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Boxing: Promoter DiBella Offers Summit to Try to Save Boxing

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posted on Nov, 27 2003 @ 06:02 PM
Daily News, New York - November 27, 2003

NEW YORK - When he was making boxing matches at HBO, Lou DiBella was a crusader for the sport. With the financial might of Time Warner-HBO Sports behind him, DiBella could afford to fight the good fight for right.

DiBella, a promoter now, is still a crusader, but with a smaller wallet. If things are going to be fixed, DiBella believes it will have to be a collective effort.

That's why he has proposed a three-day promoters summit. If the promoters don't meet to solve boxing's problems - lack of major corporate sponsors, uniform health and safety standards, shrinking TV dates and rights fees, lack of coverage in the mainstream press - DiBella believes boxing will become more of a fringe sport.

"It's fading into a second-tier sport already, and it's almost there," DiBella said. "People are sitting around waiting for things to get better. They aren't going to get any better unless we step in to fix it."

DiBella said most of the responses to the idea of a promoters summit, which was suggested by promoter Cedric Kushner three years ago, have been favorable.

"I'm not saying this is going to actually happen and if it does whether it will actually fix anything," DiBella said. "But at least we could all get together in the same room and address some of these problems."

The competitive nature of the boxing business makes it unlikely that a promoters summit will ever occur. No one wants to share ideas, particularly if those ideas will make someone else's business successful. DiBella believes the business is so deep in the dumper that that kind of thinking might be put aside.

Kushner wondered where DiBella was when he suggested it several years ago.

"You ask yourself why he's calling for a summit now. Is it because he's run out of HBO dates?" Kushner said. "When he had 15 HBO dates there wasn't any need for a promoters summit."

"It should be an industry summit, involving anyone who makes a living in boxing - boxers, managers, TV network executives," Kushner said. "I would attend such a summit. I've been advocating this for a long time. I'd also like the boxing union there."

Promoter Dan Goossen is not interested in attending a promoters summit because he believes there is too much focus on the negative aspects of the sport.

"There's nothing anyone can tell me that would cure the ills of this sport that I haven't heard in the last 15 years," Goossen said.

"This sport is all about promoters putting on fights that the fans want to see. If you have fighters that have caught the public eye, then they will pay to see them fight."

Promoter Gary Shaw doesn't see the dire future of the sport that DiBella sees, but Shaw sees some things that need to be addressed.

"The sport is in good shape," Shaw said. "We need more stars, and we desperately need sponsorships, network TV, and newspaper beat writers."

DiBella's business has hit a rough patch. He has trimmed his roster considerably, letting go some high-priced prospects who didn't pan out. His doom and gloom predictions won't help his recruiting. But the summit might help him out more than guys like Don King and Bob Arum.

Mosley-Mayorga in works

The representatives for WBA/WBC 154-pound champ Shane Mosley, and WBA/WBC 147-pound champ Ricardo Mayorga, are close to reaching an agreement for an HBO Pay-Per-View mega-match on March 13. Mayorga will have to get past IBF welterweight champ Corey Spinks on Dec. 13 in Atlantic City. That means a third match between Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya will have to wait until later in 2004.

ESPN tuning out boxing?

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