Exclusive Interview With Boxing Promoter Tom Tsatas

by James Slater - Tom Tsatas, former long-time manager of heavyweight contender Fres Oquendo, is now a promoter. The new head of Hitz Boxing, Tom is looking towards putting on great, value for money shows for the fans.

Tsatas' maiden show as promoter takes place on the 20th of this month, with Oquendo headlining (there will also be a big name on the under-card) and all involved expect a great night.

Very kindly taking the time to talk with me earlier today, Tom spoke about some of the ideas he has for giving boxing fans better quality shows..

Here are Tom's answers to my questions:

James Slater: It's great to speak with you, Tom, as always. You have a lot of news to speak about - first of all, you are now the president of Hitz Boxing, and a promoter, not a manager?

Tom Tsatas: So they tell me (laughs). I'm a lot busier now, I tell you that. I'm not really what you'd call a promoter, per se. Bobby Hitz, who I've known for years, I basically work for him. This is my first crack at being a promoter for real, even though I have had some experience in the past. The show on February 20th, with Fres Oquendo headlining, is a big show - our first big show. And I can tell you now, I can confirm, that George Foreman III will be on the card.

J.S: That's interesting. You obviously have two big names there, with Fres and "Monk" Foreman.

T.T: Yeah, it's not a bad card really, for a first show. I imagine Foreman will be fighting a 4 or 6-rounder - he's had what, five pro fights? This [Foreman III's appearance on the Feb. 20th card] really came about because of Bob Hitz' good working relationship with George Foreman Senior; he knows him well.

J.S: Bob Hitz fought Foreman!

T.T: Yeah, he did. So we'll see how Foreman III goes, but I'm excited to have such a big name involved on the card, and his dad always shows up when his son is fighting - so we'll have a legend in attendance also!

J.S: Which is the tougher job, being a promoter or a manager?

T.T: That's a very good question. I want to first put this show on, and then we'll see. I think the move to promoter was a natural progression for me. I want to put on good shows, great shows, for the fans. We want to have a little bit of everything; a bigger name, a crowd-pleaser - everything for the fans. We have a number of young fighters and we will see how far we can take them. There are a lot more responsibilities as a promoter, yet I also have more control in some ways. I want to see that my fighters are never taken advantage of. I can be honest, because I'm not in this to make money. I want to make sure the fans have a good night and go home happy. That's the most important thing, to put on great events for the fans.

J.S: I was talking to Fres yesterday. He says he wants a Klitschko after he beats Demetrice King on Feb. 20th.

T.T: I've told Fres he has a very tough fight ahead of him on February 20th. Demetrice is a tough guy, and he'll be no walk in the park for Fres. I've told Fres he better be ready for 12 hard rounds - a hellish night. The thing is, if Fres were to lose, I'd say, 'well, I think he lost.' It's all about honesty; that's why I respect Freddie Roach - he tells it like it is. That's my attitude. But I've told Fres, we cannot afford to look past this fight.

J.S: As promoter, what type of T.V coverage are you looking at, for this show and for future shows? Or is the internet the way to go perhaps?

T.T: Yeah, internet streaming could be the way to go. Internet coverage has not done as much as it could so far. Or we could look at local pay-per-view. ESPN is great, I love their announcers and their coverage. But the T.V networks can control your card to some degree, in terms of who your fighter fights. Basically, if we get T.V, then great, if not, well, you can't base your whole company on someone else's philosophy.

J.S: You have said how you want to make changes to boxing shows, to help its popularity. What kind of things have you in mind?

T.T: I don't want to copy someone else, but you can't argue with success. I mean, wrestling is a joke to many, yet it fills out stadiums. UFC can be fantastic, the way its fan base has built and built. And MMA, you can't argue with the way they put on great shows - even if the fights aren't that good sometimes, the fans have a good time, a good night. Part of it is putting on a good under-card, with no "snoozers." You build up your product and your event and see to it that the fans FEEL the show; that they get some of the glitz and the atmosphere - the lights and the energy. You get out of it what you put into it. Hard work pays back, and you can't argue with the way MMA promotes its fights into real events each time out.

J.S: What do you think of so-called hybrid match-ups, with MMA fighters facing boxers? James Toney has talked about maybe fighting an MMA guy soon.

T.T: It depends on who the fighters are. Someone like Toney, if he gets taken down, he could get embarrassed - he could get a broken arm even. If he can catch a guy on the way in, he might have a chance; of course he's tough and full of heart. But if he gets taken down! I've worked with both sports, and I respect both. Boxing, to me, is more of a sport, but MMA is great too. Boxing and the way its promoted can certainly learn from MMA, no doubt. In my heart I'll always prefer boxing, but you have to move with the times.

J.S: Overall, how good a shape would you say boxing is in right now?

T.T: The best nights in my bar are the nights when there are the really big fights - like with Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather and those guys. But after those fights have been done, I don't know what else there will be to look ahead to in the immediate future. Of course, Super-Six is a great idea, but MMA is more consistent overall at giving its fans the great nights. I don't think boxing will ever die, it's been around for a hundred years, but things have to change. I mean, people know the names of Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar and Chuck Liddell - even though they haven't even seen them fight! So how can you argue with that? We need to make boxing as big and as mainstream as that, like it was before.

Article posted on 06.02.2010

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