by Geoffrey Ciani – On August 6, former heavyweight contender Lou Savarese launched his first promotional event, “Thursday Night Throwdown”. 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 “Fists of Fury” 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 “Thursday Night Throwdown”. 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 don’t remember anything. You’re running around being the host.. I’ve 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. You’re running around nonstop, but it’s good this came to fruition. It’s 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, it’s Casa El Buen Samaritano, and it’s really neat. It’s actually a church my wife and I go to. It’s called Cross Point Church, but basically it’s like a hospital but all of the time is donated by physicians that go to our church for people that are indigent—well, 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 it’s all walks of life because the economy is so bad and there’s so many people out of work.
Q: Your second promotional event is coming up on October 8. This one is called “Fists of Fury”. Can you tell us a little bit about this upcoming fight card?
A: It’s kind of exciting. Just to back up a little bit, the place where we’re doing the fight, a lot of promoters have tried to get in there—it’s the biggest ballroom in Texas, it’s 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 didn’t want us, but we did a good event and they did really good with food and beverage that night, so now we’re coming back for the second time and we have a lot more leverage. It’s kind of a nice ‘marriage’, 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 who’s an up-and-coming guy who beat another fighter I work with, Nagy Aguilera. Darrel is an interesting guy. On paper he doesn’t look that good but he keeps winning and he’s 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 cliché, but being a boxer all this time looking at it from a fighter’s standpoint—and I saw it in Ultimate Fighting guys, even—these guys are really getting, and I don’t 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 there’s enough money going around and maybe do it with some integrity and everything. It’s been a problem for me to stop looking at it from a fighter’s standpoint and trying to look at it from a promoter’s standpoint, but it’s gotten more prevalent where guys like Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, guys are getting into promoting more. It’s 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, there’s nobody I don’t talk to, homeless people, everybody! My wife laughs and says, “Is there anybody you don’t talk to?” 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 don’t want to kid myself, but I would like to think that I’m going to be a little bit different in the sense that I’m going to try and do it with the fighter in mind. I guess that’s 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 didn’t 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. I’m 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 that’s what I’m trying to set out for, to try and make money. I have a family, and they want to eat, and if they’re anything like me they’re going to want to eat a lot. So that’s what I’m trying to do, just trying to keep the fighter in mind all the time.
Q: It’s been over two years since your last fight with Evander Holfyeild.
A: Has it been that long? It doesn’t 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. It’s subsided to twenty-three hours a day. I’m one of those guys I don’t sleep much at all. I probably get three hours a night, and I’m working out all the time. I’m one of those crazy guys who just works out all the time. I can’t stop, so I enjoy it. I’m probably working out harder than most guys when I’m not training than guys that do train, especially now days when guys aren’t training that much. I’m just a fanatical workout guy and I like doing it. I enjoy it.
It’s funny, the heavyweight on our card, Steve Collins, he needed some sparring the guys didn’t show up, so I sparred with him on probably like four different occasions. They were laughing saying I’m a “full service promoter”. I even spar with my fighters. If my wife would let me, I’m not going to lie to you, I would be in there tomorrow. I’d like to fight one ultimate fight, too, but my wife, she’s not going to let me do regularboxing so I don’t think she’s going to let me ultimate fight.
Q: So we shouldn’t 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 she’s pretty eminent about me not fighting. Listen, I’m always thinking tomorrow I’m going to get the phone call, and I’m ready. If somebody pulls out of a huge title fight, and was supposed to fight Klitschko, and I’m going to step in. That’s the way I dream about it all the time, so I can’t 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 “an old school fighter who always gave it his best”, and this is how you would like to be remembered. Now, I know you’re 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 that’s all I can say. How many promoters have you heard that about? None. So maybe I’m going for an unrealistic goal. It’s funny, I argued with a promoter probably ten years ago. I don’t 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, “But why would I do that? They don’t want it. They wouldn’t want it, anyway”.
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. It’s not only our sport it’s in all walks of life. Some people don’t really want the help, but in boxing the thing is that, in other sports, there’s always been some kind of structure and education, even if it’s not really an Ivy League school. There’s 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 aren’t that educated. It doesn’t mean they’re not smart, but they’re just not educated and I think that really plays over to so many of us. Even now, I mean myself, it’s hard, even if you have an idea about investing it’s really hard. Real estate is not good, but some of these poor guys have no idea. They’ve never been taught how to invest their money or how to do simple things like—I mean, it’s not simple—but retirement for a self-employed person. These guys don’t know anything about that.
Look at even (Floyd) Mayweather. Here’s a guy who’s incredible, one of the best fighters of my era, and I don’t know how much is true and how much is false, but they’re saying he was almost six million dollars in the hole. How can that be? He’s just made so much money. That’s just sad to me, I mean, that’s 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 guys—I always tried to give you my best when I was fighting. I wasn’t the best defensive specialist but I would keep trying. And then with the promoting , I feel good about it because I’m one of these guys that can’t do anything half-throttle. I go full force, and I’m pretty pumped up about it. It’s funny, I got a call from a boxing writer just recently and he said, “Wow! You’re doing your second show.” He almost seemed surprised, and I said, “What’s so surprising?” And he said, “Most of the guys they’ll just do one show and that’s it”. I really like it. Everybody said it couldn’t 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 couldn’t be done. I didn’t make a lot of money, but I made a little bit of money, so from what I’m hearing that’s pretty good to make. And now this time, they’ve cut the fees in half, so hopefully I’ll make a pretty good score this time. So hopefully it will work out good.
This article was also published at East Side Boxing