The first fighter we signed was Josesito Lopez back in 2004. We signed Timothy Bradley who went on to win a world title, we signed him right out of the amateurs. Very exciting, world super bantamweight champion Danny Roman. We signed Yonnhy Perez who went on to win a word bantamweight title; we’ve had some very good fighters.
Alex Camponovo Thompson Boxing
By Bill Tibbs
“Thompson Boxing, led by the amazing and largely unheralded team of Ken Thompson and Alex Camponovo, brings consistent, top quality boxing in California on a regular basis. They are good people and I appreciate the job they do in our sport” – Hall of Fame Matchmaker, Top Rank Boxing’s Bruce Trampler.
In this episode of ‘Chatting with the Champ’, we catch up with Orange, California’s Thompson Boxing VP and matchmaker Alex Camponovo.
Providing some of the best boxing you will see in southern California, Thompson Boxing has been going for 20 years after launching in the spring of 2000. President and owner Ken Thompson, along with Vice president and matchmaker Alex Camponovo, has made a name for Thompson Boxing as an outstanding promotional company due to the fact that they always look to deliver with the best fights for their legion of loyal fans that have helped to see Thompson shows sell out regularly.
The DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario, California, which houses the largest ballroom in the Inland Empire area, seating about 1300 people, has been the base of operations for many of their approximately 12-14 shows per year. However, Thompson has also set up shop all over southern California hosting shows in Salinas, San Diego, and Sacramento to name a few. The company has also promoted some of boxing best fighters turning out numerous contenders and world champions. A dedication to delivering quality shows and highlighting some of boxing’s most exciting fighters on a local, regional and world class level, has allowed the firm to establish itself as one of boxing’s premiere promotional firms.
Maxboxing had the pleasure of chatting with company VP and matchmaker Alex Camponovo from his office in Orange, California to catch up on the latest happenings with Thompson Boxing and what is in store for them once live boxing is up and running again.
Bill Tibbs: Hi Alex, thanks for taking a few minutes to chat. Appreciate it.
Alex Camponovo: Hi Bill, no problem, Happy to do it.
BT: Let’s do a quick background on Thompson Boxing. When did you get started?
AC: We are in our 20th year in operation. We started in 2000 and here we are 2 decades later. The company is owner and President Ken Thompson and I am the VP and matchmaker.
BT: When you first started were you looking to just promote shows or were you always interested in building a core of fighters as well?
AC: When we first started, about the first 3 or 4 years, we were just looking to put on shows, put on good fights and weren’t really looking, at that time, to build a core of Thompson fighters. We were just looking to put on shows on a regular basis. However, over time we got some good fighters, guys like Chris Arreloa who was having a great run at that time and were popular and we started to realize that we needed to get some fighters under contract who were going to be fighting for us on a regular basis. The first fighter we signed was Josesito Lopez back in 2004. We signed Timothy Bradley who went on to win a world title, we signed him right out of the amateurs. Very exciting, world super bantamweight champion Danny Roman. We signed Yonnhy Perez who went on to win a word bantamweight title; we’ve had some very good fighters.
BT: How many shows do you do a year?
AC: We usually do about 12-14 shows a year. We run monthly but we take December and January off for the holiday months. We might be involved in 25 or 30 shows a year as we partner with other promoters and we have our fighters perhaps on their shows as well. But, Thompson runs monthly on a regular basis.
BT: You seem to have a very loyal local following in Orange, and great reputation all over Southern California. What is the magic to long-term success?
AC: Yes, Bill we do, but we try very hard to deliver great fights all the time. That is the key. You can have all the promotion and all the fighters and all the fans ready to go but at the end of the day, for that to continue, you have to have good fights. That is the key over everything else. You have to put on good fights for the fans who are coming out to watch boxing because they don’t have to be there. It’s a tough climate out there in today’s world as entertainment competition, live or otherwise, is huge. People have to look at their entertainment budget, and options, and the options are endless now. Plus, fans have so many choices in the comfort of their home on TV for boxing so when you get them to a live event you have to deliver with great fights and that is where the loyalty is built - they will see great fights and want to come back. We’ve sold out about, I’d say, 90% of our shows since we started. You have to make it a great night for the fans and deliver a quality product.
BT: What other big changes have you seen in 2 decades?
AC: Another big thing is TV. There was a time when we could get certain spots on the various providers, but we realized that if we are going to adapt and survive, we needed to set up our own streaming service to showcase our fights and fighters. So, we put together our own production crew and started streaming fights over the last 3 years. Fighters can now get exposure to hundreds of thousands of people and that of course helps with our sponsors as well. The times change, platforms, everything changes in entertainment on a regular basis and if you want to stay current and competitive you have to adapt and move with the times and that is what we have done. Entertainment, whether your product is sports, music, whatever, is changing all the time and you have to adapt and grow in the industry you work in or you’ll be left behind.
BT: How has the concept of club boxing, really the training ground to develop elite level pro’s, changed over the years? Commissions have more rules, the platform for delivery is changing all the time.
AC: You know Bill, I’d say to look at club boxing right now, or just to talk about boxing in general as far as putting on shows, it is really looking at a social experiment that really speaks to the landscape of entertainment as a whole. There are a hundred different things happening all the time now, we live in an instant society where fans have access to information, entertainment, music, sports, whatever they like at their fingertips, at any given second. There are a lot of distractions to drive the casual sports fan away. The core boxing fan will be there but to reach the bigger market can be tough today so you have to be available for the viewer and deliver a good product every time and then they will become a regular and want to come back. I would say more so than all the new regulations that fighters have to adhere to, it is the distractions available to everyone looking for entertainment that is the greatest competition. In the entertainment medium, you have to adapt, grow, stay current, and speaking of boxing, deliver great fights.
BT: With competition being so tough for audience’s attention, do you encourage fighters to amp up their profile, to try to create a persona that garners lots of attention? Do you look for those kinds of fighters?
AC: You know Bill, in looking for fighters that can become an attraction, the number one thing is they have to be able to fight, and fight at the top level. That is what will make you an attraction first and foremost. As a promoter, if you land a guy who is a bit crazy, or has a very entertaining personality, that is great. The fans love it and it can be fun to promote a guy like that. But, usually, that is who they are. You can’t make somebody what they aren’t, you can’t squeeze that out of somebody. A young guy like Ryan Garcia loves the attention, and he knows how to use it, and great for him. He has like 6 million followers on Instagram. In the old days it was who could land the Pepsi commercial, now it’s the number of likes on social media. Usually the guys who are fun and crazy and entertaining speaks to their personality as a person more so that someone who is just acting that way. People who aren’t comfortable, maybe they are shy or whatever, usually can’t pull it off. But, at the end of the day, you have to make a statement in the ring, that is what will speak the loudest.
BT: Have you ever had a fighter that came along and really surprised you as to where he was able to take his career after perhaps not having huge expectations from him when he started?
AC: You know when we signed Danny Roman, we knew we had a tough kid, but he was green, and we didn’t know exactly what he could do. He was young, brave, tough but he was really lacking defensively; that was apparent. He turned pro and had a draw in his 2nd fight and then lost his 4th fight and he really was showing some defensive liabilities, in what were some vicious fights, that frankly we didn’t know if he could change. And, we didn’t want to see him get hurt. So, we told him that we had to let him go. He went away and worked very hard and he told us he would get better and his trainer said he won’t come back the same fighter. After a couple of months of hard work, they asked for another shot. Would we take a look at him again? So, we tested him, and he did look better it was obvious he had improved and had shown some real growth as a fighter. He fought better and better and then took tougher fights. Then, they said they wanted to take that next step. Long story short, he wins the NABA title and defends that a few times and then 7 years after turning pro travels to Japan and beats an undefeated champion to win the WBA super bantamweight world title. He makes 3 world title defences and then adds the IBF title as well. He lost his title in January of this year, but when I look at where he came from and what he has accomplished, it’s just great.
BT: That is a great story, love hearing those.
AC: It also makes me think of Yohnny Perez. He didn’t turn pro until he was 27 or 28 because he wanted to stay in the army over in Columbia to get his full pension. Then, he comes to California to take his shot and lives in the back of his managers mother’s house. And, he trains and trains and just works and works and works. He runs at 4:00 a.m. daily and is mad if he misses his run. He stays over in America for 8-9 months of the year and sends money home to is family. He turns pro in 2005 and works and works and is so determined and he eventually gets a shot and wins the title in 2009 against Joseph Agbeko. He makes his first title defence against Abner Mares at Staples Centre in 2010. I think he was great up to that point, but he was just mentally and physically burnt out after that. He then drops a decision to Agbeko in a rematch. Then, 5 months later he loses to Vic Darchinyan and he decides it is enough. But, an amazing story. You know what he did when he wins the title? He bought his mother a house. After he won the title we went to his hometown of Cartagena, Colombia with him to celebrate, where he was really a returning hero. He was so proud of his home in the barrio, one of the roughest areas you will ever see. A small little house but he was very proud of it and he loved showing us. Stories like that are really amazing when you see someone set goals for themselves and then capitalize on their chances. He came from one of the roughest ghettos you will ever see and made something of himself. He worked so hard and made the most of his moment when he got it.
BT: If you had to come up with your proudest moment, greatest moment, best memory over the last 20 years, does anyone, or anything, in particular come to mind?
AC: You know Bill, it really isn’t one particular memory or fighter. Of course, seeing fighters win a belt is great. You know all the work that was put in to get them to that point. But, as humans we all go through adversity in our lives and seeing how we handle it, and when a fighter has that moment, and in boxing, who knows, it might only happen once? But when a fighter is in that moment in his life and they capitalize on it and they beat the odds and get past that insurmountable challenge. We learn so much about how to handle defeat, and how to be strong and we come out of those situations better people, tougher people. When I see fighters get into those moments and come out victorious, and victory can be different for every fighter, but that is what is most rewarding when you think about great moments. When we can take a fighter to that moment, and they make the most of it, they capitalize on it, they are ready for it because they have worked so hard, that is what is great about this sport.
BT: Alex, I could talk you for hours. This has been great. Thank you so much.
AC: No problem Bill, anytime. Thank you for the interview.