Every fighter has a story
FIGHT NIGHT CLUB: THE FACTS
What: Fight Night Club, a monthly boxing series featuring rising prospects at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles
Who: The featured young fighters hail primarily from Southern California and are considered legitimate prospects. The line up: David Rodela (12-1-3, 6 KOs) vs. Juan Garcia (14-2, 5), 6 rds., jr. lightweights; Charles Huerta (10-0, 5) vs. Noe Lopez Jr. (4-0, 3), 6 rds., featherweights; Luis Ramos (10-0, 5) vs. Baudel Cardenas (18-16-2, 6), 4 rds., lightweights; Jose Roman (4-0, 3) vs. Ramon Flores (3-5-1, 3), 4 rds., jr. lightweights.
When: The premiere show is this Thursday, June 11.
TV/Internet: The card will be televised on Versus and streamed live on RingTV.com and Yahoo! Sports. The first fight begins at 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET.
Future shows: July 30, Aug. 27 and Sept. 24 at Club Nokia, which is adjacent to Staples Center.
One of Golden Boy Promotions’ goals when it created “Fight Night Club” was for boxing fans to get to know the young fighters featured on the cards – both as athletes and people.
The prospects you will see on the monthly shows are all good fighters with solid credentials. I was reminded by interviewing three of them that they are also interesting people with compelling stories and many of the same challenges we all face, often bigger challenges.
I was also reminded of what I often tell people: Boxers are among the nicest of all professional athletes, probably because so few of them were born with silver spoons in their mouths. Generally, they’re the kind of people you root for.
Consider David Rodela, who faces Juan Garcia in the six-round main event on Thursday. He recounted in detail how he was almost killed in a terrible car accident – also almost losing a leg – and was told he might never walk again yet battled through it and became a professional fighter.
When he told me how he made his pro debut even though the leg hadn’t fully healed – “just to make my dream come true,” he said – I had to hold back tears.
He is an inspiration.
Luis Ramos told me about the pain he feels every day watching his parents struggle to make ends meet, his father rising at 4 a.m. every day and working two jobs while his mother recovers from a stroke. The Ramoses are in the process of losing their home.
The young fighter from Santa Ana, Calif., dreams of fame and fortune but not for himself. He’s driven by the desire to help his mom and dad.
Again, he is an inspiration.
And then there’s Juan Garcia of Phoenix, the rough, tough boxer who works with little kids as a director of childcare at the local YMCA and hopes to establish a boxing program to keep the vulnerable children off precarious streets. He’s only 22.
Once again, inspiration.
And these are only three fighters, three of dozens who will fight in the monthly series to be streamed live on RingTV.com and Yahoo! Sports, as well as televised on Versus.
They all can fight but we must remember that they’re more than just pugs.
“Your stories put them on a different level,” said one reader of RingTV.com, referring to stories about Rodela and Ramos that were posted on the site. “Those boxers are people whom we should treat with high RESPECT. They are not just a bunch of players who we pay to perform. They are people, just like your brother, maybe your dad or uncle, who work hard to earn a living.”
Indeed they are. And there are many of them.
Southern California gyms produce countless promising young fighters, some of whom fight for Golden Boy. Hence the idea to start “Fight Night Club,” which is designed to provide a showcase for prospects who otherwise might not get much exposure in an intimate night-club setting.
Golden Boy wanted to fill the vacuum left by the closure of once-thriving club-fight venues like the Olympic Auditorium and even the Forum, only strictly with home-grown Southern California talent in four- or six-round bouts. The plan is to have the same fighters on each card so they can establish a local following as fans watch them evolve.
The ultimate goal is to discover the next Oscar De La Hoya, who is now the president of Golden Boy.
“I definitely want to be consistent with who fights on the shows, to give fans the chance to get to know these young fighters,” De La Hoya said.
And RingTV.com will be there to tell their stories.
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]