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Lou DiBella’s madcap Broadway Boxing show moves to PIX11 tonight

21
May
Lou DiBella stands behind Patrick Hylands at a press conference to promote a Showtime doubleheader featuring Hyland's challenge against Gary Russell Jr. Photo: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime.

Lou DiBella stands behind Patrick Hyland at a recent presser. Photo: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime

Lou DiBella took a short break from gabbing about positive drug tests and potential lawsuits to talk about something closer to his heart.

For more than a decade, DiBella has run club-style shows under the “Broadway Boxing” banner in New York. The cards serve as a proving ground/farm system for fighters on their way up. Guillermo Rigondeaux pirouetted his way through an appearance; so did Jose Pedraza and Javier Fortuna. Curtis Stevens checked some chins.

But more than that, the near-monthly shows at the bandbox joint served as a cocktail hour and social club to the various insiders and fight addicts who rolled up to trade stories and kibitz. It was the epicenter of a lot of craziness and fun, which may have contributed to its longevity .

The series has a new broadcast partner in PIX11, and the show debuts on the channel tonight around 7 p.m. (ET) following the Mets-Brewers game. The 90-minute special, dubbed: “Broadway Boxing: Presented by Brooklyn Boxing,” will run the March 30 middleweight fight between Chris Galeano and Devaun Lee that was mired in controversy when the wrong decision was announced. The correct winner wasn’t notified until the fighters were in their dressing rooms and the fans had long gone home. Galeano and Lee (who won by split decision) appear in-studio with play-by-play announcer Brian Custer to talk about the bizarre circumstances.

“I actually knock prospects off on my show,” DiBella said in a phone interview on Friday. “People actually lose – undefeated fighters actually fight one another. There are regular upsets on ‘Broadway Boxing.’ That’s what differentiates it from a lot of (other shows).”

The Galeano-Lee decision is just a sample of the unpredictability and drama that has taken place. There was the time in 2005 when a near-riot broke out at one of the shows. Chairs sailed through the air as if they were paper airplanes. DiBella was in the middle of it, confronting the hoods who had started the fracas to try and make peace as fans ran for the exits. (The crowd is usually well-behaved.)

George Kimball, the noted sportswriter who died of cancer in 2011, nearly fell to his death as he dangled upside down on an outside terrace at the Manhattan Center during a cigarette break in between fights. His leg had gotten caught on a fire ladder. Somehow he pulled himself up with the help of a security guard and returned to his seat. Kimball, who had once ran for sheriff in Kansas, watched the rest of the fights without a word (I was sitting next to him).

Tonight’s 90-minute show was screened on Thursday at the New York Friars Club and includes a preview of Keith Thurman’s welterweight title fight on June 25 on Showtime at Barclays Center. “Do the Right Thing” actor Danny Aiello opens the telecast with a voiceover of past highlights.

“A lot of champions and former world champions have fought on ‘Broadway Boxing,’ big names,” DiBella said. “But it’s also where the Golden Gloves kids fight. The kids who come out of the gyms in the Bronx and Brooklyn and Queens and the boroughs — it’s where Tri-State area talent fights and gets exposures.”

It’s also where entertainers and celebrities have gotten their first taste of boxing. Jay Z was a spectator before he formed Roc Nation Sports; The rapper Fat Joe and singer Ashante routinely showed up after the hip hop impresarios, Damon Dash, along with Chris and Irv Gotti got involved with some of DiBella’s fighters. The actress Susan Sarandon and model Adriana Lima found their way to DiBella’s cards. Hilary Swank was a frequent observer while she was preparing for her role in “Million Dollar Baby.” They all watched earlier versions of Andy Lee and Peter Quillin and Paulie Malignaggi and John Duddy and Seanie Monaghan and Luis Collazo, among others.

DiBella has long championed women’s boxing, and featherweight titleholder Amanda Serrano will announce on tonight’s show she is defending her belt at Barclays Center on July 30 on the undercard of Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton. In doing so, she becomes the first woman to defend a title at Barclays.

DiBella doesn’t know how many shows will air on PIX11, but if the pilot episode is a success, more shows, which may include live-fights, should follow. “Hopefully this will work,” he said.

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