It might be an idea whose time has come -– and gone. But the boxing romantic in promoter Lou DiBella has his sights set on reviving interest in the New York club boxing scene and focusing attention on the grass roots level that once flourished and served as the lifeblood of the sport.
DiBella has partnered with PIX11 and Barclays Center to produce “Broadway Boxing: Presented by Brooklyn Boxing,” a 90-minute special that will air on WPIX Saturday immediately following the Mets game or at 7 p.m. in the event of a rainout. The show is a pilot that might lead to a regular monthly show focusing on the development of club level boxing in the New York area.
Boxing announcer Brian Custer and PIX11 sports anchor Andy Adler host the first episode, which will take a look back at the New York State middleweight title bout in March between Devaun Lee of Queens and Chris Galeano of the Bronx that was marred by a scoring error. The show also will preview the June 25 card at Barclays Center matching WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter.
Another segment features female boxers Heather Hardy, who will be on the June 25 undercard, and WBO female featherweight champion Amanda Serrano, who will appear on the undercard of a July 30 show with WBA super featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz facing IBF super bantamweight champ Carl Frampton, who is moving up.
“The show is a combination of boxing action and interviews about club shows and local boxing and the history of local boxing in New York,” DiBella said. “This new platform is the greatest opportunity ‘Broadway Boxing’ has had. It’s a necessary outlet to feature these kids and let them be seen and be recognized. That’s good for awareness.
“I want this to be a fixture on WPIX. If this works, one of the next ‘Broadway Boxing’ shows you would see would be the best of the 2016 Golden Gloves. I have the television rights. Eventually, I want to do live boxing.”
DiBella ranks among the major promoters in boxing and currently serves as lead promoter for Premier Boxing Champions events that take place at Barclays Center. But he also has run his regular “Broadway Boxing” club series locally with most events taking place at B.B King’s restaurant in Manhattan, and his 12-year-old “Broadway Boxing” television series is the longest-running independently produced boxing show in the nation.
Part of the idea behind the new show is to nurture the pipeline of local talent that is being developed in New York metro area gyms and coming up through the Golden Gloves ranks. DiBella, who also is president of a minor league baseball team that serves as the San Francisco Giants Class Double-A affiliate, envisions creating a kind of boxing farm system. Not only would he like to showcase local rivalries, but he also would like to stage matches between New York talent and boxers developed by Golden Gloves programs in other cities, such as Philadelphia and Boston.
“There’s fun stuff that can be done,” DiBella said. “It’s important to me that the sport remain strong in New York. It has to remain strong here to remain strong in the country. The history of boxing was built on the local gyms producing fighters and sending them to the Golden Gloves.”
DiBella has a keen interest in women’s boxing. “I’m really looking to get these women an opportunity to showcase their talents in fights that are televised nationally and regionally.”
Admittedly, there is a “synergy” with DiBella’s role with Barclays boxing program in the sense that the emphasis on local development could produce a steady flow of boxers who graduate to the larger shows in that arena.
“Honestly, it’s a passion thing,” DiBella said of the club-show scene. “I have fun . . . We produce champions, but we’ve also produced a lot of people who had their moment. Win or lose, they had the opportunity. Dreams are made and sometimes broken. But there’s nothing worse than not being able to chase a dream.”