by Geoffrey Ciani - On August 6, former heavyweight contender Lou Savarese launched his first promotional event, ďThursday Night ThrowdownĒ. The card took place at the Hilton Americas in Houston, Texas, where part of the proceeds were given to charity ( Casa El Buen Samaritano). On October 8 Lou is promoting his second fight card. This one is called ďFists of FuryĒ and will be held in the same venue as his debut promotional endeavor. I was recently afforded the opportunity to have a nice chat with the former contender turned promoter, and here is what he had to say:
Q: Now Lou, your promotional company promoted its first boxing card on August 6 called ďThursday Night ThrowdownĒ. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience and how it went down?
A: It reminded me of my wedding in one sense that I donít remember anything. Youíre running around being the host.. Iíve been around now promoting in different trades, and obviously fighting, and I had a good friend Bob Duffy who used to promote up in New York and I helped him out a little bit. But being the main guy is pretty taxing and rewarding at the same time. Youíre running around nonstop, but itís good this came to fruition. Itís kind of fun.
Q: Now as I understand, a portion of the proceeds from that fight card went to a charity. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
A: Sure, itís Casa El Buen Samaritano, and itís really neat. Itís actually a church my wife and I go to. Itís called Cross Point Church, but basically itís like a hospital but all of the time is donated by physicians that go to our church for people that are indigentówell, it used to be indigent but now, with the economy the way it is, we have so many people coming through the clinic and the doctors during the week donate their time and help everybody out. It was predominantly Hispanic people coming through, but now itís all walks of life because the economy is so bad and thereís so many people out of work.
Q: Your second promotional event is coming up on October 8. This one is called ďFists of FuryĒ. Can you tell us a little bit about this upcoming fight card?
A: Itís kind of exciting. Just to back up a little bit, the place where weíre doing the fight, a lot of promoters have tried to get in thereóitís the biggest ballroom in Texas, itís 44,000 square feet. I hired a marketing firm and they have done a lot of nonprofit things, so, we kind of backed our way in the first time, the hotel didnít want us, but we did a good event and they did really good with food and beverage that night, so now weíre coming back for the second time and we have a lot more leverage. Itís kind of a nice Ďmarriageí, for lack of a better term, being made here between us and the Hilton Americas. This is going to be a great fight, we have a heavyweight Steve Collins is fighting Darrel Madison whoís an up-and-coming guy who beat another fighter I work with, Nagy Aguilera. Darrel is an interesting guy. On paper he doesnít look that good but he keeps winning and heís mentally tough. I noticed that watching him against Nagy. Darrel is very smart in there and very savvy.
Q: Now Lou, what made you first become interested in promoting? When did you first decide that this was something for you and take serious steps towards making it happen?
A: Not to be corny or clichť, but being a boxer all this time looking at it from a fighterís standpointóand I saw it in Ultimate Fighting guys, evenóthese guys are really getting, and I donít know how to say it any better, taken advantage of. The promoters are making huge amounts of money, and listen, I want to make money, too, but I think thereís enough money going around and maybe do it with some integrity and everything. Itís been a problem for me to stop looking at it from a fighterís standpoint and trying to look at it from a promoterís standpoint, but itís gotten more prevalent where guys like Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, guys are getting into promoting more. Itís kind of a natural for me. I have a pretty good business mind from doing my real estate for so many years. It kind of falls into place, and I talk to everybody, thereís nobody I donít talk to, homeless people, everybody! My wife laughs and says, ďIs there anybody you donít talk to?Ē I guess all the years of me yapping and talking so much have paid off. I have a lot of friends and they really come out to support us. The last one, we had a median ticket price of over $100 and we wound up selling over 1,800 seats, so it worked out pretty good.
Q: Is there anything unique about your philosophy that separates you from other promoters, and if so, what is that exactly?
A: I think so. I mean, I donít want to kid myself, but I would like to think that Iím going to be a little bit different in the sense that Iím going to try and do it with the fighter in mind. I guess thatís the best way to say it, but I want to try and at least give these guys a good shot. It was really one of the best things in my early promoting career, but Euegene Hill, the guy that fought on the last card, he had said in the paper that it was the best deal he had ever gotten on a show like this. So that made me feel good, and hopefully I can do that and still make it lucrative. I had a promoter when I first started, Josphine Abercrombie, and I think she had all the right intentions but it didnít work out. She lost a lot of money in a short period of time, and for her it was relative because she had so much money. She lost a lot of money and people took advantage of her. Iím going to try and go as long as I can and try and integrate both to try and be somewhat reputable and try and make money, too, because obviously thatís what Iím trying to set out for, to try and make money. I have a family, and they want to eat, and if theyíre anything like me theyíre going to want to eat a lot. So thatís what Iím trying to do, just trying to keep the fighter in mind all the time.
Q: Itís been over two years since your last fight with Evander Holfyeild.
A: Has it been that long? It doesnít seem that long.
Q: Is that your longest time off from the ring?
A: I think so, yes.
Q: Now my question for you is, have you ever missed being in the ring since this time, and have you ever considered the possibility of having one last fight perhaps even as part of one of your promotional events?
A: Only twenty-three hours a day, it used to be twenty-four. Itís subsided to twenty-three hours a day. Iím one of those guys I donít sleep much at all. I probably get three hours a night, and Iím working out all the time. Iím one of those crazy guys who just works out all the time. I canít stop, so I enjoy it. Iím probably working out harder than most guys when Iím not training than guys that do train, especially now days when guys arenít training that much. Iím just a fanatical workout guy and I like doing it. I enjoy it.
Itís funny, the heavyweight on our card, Steve Collins, he needed some sparring the guys didnít show up, so I sparred with him on probably like four different occasions. They were laughing saying Iím a ďfull service promoterĒ. I even spar with my fighters. If my wife would let me, Iím not going to lie to you, I would be in there tomorrow. Iíd like to fight one ultimate fight, too, but my wife, sheís not going to let me do regular boxing so I donít think sheís going to let me ultimate fight.
Q: So we shouldnít expect you in the ring on one of your cards in the future for a final fight?
A: If my wife was out of the country, I could slip it by, it might work, but sheís pretty eminent about me not fighting. Listen, Iím always thinking tomorrow Iím going to get the phone call, and Iím ready. If somebody pulls out of a huge title fight, and was supposed to fight Klitschko, and Iím going to step in. Thatís the way I dream about it all the time, so I canít lie to you.
Q: Lou, I once asked you in the past how you would ultimately like to be remembered as a fighter and you mentioned that Max Kellerman once put it best when he referred to you as ďan old school fighter who always gave it his bestĒ, and this is how you would like to be remembered. Now, I know youíre new to this, but as you go down the line how would you ultimately like to be remembered as a promoter say, ten, twenty, thirty years down the road?
A: You got to give everybody a fair shake, and thatís all I can say. How many promoters have you heard that about? None. So maybe Iím going for an unrealistic goal. Itís funny, I argued with a promoter probably ten years ago. I donít want to say who it was, but I remember sitting in the car driving around Miami with him and I was talking about fighters and what we should give them and how they should have some kind of union, and this and that. He said, ďBut why would I do that? They donít want it. They wouldnít want it, anywayĒ.
I found that offensive, and some of the stuff he said was a little bit true. Just in my short period of time, you try and help some of these guys out. Itís not only our sport itís in all walks of life. Some people donít really want the help, but in boxing the thing is that, in other sports, thereís always been some kind of structure and education, even if itís not really an Ivy League school. Thereís still some kind of structure with education. Not until recently has there been guys that come out of high school and go right into the pros. With boxing, unfortunately, guys arenít that educated. It doesnít mean theyíre not smart, but theyíre just not educated and I think that really plays over to so many of us. Even now, I mean myself, itís hard, even if you have an idea about investing itís really hard. Real estate is not good, but some of these poor guys have no idea. Theyíve never been taught how to invest their money or how to do simple things likeóI mean, itís not simpleóbut retirement for a self-employed person. These guys donít know anything about that.
Look at even (Floyd) Mayweather. Hereís a guy whoís incredible, one of the best fighters of my era, and I donít know how much is true and how much is false, but theyíre saying he was almost six million dollars in the hole. How can that be? Heís just made so much money. Thatís just sad to me, I mean, thatís really just sad.
Q: Now Lou, for my final question, is there anything else you want to say to all your fans out at East Side Boxing?
A: Well thanks for being fans, hopefully, and hopefully I gave you guysóI always tried to give you my best when I was fighting. I wasnít the best defensive specialist but I would keep trying. And then with the promoting , I feel good about it because Iím one of these guys that canít do anything half-throttle. I go full force, and Iím pretty pumped up about it. Itís funny, I got a call from a boxing writer just recently and he said, ďWow! Youíre doing your second show.Ē He almost seemed surprised, and I said, ďWhatís so surprising?Ē And he said, ďMost of the guys theyíll just do one show and thatís itĒ. I really like it. Everybody said it couldnít be done, because the hotel that I just did the fight in was super expensive. The room was probably three or four more times than anyone else, and they said it couldnít be done. I didnít make a lot of money, but I made a little bit of money, so from what Iím hearing thatís pretty good to make. And now this time, theyíve cut the fees in half, so hopefully Iíll make a pretty good score this time. So hopefully it will work out good.
I would like to thank Lou Savarese for his time and wish him the best of luck in all future endeavors as a promoter and as a businessman. I hope his second card, ďFist of FuryĒ is a success and I hope he continues promoting fight cards in the future.
To hear more from Lou Savarese, listen to his exclusive interview from On the Ropes Boxing Radio: