Golden Boy Promotions will be back and with it maybe – just maybe – Oscar de la Hoya.
Even before Thursday night’s card on ESPN was not even half over there was an announcement they’d return in late July for another fight card. And again in early November.
“It’s been great; Tucson is a wonderful fight town,” said Robert Gasparri, chief operating officer for Golden Boy Promotions.
Tucson would like to think that even if the cards (some good, some not so good) are fleeting. But Tucson does love its boxing and has for years.
In my time here, I’ve witnessed a number of promoters come through to hold events — some fly-by-nighters and other die-hard locals who had the fight game and the city at heart (Ray Flores, Conrad Rodriguez). There was also Sugar Ray Leonard’s group and Golden Boy in the mid-2000s. Back then it was at the Desert Diamond Casino.
Now, the boxing power has switched to Casino del Sol, which is has long hosted MMA-style events and every-once-in-a-while boxing.
“Tucson is a great fight town and Casino del Sol is a great fight site,” said Gasparri. “We think we have a great partnership. We have ESPN dates and HBO dates (slated). We think this is a perfect venue.”
Who will fight on those cards and any particulars have yet to be determined.
“People in Tucson love their boxing,” Gasparri said.
The people also like their locals on cards. Thursday, only one local was on it. All the representatives know that will have to change.
“It’s good for them and it’s good for us,” Gasparri said.
Sergio Diaz, president of Showdown Promotions who helped put on the event, agreed
“That’s going to be a priority because there are a lot of (good) kids out there as well as the Phoenix area who can box,” Diaz said.
Steve Neely, Casino Del Sol’s chief operating officer said he, too, is hopeful that locals help fill the cards in the future but understands not all can be that way. Still, he likes what happened Thursday night given an estimated 1,300 fans showed up even with the fight televised on ESPN.
“We got what we expected when we teamed up with Golden Boy,” Neely said. “All the fights have been first class and that’s what we were hoping for … We want to provide the best quality of fights.”
About a decade ago, Desert Diamond and Casino del Sol each had fight cards more consistently. Neely said he’s not guaranteed that consistency will happen but it’s possible.
“Baby steps,” he said. “We will continue to see what the market dictates to us. We will see what we can do. We’re trying to find out what works for us. What they presented to us works for us. But nobody is better than Golden Boy and Oscar.”
In the end, Thursday was a good day with the two televised fights going the distance, with each providing lots of action.
“I thought it was a success,” Diaz said. “Tucson showed up. And we gave them a good show.”