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Lou DiBella: No Joe Palooka
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BOOK REVIEWS AND EXCERPTS:
Photographs by Jim
The Iceman Diaries
by John Scully
The Boxing Bookshelf
by Dave Iamele
No Joe Palooka
By Dave Iamele
Lou DiBella is a relatively new boxing promoter/manager with barely five years under his
belt, but his prior job at HBO, in which he helped to put together their high-profile
boxing shows, provided him with most of what he needed to know to be successful in the
tough boxing business. DiBella's first big-name client was the recently dethroned
middleweight king, Bernard Hopkins, and his latest star, interestingly enough, is the man
who did the dethroning, Jermain Taylor.
DiBella also happened to be the promoter for the sparsely attended October 21 boxing show
at the Turning Stone. All you need to know about that card is that Utica's Young Prince,
Jamar Patterson, remains undefeated -- now 4-0 with 3 KO's. He won at 2:58 of Round 1 in
one of the worst "referee stops bouts" I've ever seen. However, the ref pulling the
trigger too quickly should not detract from Patterson's impressive victory. His coach, Tim
Greene, tells me Jamar will be fighting his first six-rounder at the 'Stone in December. I
hope to see more local support on hand then. Anyway, back to Lou DiBella...
I took advantage of his ringside presence to ask him about promoting at the Turning Stone,
his upcoming show in December featuring Hopkins-Taylor II, and how he's enjoying promoting
boxing now that he's five years in the game. Here are Lou's thoughts:
DAVE IAMELE: This is your first promotion here at The Turning Stone Events Center.
Hopefully, you'll be back?
LOU DIBELLA: I just saw Thomas "The Hit Man" Hearns at
ringside! This card has competitive fights [actually, it didn't], and you've got the
opportunity to see some good local talent, some up-and coming talent, like Jamar
Patterson. This card is all welterweights; that's very unusual. Broadway Boxing has become
a pretty great series. We've been getting a lot of attention in the New York area, and we
really feature New York fighters. Our previous casino sponsor was in Connecticut, and I
wanted something in New York. The Turning Stone embraced the series, and they are now our
casino sponsor. We'll be up here three or four times a year, and this is the first time
that people have gotten to see the type of fights we deliver, and I expect that we'll
build bigger crowds in the future and will develop a following because that's what we've
done in New York City, and that's what we're going to want to do at The Turning Stone.
This room is a great room for boxing, and I'm thrilled to be here, and I think we're gonna
make big things happen here in the future."
You promote the "chin-checkers." Are you going to bring them here?
right, I'll be back probably in February with Curtis Stevens and Jaidon "The Don"
Codrington. I'm looking to do some really fun stuff up here, and you're going to see a lot
of quality prospects -- some of the best in boxing -- fighting at the Turning Stone.
Of course, looking about six weeks into the future, you've got...
Taylor! Taylor-Hopkins: the rematch. It's one of the biggest fights that could be made in
boxing right now. The first fight...you know I thought Jermain dominated the fight. He
easily won the first eight rounds, and he legitimately won the fight. Bernard's been
complaining since the fight, and this is really the one to settle the score. Your know,
Jermain has got to put the exclamation point on his win and a period on the end of
Hopkins' career and put him into retirement. He's a great fighter, and he's had a Hall of
Fame career, but it's time for the baton to be passed. It's time for Jermain to establish
himself as the next great middleweight champion.
The way the fight looked to me on TV is that Bernard just gave away too much of the
first part of the fight.
He lost at least seven of the first eight rounds. I
thought the fight was over after eight rounds. And, yeah, he won -- he dominated -- the
last four rounds, but it was too late.
He finished strong.
The majority of the public knows Jermain won the fight, and
you know what? December 3 it isn't even going to be close. The younger, faster kid is
going to dominate the old man. You know, you don't get better at 41; you get better at
This is going to be do-or-die for Bernard.
Well, it's time to walk off into the
sunset. He's a Hall of Famer, he's got nothing else to prove, you know? If Jermain beats
him soundly, it's time for Bernard to walk away. And, on the undercard you get to see the
continuing comeback of Ike "Bazooka" Quartey! He retired at 29 and came back at 34; he had
a sensational fight with Verno Phillips on HBO. He looked impressive in that fight, and
he's coming back on the televised undercard of the Taylor-Hopkins fight, and that will be
a great fight.
Okay: Jermain Taylor...
Best young fighter in boxing! [Laughs]
Pat Burns is his trainer. I've talked with Pat, and I think he's good for Jermain. He's
a no-nonsense kind of guy. Will he be sticking around for a while?
ultimately that's going to be between Jermain and Pat and the management team. He's taken
him from his pro debut to the undisputed middleweight championship, so it's worked so far,
and I think Pat's done a very good job with Jermain. Right now Jermain's got a good corner
and tremendous talent, and I think December 3 he's gonna show that he's the future of
Jermain's still a young kid, do you see him...
Moving up in weight? Yeah. I see
big fights with guys like Antonio Tarver at light-heavyweight. I see a fight with Jeff
Lacy at 168 lbs, Joe Calzeghe at 168. We would love to get our hands on [Fernando] Vargas
or [Shane] Mosley. I don't know if they're crazy enough to fight Jermain, but I think
those would be great fights for him. There's no shortage of big-name opponents; Ike
Quartey and Jermain is a fight that could happen next year. So, I think there are a lot of
potential big fights, but you know, as old as Hopkins is, we're not looking past him on
December 3rd because we're fighting a Hall of Famer and Hopkins closed that first fight
strong. He's going to come out with some confidence, and Jermain's got to keep his wits
about him and impose himself on Hopkins because Jermain is the younger, stronger, faster
man. And bigger.
Let's talk about you for a minute. You've been promoting and managing for about five
I've been in boxing for 16 years now, promoting for five.
How has that worked out for you? Are you happy promoting?
Well, I'm enjoying
myself; I've learned a lot. I'm a much better promoter now than I was five years ago. At
the same time, boxing is a hard way to make a living. I've diversified a little bit: I've
got a production company working on a couple of movie projects; I own a minor-league
baseball team, the Connecticut Defenders, a San Francisco Giants AA team. I'm the
president and managing partner. So, I'm branching out, and I think I'll keep my hands in
boxing, but I don't want to be "Joe Palooka" the rest of my life. I don't want to just do
boxing, I want...I love the sport but it's got a lot of issues and problems. You know, I
want to mix my life up a little bit more, and boxing will be part of my company and part
of my life, but it's not going to be all I do.
Boxing's a tough business. How much crap you went through managing Hopkins, him suing
you -- I mean, that's got to break your heart.
That did break my heart, and
Hopkins would still be fighting $200,000 fights if it wasn't for me. I brought him to that
Trinidad fight, to that opportunity. I convinced him to do what he needed to do to be a
superstar. I believed in him when other people didn't, and he screwed me badly, and I'll
never forget that. But, I'm still pro-fighter, and I've always been pro-fighter, but my
eyes are a lot more open now, and there are as many fighters who are bad guys as there are
anywhere. Boxing is an industry where the general ambiance is people screwing one another.
There's very little trust, and there's very little loyalty. But, I'll always be
pro-fighter, but I won't be pro-fighter blindly.
We're in the backyard of the Boxing Hall of Fame. Have you ever been here in June for
You know what? I've always had a fight that weekend, so I've
never been, but I'm going to make it down there. I've been to the Hall of Fame. It would
be nice if we could expand it, make it bigger, but Ed Brophy does a great job, and it's a
great place to stop by and visit if you're a boxing fan. And one of these days, if Ed gets
his hands on some more money, we can do some more things with the Hall of Fame.
Well, your getting your shows in here at the 'Stone, so maybe we'll see you at this
year's Hall of Fame weekend?
I think you will see me here Hall of Fame weekend,
and I think you're going to see me in upstate New York a lot more. Who knows, maybe one of
these days I'll get myself into the Hall of Fame in Canastota. You never know!
Thanks for your time, Lou.
Contact Dave Iamele at