“I think you’re right,” admitted Artie Pelullo, who certainly isn’t unbiased in his opinion given he’s promoted this tournament. “They’re both going to be great fights but the Petrov-Carcamo fight, I think somebody’s getting knocked out. I don’t know who’s getting knocked out but I think somebody’s getting knocked out. I want to know who Carcamo lost to five times. He has five losses on his record and I said to his manager, ‘Whoever he lost to, I want to sign them.’”
“Boxcino” is not a new concept (nor are tournaments, for that matter). Back in the late ‘90s, Pelullo staged the inaugural “Boxcino.” He explained, “I tried to do it a couple of years earlier but then when the climate changed at ESPN and the management changed, I went to see [ESPN Head of Boxing Programming] Brian Kweder and I went see [ESPN Director of Programming Acquisitions] John Campagna and I laid out my idea to them about, ‘Why don’t we do this tournament? We did it before with you and I found Acelino ‘Popo’ Freitas and I found a couple of other fighters like J.C. Candelo,’ and they loved the idea. They loved the idea of a tournament. They loved the idea that the fans could follow how all the fighters were doing week in and week out.”
According to Pelullo, ESPN spent a good amount of money on the production for this tourney and did extensive backgrounds on all the participants. “Not like the 10-minute interviews they do before each fight airs,” he pointed out.
In theory, tournaments are great. They certainly work for other sports but in boxing, they are only as good as the fighters who participate in them. Both Petrov and Carcamo have put on strong performances in entertaining affairs. Just looking at these two, they seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Also helping out is the quick turnaround. For the lightweights, “Boxcino” began on February 21st, then resumed on March 28th and concludes tonight. Three fights in three months. It wasn’t a long and drawn-out process in which the audience either forgets the participants or simply loses interest.
The single-elimination format seems optimal.
“’Well, we think it is because we’ve been getting a lot of good press from people like you. The fans love it and ESPN loves it. People just love following it and it’s a single-elimination; it’s do-or-die. The best part is that the first round was six rounds and then eight rounds and then 10. You gotta fight six and eight rounds and if you get dropped, you’re behind by two points in a six-rounder - that’s two rounds. You gotta fight,” explained Pelullo.
When asked how difficult it was to actually get managers and their fighters on board “Boxcino,” Pelullo admitted, “It is hard to put together tournaments, to find kids who are willing to take a chance and they’re gambling that they get the exposure and it went well because everyone stayed in the fight because we paid them well. But at the end of the day, these kids all took a chance on an opportunity to advance their career.”
The fighters involved here were unattached to the likes of Top Rank Promotions or Golden Boy Promotions (therefore, not on the fast track to HBO or Showtime). Perhaps they had no other choice but to roll the dice and take a risk. It could be argued that they really had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Regardless, the winner tonight will come out highly rated by both the WBA and WBO. With the fractured nature of today’s boxing business, boxers who are not aligned with Top Rank and Golden Boy may not have much choice but to dive into things like “Boxcino.” At the very least, the finalists will have gotten three nationally televised dates.
“I think not so much the climate [of the business] but the actual tournament,” is what Pelullo thinks is the major inducement to sign up for “Boxcino.” “The business, some guys are always going to want to go with the guy who’s considered the biggest guy in the world. And then other guys, it’s like staying at a boutique hotel. Other people like to go with people that they’re more centered around. You’re going to be more taken care of because I only have 50 fighters. I don’t have 150 fighters like Bob Arum.
(For the record, neither Pelullo nor Arum has that many clients.)
“But I also think the tournament is a concept where we can go somewhere quicker and get somewhere faster if you’re willing to gamble. I think that helped me a lot. I really do think that the fighters that were in the tournament believed enough in themselves to try it and take a shot and I think it turned out pretty good,” said Pelullo.
Can we expect more “Boxcino” in the future?
Pelullo says optimistically, “Well, right now, we’re talking to ESPN. They love the idea and we’re trying to expand it to three weight classes. So I think it’s very successful and I think we’re going to do it again. I don’t have a definitive on that but I think we’ll do it again.”
Here’s my latest contribution to SportsOnEarth.com on Manny Pacquiao’s contract extension with Top Rank and its real ramifications:
Here’s the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
“Friday Night Fights” begins at 9 p.m., ET...Karl Dargan-Anthony Flores has been added to the June 21st “Fight Night” card on NBC Sports Network...Luciano Cuello is being discussed as Jorge Melendez’s new foe on June 7th on the Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto pay-per-view undercard...Geez, the Lakers can’t catch a break nowadays...Do you give Mark Cuban points for honesty?...The Spurs are clicking on all cylinders right now...Ican be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.