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Sporting Chance : Boxing

Southland Owners: What does the future hold for professional sports in the Los Angeles area? The owners of the Southland's pro teams provide some insight on what ot expect. Last in a Series

May 18, 1997|STEVE SPRINGER

Is there a future for boxing in Los Angeles?

Absolutely.

Is there a way to predict that future?

Absolutely not.

This much seems certain. With Las Vegas glittering just across the state line, Los Angeles will never be the site of major title fights. Not unless California legalizes gambling. There is no way a building like the Forum can compete with a Caesars Palace or an MGM Grand in the battle to lure major promoters such as Bob Arum or Don King. The large Las Vegas hotels can lay out huge sums for site fees because of the high-rollers they attract to big fights.

So Los Angeles seems relegated to attracting second-tier boxers. A boxing match can be held in the biggest and nicest, or smallest and dingiest of places. Fights can be held for the cigar-and-brandy, tuxedoed crowd, or the wine-and-beer blue-collar fan.

The only requirement is that the promoter make money.

With the demise of the Olympic Auditorium, long the bastion of boxing in Los Angeles, the Forum is the only long-running operation in town. Fights have been held there on a steady basis since 1982. But now, with the future of the Forum itself up in the air, it remains to be seen if Forum Boxing will outlast the building in which it was born.

In the San Fernando Vally, the Reseda Country Club has gone through several promoters and some dark periods, but is now back serving a small but enthusiastic clientele. In Orange County, the Irvine Marriott has become the site of a dependable, reputable boxing operation under the direction of Roy Englebrecht.

Elsewhere, fight cards have been staged from Oxnard to Beverly Hills, one surfacing as fast as another disappears.

Every time a retired champion such as 47-year-old Carlos Palomino decides he wants to put the gloves back on, there is a promoter ready to lace them up, a cash register clicking in that promoter's head.

Boxing isn't about to disappear from the L.A. scene, but just where it will appear in the future remains to be seen.

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