Sports media company Overtime walks into the realm of the boxing world this Friday
Overtime launched Overtime Elite in March 2021 and it’s already made great strides in basketball, seeing two of its players, twins Ausar and Amen Thompson, selected with the No. 4 and No. 5 picks in the most recent NBA Draft. Now the company is stepping into the wild, sordid world of professional boxing, beginning this Friday to kick off a four-weekend summer series at the OTE Arena in Atlanta and being broadcast live on DAZN.
It’s baby steps right now for OTX, which will feature 2020 U.S. Olympian Oshae Jones (3-0) and lightweight Haven Brady Jr. (9-0, 4 knockouts) on its first show, and close the month on August 25 with southpaw middleweight talent Lorenzo “Truck” Simpson (13-0, 7 KOs) against Vladimir Hernandez (13-5, 6 KOs), the upset winner over former junior middleweight titlist Julian Williams in October 2021.
What’s unique about OTX, which is based in Atlanta, is new rules that they will be applied to boxing, which may hopefully gain traction throughout the sport. The addition of OTX helps deepen the pool for rising boxing talent, who are finding an increasingly steady dearth of platforms to show and hone their skills with fewer American club shows.
OTX will be implementing an “Overtime Round,” which will occur if there is a draw. There will be an additional winner-takes-all round, which all allow the fighter to take their fate into their own hands. OTX is also offering incentive clauses for fighters, offering a unique KO Bonus for every fight on the card. A knockout in any round is rewarded, but there is a multiplier effect if the knockout is in the first or last rounds. To help initiate more action, OTX has shrunk the size of the ring, to 18×18 square feet, from the standard 20-22 square-foot rings.
Brandon Rhodes, 32, is the OTX general manager. He once fought in the New York Golden Gloves, and he is a Michigan graduate. He’s worked with major celebrities and worked for major companies, like Gatorade.
“There is more fragmentation in boxing than in other sports, so there are structural differences that I noticed between boxing and other sports,” Rhodes said. “But like any other business that you’re in, you make sure that you find people that you trust, you work with them, and try to make sure everything is above board. It’s how we operate at Overtime. Everything is clear and we try to build trust. Our goal is pretty simple: We’re looking to discover the next generation of great talent. We’re hopeful, through OTX, we can find future world champions and tell their stories. I’m excited to see fighters like Truck against Hernandez. We want give fans great fights and give young fighters tough competition.”
The fights will take place at the 1,200-capacity OTE Arena in Atlanta.
Right now, this month is just a start. The eventual goal is to grow.
Dan Porter, who is originally from the Philadelphia, Pa., suburbs, is the Overtime CEO and co-founder. He and his crew gained a foothold in the basketball community and grew their league through the help of partnerships with State Farm, and in November 2022, made an agreement with Amazon Prime Video to broadcast its games, which is a basketball league of 16–18-year-olds that pay their players over $100,000 a season. Porter, 57, is a former William Morris Endeavor executive and Princeton graduate. He knows major players in the commercial and sports world and has a history of merging the two together. An added plus is he grew up following boxing.
Could he bring sustained new blood into the highly political, divided world of boxing?
But first, why boxing?
“We have millions of followers and we found they obviously like basketball and football, and we found an audience that puts boxing and combat sports up there at No. 3,” Porter said. “Anything, Jake Paul, UFC, there are a lot of people who have made it more popular. We have a vibrant arena and it seemed like if we were going to do something that we would be well positioned there. There are a lot of good businessmen in boxing, and we saw an opportunity in basketball.
“There are people who see opportunity at a pre-contender level. Young fighters are always looking for opportunities. We took the time going out and spending a whole year in the ecosystem, talking to everyone, carving out our cool little space. We’re open to anyone in boxing. We had the Thompson twins who had two amazing years with us, and if we can do that with boxing, that would great for us, too. There is a lot of storytelling. That’s the part we feel that we’re good at for an audience. We’re not going after the traditional players in the market.”
OTX began this in 2022. They started in the grassroots, which is what they did with basketball, beginning in the gyms. OTX reached out to fighters and trainers to find out what interested them.
“Brandon is very passionate about this,” Porter said. “He was giving me feedback every day. We found something there. Brandon found some chances to build some guys. I’m excited about this. We’re trying to prove we can execute and come out strong.”
This looks like a nice first step.
“Activity was a problem, and now that I’m here with Overtime, we’ll see where we go,” said Simpson, 23, who is trained by Calvin Ford. “I needed to calm down and not let the frustration take me over. This is a great chance for me to show people what I can do.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
THE BUNDLES ARE BACK AT THE RING SHOP (CLICK HERE)