After much hoopla and many predictions of success, professional boxing in Ventura has quietly come to an end, according to Bill Detko, Ventura Theatre special projects manager.
"I'm sorry to say that professional boxing is dead in Ventura," Detko said. "They just pulled out and said they would not be coming back to Ventura ever again."
The promoters, LBA Associates of Costa Mesa, confirmed that there would be no more cards at the Ventura Theatre.
"Boxing is dead in Ventura and moving on to Long Beach," said Paul Konapelsky, president of LBA. Only three cards were staged at the theater.
"We have hit our heads against the wall with no response from local sponsors. We can't make it without sponsors and we can't force people to show up," Konapelsky said. "All I can say is that boxing was not profitable or economically feasible and we won't be back."
LBA had announced in February that it would stage one boxing show a month for six months in Ventura before making a final decision on whether professional boxing in the area was viable. The promoters also proclaimed that Ventura had great potential for the sport.
LBA put on cards in March and April before being plagued by promotional problems and inconsistent fight cards. After a two-month layoff, boxing returned in July. That proved to be the final card.
"I can't explain it, but boxing in Ventura County has been a very tough draw for some reason," Konapelsky said. "For example, in our closed-circuit broadcast of the Leonard--Hearns fight in June, our outlet in Palm Springs did great, but all of our Ventura County outlets did terrible. Ventura just isn't a boxing area."
Detko, who was involved with LBA's promotions at the theater, said that a constituency was building in the first two months but that the missed dates, inconsistent promoting and weak cards promoted a lack of interest.
Said Detko: "They never had the cards together and in three months of boxing we never saw one knockdown. The cancelled shows and the lack of cohesive cards really hurt something that was growing. After all the card problems and not being able to keep a show together, I think the people started to think these promoters must be a bunch of flakes."
Konapelsky said that there are no guarantees when putting together a local fight card. "We can't guarantee fight cards on the lower caliber of boxing that we were trying to put on at the local level," he said. "This just isn't the same as promoting a Mike Tyson fight with six months' advanced billing."
While LBA is heading for what it feels are greener pastures in Long Beach, Detko said he is in the process of talking to Oxnard promoters about bringing pro kick boxing to the Ventura Theatre.