a huge, a huge fight for a female boxing. So I think there’s going to be not only opportunities on, on these platforms, but moving into that female boxing realm. I think that there’s great opportunities out there for the female champions.

UTHW:                                  49:00                     Okay. Trying to think of trying to think of what else we could get in here. What do you think about what, okay, so you brought up the networks. Yeah. it is definitely a different landscape now than it was even just three years ago. I think it was 2015 when the PBC announced the formation of the PBC and the time buys on the networks and and that organization was just getting on its feet. Now HBO is out, it looks like ESPN is going more to streaming for their boxing. And then you have DAZN, which is all streaming. Showtime is even streaming their undercards.

Tom Loeffler:                     49:55                     That was one thing we always tried to do or not, not to interrupt you, but one thing we always try to do on our bigger shows was give publicity to the fighters on the undercards. You know, with the technology now and the production costs coming way down I thought that there was no reason not to stream the undercard fights. So a lot of times we would stream the undercards, put it on a YouTube or Facebook and then it would go into the main events. And, and so that’s why, you know, I like what Showtime’s doing when they show all their fights and you know, Fox I said is doing great things.

Tom Loeffler:                     50:29                     So I think the barrier for the production and the costs has come way down with the streaming services.

UTHW:                                  50:37                     That’s another thing too. So you do have the, the Hollywood show. But wa it wasn’t very long ago. If you were an LA guy, you could see club show boxing, you know, you could drive to Ontario, you could go downtown, you go to Hollywood, or there was a club show going on at least once a month in LA. Right? But if you lived in Idaho, odds are you probably never got to see a club show in your entire life. And when you’re 100% right, but now you have 360, you guys are doing shows on Facebook. I’ve seen other outlets follow suit. Broadway boxing used to be on uh was it the ballroom boxing on a Lou DiBella show? He used to come on some cable channels. The smaller kid, you kinda had to hunt through the hundreds to find them. But now you can see all of these shows, promoters that, you know, sometimes I’ll turn, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll find it on one of those boxing groups. And who the hell is this promoter? But I’ll stop and watch it cause I’m a, I’m a boxing guy. What do you think about that? That everybody’s being allowed to stream a, a boxing show in some way?

Tom Loeffler:     51:51     I think it’s great. I think it’s a great exposure. Before it used to only be the people that were alive in the audience. And, and a lot of the club, a lot of the club shows were, were limited in their capacity. But now you’re pretty much, well, I mean, we get people watching our shows, especially when Bohachuk fights or when Ceballo fights, you know, from Mexico to Ukraine to Australia. UK always has a great boxing fans, so we get a lot of international support for our shows from, you know, a thousand people venue, a thousand person venue in, in Hollywood, you know, so it’s a, it’s a great feeling when you can again, you know, see these guys develop and with the streaming capabilities, I really think that opens up the doors for for them

About Albert Baker

Writer/Producer/Director of the Under the Hand Wraps documentary series and owner of Albert Baker is currently based in Fresno, California and has been covering boxing since 2014.

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