THE BOXING ESQ. PODCAST, EP. 19: BOXING MANAGER DAVID MCWATER
The Ring is proud to present “The Boxing Esq. Podcast with Kurt Emhoff”.
Emhoff, an attorney based in New York City, is a top boxing manager who has represented more than 10 world titleholders in his 20-plus years in the sport.
His guest on this podcast is boxing manager David McWater, who discussed his journey from Oklahoma to NYC and stints as a basketball agent, bar owner and Manhattan Community Board member. They also discussed McWater’s statistical method of evaluating fighters and his massive roster of boxers, which includes IBF junior welterweight titleholder Ivan Baranchyk (whose withdrawal from the World Boxing Super Series is discussed), Ring 2018 Prospect of the Year Teofimo Lopez, Charles Conwell, Vikas Krishan, Antonio Vargas, Brian Ceballo, Erick DeLeon, Otha Jones III and Sonny Conto.
Below are a few excerpts from the interview:
Being a boxing fan growing up in Oklahoma:
“My grandfather liked Muhammad Ali. It was a big deal for him when there was a Muhammad Ali fight… of course, those were huge, epic cultural events that everybody watched. My dad wasn’t really athletic because he had one eye. He was always trying to take me to things to sort of make me feel better. We would go to 89’er games and stock car races and he started taking me to Sean O’Grady fights. And that was (what made me a boxing fan), man – the “Bubble Gum Kid”. And the great thing was the Bubble Gum Kid fought every week. It wasn’t like today when you had to wait five months to see him again. Every week you went up there and saw him knock somebody out and thought, ‘Gee, maybe I could be the Bubble Gum Kid someday.’ But I loved Sean O’Grady, oh my God, that was our guy.”
Origin of the name of his company, Split-T Management:
“The Split-T is the offense that Bud Wilkinson brought to the University of Oklahoma football team when he turned the program around. I’ve just always liked it as a name. When I was a kid, I always said I was going to buy a ranch one day and name it the Split-T. It’s just a thing from Oklahoma football. All of my companies have some reference to Oklahoma football.”
His use of proprietary software and analytics to evaluate boxers similar to Billy Beane’s “Moneyball” in baseball:
“I swear by it… I’ve been doing baseball research for 35 years, tons of stuff. One of the reasons I chose to go into boxing instead of anything else was I felt it was the last frontier for analytics. Nobody was doing it. As I’ve learned now, nobody’s doing scouting, much less doing analytics. So, I felt like it would be a huge leg up if I could do something like that. So, I’ve done dozens and dozens of studies, all of various value depending on how you look at them. We’ve also sort of melded them together to come up with a formula that predicts the likelihood of a kid in a neutral situation, because we’re basing it on where he was as an amateur. So, it’s promoter neutral, trainer neutral – of (the likelihood) fighting for a world title, which is sort of the benchmark we have for being successful.”
The status of his fighter, IBF 140-pound world titleholder Ivan Baranchyk, in the World Boxing Super Series:
“As far as we’re concerned, we’ve pulled out. There are people behind the scenes trying to patch things
up. God bless them if they do, we’re open-minded people. We wanted to be in the tournament. Ivan wants to fight all the best people. Ivan doesn’t care if you put a tank in front of him. But there were so many red flags. I don’t want to bad mouth these guys. I know they’re going through their troubles too, but there were a lot of red flags. It was sort of fine if we were going to fight in February or maybe even March. (But) there’s some red flags, maybe there’s going to be some trouble (scheduling the semifinal bout), but as long as they put the money in escrow a week before the fight or whatever – (but) we lost a month – (and) then when they start talking about moving into May or even June… (it’s too much time out) I can’t have him sitting around three, four more months with no fight and me having very little confidence that the fight will actually happen. Just from a business perspective, a guy who’s been in business all my life, I don’t think they’re going to make it.”
Regarding the blowback from his fighter Teofimo Lopez’s celebration over a prone and defeated Diego Magdaleno:
“In the heat of the moment, I didn’t see the whole “shovel” thing. I only saw it later on TV. I was sort of rushing to get in there. There was a lot of back and forth, though. I’m not saying we were innocent of anything. You know, Junior – Teofimo’s dad – he can be mouthy. But right before the fight, Magdaleno Sr. came over and started a fight right in our corner, which I thought was weird. There was a lot of chippiness and back and forth going on. So, you know, it is what it is. I love Teofimo’s celebrations. I probably would agree it’s better when they don’t come directly at the expense of the opponent. But people get paid a lot of money to fight him. If you’re paying attention, you know he’s going to do something. There is going to be a dance afterwards. Everybody knows that now. To me, that’s part of your paycheck. You either beat him or expect that.”