New York, NY (1/28/13) – Last Thursday, Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment and 50 Centof SMS Promotions hosted an international media conference call to discuss the upcoming ESPN Friday Night Fights card on March 1, at MGM Grand at Foxwoods. In the main event, SMS Promotions IBF Featherweight Champion Billy “The Kid” Dib (35-1, 21KO’s) looks to defend his title against Cuban Olympian and IBF #3 rated Luis Franco (11-1, 7KO’s). In the televised co-feature, former amateur standout and now top-ten rated junior middleweight contender Willie Nelson (19-1-1, 11KO’s) squares off against Michael Medina (26-3-2, 19KO’s) in a 10-round showdown for Nelson’s NABF junior middleweight title. The Nelson-Medina bout is promoted in association with Rumble Time Promotions. Both bouts will be aired on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Below is a complete transcript from the call.
Lou DiBella: Thanks everybody for joining us. It’s my pleasure on behalf of DiBella Entertainment to announce that we’ll be co-promoting a show with 50 Cent, SMS Promotions to present a great night of ESPN Friday Night Fights on Friday, March 1 at the MGM Theater at Foxwoods. And we’re really looking forward to what’s going to be a great event. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m., the first fight will go on at 7, ESPN’s title cast will go live at 9 p.m.
Tickets are priced affordably with the VIP ringside of $200 going down to a ringside of $100 and then there’s $75 tickets and $40 tickets. And tickets will go on sale next week at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Box Office. You can contact them for more information.
I’d like to first introduce a man that’s been a really good friend of DiBella Entertainment and to boxing on the East Coast. I think the MGM at Foxwoods is one of the great boxing venues in the country. A number of great fighters have fought there in recent years there’s been some terrific fights like Berto-Ortiz and Sergio Martinez and Dzinziruk had taken place there among many others. And I’d like to introduce the President of Foxwoods Scott Butera.
Scott Butera: Thank you very much Lou. This is Scott Butera, President and CEO of Foxwoods the premier destination resort in the Northeast. We at Foxwoods are very exciting about hosting this event on March 1. Foxwoods has been dedicated to conducting world class boxing throughout its history and certainly this event on March 1 will be no exception. We really feel that when you add the prominence of 50 Cent, SMS Productions, Lou DiBella and obviously ESPN which you’ve had a long standing relationship with it’s just going to lead to a spectacular night.
Obviously (main event) is incredibly exciting with the Billy The Kid Dib taking on Luis Franco and my experience with (unintelligible) team is we’ll have a under card that’ll be equally as entertaining. So we look forward to a spectacular evening. I can promise everyone the crowd will be robust and we just hope everyone has a great time. But once again we’re very proud to be part of this event and know it will be another world class second to none boxing event.
Lou DiBella: Thank you Scott. The next gentlemen I’d like to introduce is the Director of Programming for ESPN sports. He’s the Manager in charge of ESPN boxing and he helped put this terrific card together. The co-feature bout will feature Willie Nelson 19-1-1 with 11 knockouts defending his NABF Junior Middleweight championship against Michael Medina who’s 26-3 and 2 with 19 KO’s. That’s a bout that could stand as a main event on its own scheduled for 10 rounds and has promoted an association with Rumble Time Promotions.
And then the main event terrific fight between IBF Featherweight Champion Billy Dib 35-1 and 21 KO’s defending his title against Cuban Olympian and IBF Number 3 rated Luis Franco 11 and 1 with 7 KO’s but Franco’s amateur credentials were astounding with hundreds of amateur wins against very few defeats and Franco won pretty much every international competition that could be won. So that’s a terrific fight.
So I’d like to introduce the Director of Programming for ESPN Doug Loughrey.
Doug Loughrey: Hey thanks Lou. I definitely want to echo, you know, Scott’s sentiments too. I think we have a great conversion of brands here between 50 Cent and SMS Promotional Company, yours and DiBella Entertainment and our long history as well with Foxwoods. You know, ESPN in its 15th year Friday Night Fights continues to service not only the sports fan but clearly the boxing fan here and our reach between ESPN 2 and ESPN Deportes allows us in the United States to service both the English and Spanish fans in well over a hundred million homes.
As well this year we’ve been able to get the ESPN Watch program for ESPN 2 implemented, you know, allowing the boxing fan to see our fights on the best as possible. So, you know, just adding up with just talking thereto between the two fights we’re looking for an exciting night. I think doing my quick math here and I might be off as we’re talking about a total of 57, 58 knock outs between theses four fighters featured in the co-feature and main event.
So small things are good from our end and in partnership with you guys and it’s going to leave it now to the combatants to come forward and present the fan there in Foxwoods at the MGM Theater as well as home with a spectacular night of entertainment.
Lou DiBella: Thank you Doug. The next gentlemen I’m going to introduce really doesn’t need an introduction in fact he doesn’t need one almost anyplace he goes. He’s a brand onto himself one of the great stars of hip hop and icon in the world of hip hop but also a very accomplished entrepreneur and someone that’s going to make a mark in boxing and I’m really proud to work with him. He is the promoter of the World Champion Billy Dib and the promoter of this main event.
And it’s my pleasure to introduce the man who runs SMS Promotions 50 Cent.
50 Cent: This is exciting for me March 1, I get a chance to do it and in Connecticut it’s actually it’s still in my background like I feel like I’m at home out there. So you’ll get a chance to see me bring the festivities that come. Of course you’ll see some of my actual friends from the music culture, there’s pop and then just because the actual event is my very first event that I’m actually getting a chance to come from the actual ground up, co-promoting that. Of course the first one was December 8 with Manny Pacquiao and Gamboa the co-promotion with Top Rank.
But this actual project is from the entire conception of the date going through the entire process. So I’m going to put my back into it. We’re definitely going to have a really good night in entertainment and have both Billy and Franco I believe are going to come on the actual A game. You know, so Billy’s been training longer than actual (usually) for this actually bout that he had – we had (unintelligible) involved and the actual process that delayed this actual match from actually happening.
But I expect nothing but the best possible entertainment for the night and I’m going to put my actual energy into marketing this project to make it a success from this point on.
50 Cent: Right now I want to introduce Billy The Kid Dib.
Billy Dib: How you doing guys. I just want to thank – first of all I just want to thank the MGM folks, I want to thank you Lou for the opportunity and 50 Cent, thank so much you know how much you really to me. And ESPN for the great opportunity to, you know, to headline their card. So and, you know, basically I just want you all to know that I’m not just coming out there to win but I’m coming out to make a serious statement. You know, there’s a lot of featherweights fighting around that time and I want to show the world that I’m the best featherweight in the world.
You know, 50 Cent believes in me, my team believes in me, I believe in me and I believe a win will come out there and we’re going to knock Luis Franco out.
Lou DiBella: That’s a bold prediction by Billy Dib and that sedge ways right into introducing his opponent who is a great Cuban amateur IBF Number 3 rated featherweight Luis Franco and I think Richard Dobal his translator is with us too. So Richard if you could – Luis could say a few words.
Luis Franco: I want to thank my management team for having gotten me to this point. I want to thank ESPN and Foxwoods as well as Lou DiBella and 50 Cent. We’re ecstatic about being a part of his first show and we think he’s great for boxing. My message to Billy Dib is whatever he has to say to me he can say it to me in the ring the night of fight.
Lou DiBella: For those who – actually 50 you will be walking Billy Dib and performing him into the ring.
Lou DiBella: So if anyone who got to see that Fight Night with Manny Pacquiao and 50’s entrance with Gamboa how to treat that night and I think any – everybody that is there on March 1 is going to be in for a treat…
Q & A:
Billy Dib: Well, you know, like you just said, now this is basically my opportunity to showcase my ability to the American fans after four years of being out from the scene. You know, I’ve hired a new team, I’ve been working with my team now for some years and, you know, I’m going on to capture one of the main straps in boxing today which is the IBF title. Basically, you know, I bring – I’m bringing versatility now and excitement to the ring. So, you know, I’m not going to (unintelligible).
I’m confident in myself and I believe that I’m going to defend my title in a spectacular fashion on that event.
Billy Dib: Well, you know, 50 Cent’s my promoter (and he knows) as I told him basically all I want to do is fight, you know, I just want to get out there and fight. I just want to get in the ring that’s what I love doing, boxing is my love so, you know, I just want to be out there showcasing my ability and giving the fans the fight that they want to see. In saying that, you know, Franco’s a, you know, is a hell of a fighter, has an amazing amateur record, he’s not the Number 1 contender by accident, you know, he was robbed in his (eliminator), I believe, and now he’s given the opportunity to fight for the world title.
So, you know, I think, you know, the boxing gods have helped Luis Franco in that manner. But, you know, I’m coming out to make a statement and then if any of the other featherweights out there who want to step up and defend their title or unify the title I’m ready. You know, 50 Cent’s ready, I’m ready, my team’s ready, let’s do it.
50 Cent: Yes I been in communications with Chris John so we’re looking to try and make a fight as soon as possible I just got to go through, you know, politics, you already know.
50 Cent: Yes well we got to take it one at a time because I’m expanding the actual (roster) of the fighters at the next promotion so I’ll be picking up – every – I’ll be picking up some people you already recognize it’s just, you know, a matter of dates, picking and contractual agreements and, you know, just got to spread some of the love got to get some of the money out.
Luis Franco: I am training very hard because not only do I need to win, but I need to win impressively.
Billy Dib: My training camp has been different ever since I lost my 2008 fight, you know, I’ve been working extremely hard to win my fight and, you know, basically not just win but go out there and, you know, give the best performance that I can. So, yes I think, you know, on that day you guys are going to see something really, really special. And as I said, before, you know, I’m not just coming out to win, you know, I’m coming out to (do some) damage. So, you know, I’m coming to make a statement and show the world that 50 Cent run the best featherweight in the world.
50 Cent: Absolutely I like to look at this as the start of a new relationship that could be long term so we, you know, to actually have the first one there is going to be exciting and easy for me to actually make a lot of people aware that it’s actually taking place because I mean that in itself we’ll be able to bring people out.
Scott Butera: And this is Scott Butera from Foxwoods I can’t tell you how enthusiastic we are to have 50 here. We would host one of his events anytime, anywhere so we look forward to it as well.
Billy the Kid Dib: Yes, you know, I definitely think that Luis Franco is a very talented fighter and he’s not somebody that I’m taking lighting. I know that he’s only had 12 professional fights but he had an extensive amateur career. He was a very impressive amateur and I mean he has really impressed me as a professional as well. He showed good, you know, good grit and I think he’s made the transition well.
But I’m a seasoned professional and I’ve been doing this now for a long, long time. I’m the – I’m (full) champion and, you know, like I said, you know, I’m cleaning living, you know, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I live by boxing that’s what I do I love to fight. And yes it is important that I come out and make a statement you know what I mean? And, you know, I need to come out there and make a statement and let the world of boxing know that, you know, Billy Dib has arrived.
This is my opportunity and, you know, in 2013 that’ll be the year that Billy Dib did arrive on the world scene.
Billy Dib: Well basically 50 Cent got in touch with our management which is my brother Emaid he’s my manager and, you know, he was (unintelligible) flight over to Vegas to catch up with him. He was a gentlemen, you know, we sat down. The deal was done over dinner so, you know, 50 Cent is a gentlemen, he’s a great business man and, you know, he made a couple of promises and he delivered on every promises and look now here we are March 1 at the Connecticut MGM at the Foxwoods Resort we’re going to get ready to go out there and devastate the world of boxing.
Luis Franco: I have watched tape of Billy Dib and I have an idea of what I am going to do in the ring come fight now. Billy Dib that said he’s going to do damage. I want you to say that to my face the day of the weigh in.
Lou DiBella: You know, the one thing about 50 is 50 has been a promoter his whole career so not a boxing promoter but, you know, the man knows a lot about promotion and has a lot to offer in terms of his own ideas. So it’s really been more of a give and take of ideas and, you know, boxing is not the easiest business in (unintelligible) there’s a lot of politics. I think that’s one of the things that, you know, hard to get used to at first but he’s in the music business and in the music business there’s a lot of politics also.
So, you know, I figure it’s more just a matter of helping him to get acclimated to the different players in the, you know, out there in the industry and, you know, but really I’m thrilled about the opportunity to work together because I could learn as much from 50 as I could possibly, you know, teach him. I may know a little more about the boxing industry right now but 50 delivers a whole different demographic, a whole different way of marketing, you know, his fan base is huge and it crosses until like loads of demographics but particularly hits, you know, the young demographic that boxing so badly needs.
So I’m really thrilled to be able to work with 50 particularly on bringing new eyeballs and new fans to boxing.
Billy Dib: Yes look, you know, I don’t think this is a, you know, is one of those scenarios, you know, I’ve been doing my homework, I’ve been working extremely hard and I know as you guys know once you do your homework and you enter the test you pass it with flying colors. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen, you know, I’m the Champion of the World, you know, I didn’t get there by accident I beat a really good guy to win the world title I’ve defended it twice.
So, you know, I’m not World Champion by accident. I’m going to be defending my title for the third time and I’m going to be walking away with victory. You know, Luis Franco says, and I don’t need to say it to his face I don’t need to say anything when I see him I’ll show him when I get in the ring my (fists) will do the talking.
Luis Franco: My main focus is taking the title away from Billy Dib. I mean I lost the fight in Argentina that’s what two other judges said and but I don’t want to get into that and crying over spilled milk it is what it is but I have gotten this opportunity against Billy Dib and that’s my main focus. Taking that title away from Billy Dib because that’s what will change his life.
50 Cent: Well it’s been a learning experience for me, you know, I actually got into it with intentions of developing it, you know, with a partner but instead, you know it’s been – I’ve been readjusting and I’ve been able to make partnerships with other established promoters that allow me to use their message out on some actual, you know, what things have to be done first and forward.
And as far as developing the staff one person at a time, you know, it’s pretty tough because boxing is surrounded there’s a lot of people within boxing that are needy so they do things out of desperation and you got to watch, you know, who’s who and really figure out who you need to be associated with and who you don’t need to be associated with so that’s been my experience in this actual process to this point.
Lou DiBella: I think as big as he (50) wants to be in this business. I mean if you have the ability to bring an audience to promote, if you have the ability to sign the right fighters and if you have the money to sustain the business and to pay the talent then, you know, you can compete. And, you know, there’s no promoter in boxing that’s got the Twitter followers or social media following or pop culture awareness of 50 Cent there’s nobody.
So, you know, what I’ve been impressed with frankly is like the fact that he is taking things in measured steps and he’s out there, you know, doing things smartly and working, you know, with promoters to make sure his fighters fight when they’re supposed to get – defend their titles, get their opportunities and he’s faced a difficult marketplace that hasn’t, you know, always been receptive and, you know, meanwhile everybody’s, you know, getting opportunities and 50’s going to announce associations with more fighters in the future.
So I think that really it’s a matter of how much time and effort he wants to put into this and I for what I’ve seen so far I think that SMS can be a force to compete. I think frankly there need to be promoters working together and it’s not about like monster companies it’s about making the best fights and it should be equal access for all promoters, to all networks and, you know, all venues to make the best fights. And I think if I expect big things from SMS because I’ve seen the effort and the time that 50’s putting into this.
I mean he spent an awful lot of time discussing this which is a very small deal on the scope of what he does in the music industry and his other businesses. So I think, you know, as big as he wants to be.
Lou DiBella: I want to point out, you know, what ESPN’s done so far this year and what Doug Loughrey did in buying this fight also. But 50 made the point that yes we’re going to be in front, you know, there are hundred million universe that this fight’s going to go out to domestically not to mention all ESPN’s foreign outlets and I think it’s going to be on Pay Per View in Australia.
But, you know, this event’s going to go all over the world and it’s going to get a huge, you know, audience on ESPN. And ESPN is reaching out now to grab, you know, some big fights and they have, you know, Lamont Peterson, Kendall and Kendall Holt which is a terrific for ESPN and this main event the World Championship Fight.
You know, they’ve gone out also and gone after a good product and, you know, we all think this is the right home for this fight because if Billy or, you know, looks sensational here defending his title that he’s doing it in front of the most – the biggest audiences he’s likely to be able, you know, to have been able to get. And it’s a great opportunity for Franco if he upsets the apple carts to be seen again on, you know, in front an ESPN audience. So I, you know, thanks to Doug Loughrey and ESPN for making this deal possible.
Luis Franco: Whenever I fight, whether when it was in the amateurs and on the biggest stages, or a pro, I always put on a good exciting show and this time it will be no different because it’s a battle between two champions. Billy Dib is a champion and I considerd myself a champion as well.
Lou DiBella: Thanks everybody for joining us. I want to remind everybody again it’s March 1 doors open at 6:30 first fight at 7, ESPN on the air at 9 the MGM Theater at Foxwoods a great night of boxing promoted by 50 Cent, SMS Promotions and by my DiBella Entertainment, $200 VIP seats, $100 ringside, $75 and $40. So it’s priced for the people very reasonably and you’ll get to see a world title fight and 50 Cent walk his champion into the ring on a great night of boxing on ESPN.
Tickets are priced at $200, $100, $75 and $40 and will be available for purchase this week through the MGM Grand Foxwoods Box Office by calling 1 (800) 200-2882