A much missed part of Los Angeles’ fight past is being resurrected from the dead with a facelift and a shot of fresh new blood courtesy of Oscar De La Hoya (39-6, 30KOs). February 11, 2015 De La Hoya announced on site at downtown’s Belasco Theatre that starting in March, Golden Boy Promotions will be bringing back Los Angeles’ Fight Night Club, circa 2009 - 2012 as the new and renamed “LA Fight Club” to be housed at and televised from the old Los Angeles glam Belasco Theatre venue. Set to be televised as a part of the Golden Boy Live! Series, LA Fight Club will launch on Friday, March 6, 2015 and be televised on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes. Like it’s predecessor, this monthly boxing series will be all about finding the pulse of what’s newest and most deadly in the Los Angeles young professional boxing scene while also delivering “ intimacy, being up close and personal to the ring and experiencing the action,” as stated expressly by De La Hoya. Conceived as a smart redo by De La Hoya about six months ago, finding fresh new fighters and building relationships early for the fans is the most talked about point of the venture, but the necessary undercurrent is that this series is an essential business strategy for Golden Boy as a grassroots return to safer talent strewn high ground after considerable losses due to poaching from Al Haymon and the split of former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer from the fold. To the point of sparkling new talent, when Emilio Sanchez, one of De La Hoya’s spanking new prospects was seemingly tongue tied at the microphone due to first timer’s nerves in front of the unblinking eye of the press, De La Hoya was quick to happily quip, “see he’s already nervous…those nerves, that’s what LA Fight Club is all about… once you step inside the ring you know what to do,” De La Hoya finished, emphatically flashing his signature megawatt smile at Sanchez and the press in one fell swoop.
In the typical manner of boxing making strange frenemies, on hand as a key participant and Golden Boy supporter was none other than De La Hoya’s former blood feud foe, Fernando Vargas (26-5, 22 KOs). As a smart “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” scenario on the part of both, De La Hoya and Vargas have joined forces in their shared plan for bringing West Coast Boxing youth’s finest to the forefront of the international boxing world. Mr. Vargas has been making noticeable strides on the youth circuit with his own Feroz Fight Factory Boxing Club in Las Vegas and as such makes for a great natural resource from which future Golden Boy Promotions talent could spring. As for the past very real enmity exploited during their aptly named "Bad Blood" professional bout, De La Hoya seemed to thoroughly enjoy the paradox in hindsight. “ It’s all good blood now. We’re all a big happy family,” said De La Hoya. “Vargas was a great champion … he’s been doing some great things with developing a lot of young kids in Las Vegas…I told him, look let’s team up… you can cultivate that generation of fighters and then we move them on to our platform which is on the professional level with Golden Boy Promotions. We are working hand in hand and developing the next champions for boxing,” stated De La Hoya. Vargas was more reserved but equally positive in his recounting of their new relationship: “When it was time for me to take my fighters to a promoter, I wanted to take them to a promoter who knew what it is to step into the ring… who else could be better...how could you not take him to a fighter a promoter like Oscar? As a trainer, I think it’s key,” said Vargas.
The fighter to which Mr. Vargas was referring to in connection to this first installment of La Fight Club was none other than Cesar “The Great” Quinonez (1-0, 1KO), whom Vargas now trains. Quinonez, a baby-faced super lightweight prospect, may not be part of the televised action for this March 6 card, but he is a nevertheless a very exciting young talent – unassuming innocent looks and all. Accordingly, when it came to the subject of Quinonez, Vargas was anything but reserved: “Cesar is such a great student. He learns so quickly I don’t have to tell him to do things twice… The more you guys see him box, the more you’ll see how intelligent he is… you are going to be pleasantly surprised seeing this kid,” enthused Vargas. Quinonez comes into LA Fight Night having signed with Golden Boy Promotions shortly before making his professional debut on January 17th as part of the Bermane Stiverne (24-2-1, 21 KOs) vs. Deontay Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs) card. There, he delivered a dramatic second round knockout over opponent Joan Jose Valenzuela (1-3, 1KO) instilling even more confidence in his trainer and promoter alike with regard to his increasing abilities.
Indeed, the roll call for this first take on this revamped series is impressive.
Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz Jr. (14-0, 9 KOs) is a 2012 Olympian and headlining the event against Mexican brawler Geovanny “ Loviznas” Delgado (15-2, 9 KOs) in a 10 round super bantamweight bout. Christian “ Chimpa” Gonzalez (8-0, 8KOs) is set to be featured in a 6 round co-main event with the opening televised bout to be fought between Santiago “El Lobito” Guevara (8-0, 3KOs) and Carlos “The Solution” Morales (6-1-3, 3KOs). Irish middleweight prospect and 2013 AIBA World Amateur Boxing Silver medalist Jason Quigley (3-0, 3KOs) will be matched against Lanny Dardar (2-2-2, 1 KO) of Houma, Louisiana, while the other fighters in the separate untelevised undercard fights are Roy Tapia (10-1-1, 5KOs), Cesar “The Great” Quinonez (1-0, 1KO), Jesus Delgado (3-0-1, 1KO) and Emilio Sanchez (6-0, 5 KOs).
The only thing that might need to be reworked with regard to the otherwise flawless kickoff for the Belasco LA Fight Club venue is the access. While the prices are reasonable, none other than former two time WBO Welterweight champion and interim WBO Light Middleweight Champion Paul Williams (41-2, 27 KOs), who is wheelchair bound, was left with no way to enter the press conference or the fight venue. In town attending to his duties and well earned calling as a motivational speaker to young kids and fighters alike, Mr. Williams was stranded outside the venue yet surrounded by a circle of adoring boxing fans and press alike. Williams expressed excitement for the card, but dismay at the kinks to be worked out with regard to intimacy for all: “ I tried to go up there in the theatre. I guess they don’t want no handicapped or paraplegics up there,” said Williams amicably. “I ain’t trying to knock their stuff or anything. It’s 2015 there should be an elevator or something up in there,” Mr. Williams continued only to be interrupted with picture perfect timing by Oscar De La Hoya himself, accompanied by LA Fight Night headliner Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz Jr.. Both were ready to appropriately meet and greet Mr. Williams in a show of fight royalty to fight royalty decorum. From the get go De La Hoya’s manner was real and all inclusive: “ Paul ‘The Truth’ Williams!... look at Paul, the example of perseverance and being a champion and never giving up… when I grow up I want to be like Paul… a three time world champion and champion in life, ” De La Hoya exclaimed, ushering young Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz Jr. to meet Williams in a show of admiration, respect and contrition.
Hopefully that is what the revitalization of this series will bring – a chance to bring back something that was already good and refashion it to make it even better for everyone inclined to enjoy it in the near future and beyond.
Written by Kylie Krabbe
Photo by Kylie Krabbe
February 13th 2015
L.A. Fight Club gets Redo
Oscar De La Hoya with former World Champion Paul "The Punisher" Williams.