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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Promoter Wants to Go the Distance

Ex-fighter Ron Williams tries to attract regular audience for his pro boxing cards at Hyatt Valencia.

June 23, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VALENCIA — Ron Williams is ready for round three of the fight game. Not as a prizefighter, although he's thrown his share of combinations in the ring. As a promoter.

The third professional boxing show in a program rapidly gaining momentum will take place Saturday night at the Hyatt Valencia, highlighted by a 12-round main event between Israel Correa of Oxnard and Roger Medal of Pasadena for the WBC FECAR junior lightweight championship.

Williams, 49, is far from the first entrepreneur to promote boxing in the region. But he is still standing after two well-received shows in February and April in the Hyatt's grand ballroom. Each featured competitive bouts between young fighters and drew more than 500 spectators.

Not bad for openers, but well below numbers needed to support a lasting promotion.

For Saturday's show, Williams will employ the longtime promoter staple of staging an outdoor show in a makeshift arena in the hotel parking lot. He expects his first Saturday night audience to be his biggest to date.

He also expects to take a few more blows at the gate before getting on his feet as a promoter. But that's boxing.

"My profit margin is not there yet," said Williams, who launched RW Promotions last year with his wife and family members. "We're still establishing ourselves. But hopefully, we'll establish a clientele that will be with us in the long run. I guess that's what a lot of promoters aren't willing to do, and that's ride it out."

Williams began boxing as a 12-year-old in Chicago youth clubs and was 25-2 as an amateur. In recent years, Williams has supervised a youth facility in Glendale, training young fighters and sharpening his eye for talent.

His ties to the sport and passion for attending as many bouts as he can has helped him act as his own matchmaker, another method of saving expenses.

But then, diamond rings and pay-per-view royalties aren't really the point.

"It's very fulfilling because I do sincerely feel I'm helping young athletes with a venue in this area to come and showcase their talents," Williams said. "Like anything, it does become difficult. Matches fall out and you have to worry about liability. But if you do everything above board and not cut corners, things take off eventually."

Young boxers with only a handful of bouts under their belts typically fight for about $100 a round. Williams said he is paying fighters "a little bit more."

In addition, about $2,000 from the gate is donated after the show to the local boys and girls clubs in Santa Clarita. "That's something we're committed to doing," Williams said.

Local boxing has waned in recent years. The Reseda Country Club, a longtime home to prizefighting, has not staged a bout since December 1998. The Warner Center Marriott, the site of monthly boxing programs during the mid-1990s, hasn't hosted a fight since 1996.

Scheduling of subsequent local shows has been sporadic.

All of which motivated Williams, a Santa Clarita resident, to consider promoting. His next show is tentatively scheduled for August.

"It was two or three years of planning before we jumped into promotions here," Williams said. "The response we got, mainly from sponsorship, was that it would be something worth trying. I targeted this area because there is not a lot of entertainment in our valley. Personally, I got kind of annoyed having to go to the Forum or the Pond or other places to enjoy boxing. I knew people out here liked boxing, so I figured I'd take a stab at it."

Williams' inaugural show on a Friday night in February was a sellout of 700. On that card, Medal defeated Felipe Campa for the California junior lightweight championship.

"His fights have been good and he's doing a good job," said Dean Lohuis, chief inspector of the California State Athletic Commission.

The bout between Medal (11-4 with four knockouts) and Correa (8-2, one knockout) figures to be a credible main event. Both are similar in size and styles. Both lost decisions to William Abelyan of Glendale.

The undercard will feature four four-round bouts, including a women's bantamweight match between Paula Fey of Los Angeles and Bertha Gonzales of Panorama City.

The card includes Juan Ruiz and Kim Bain of Newhall in separate bouts. Artyom Galstyan of Glendale and Ulises Pena of North Hills will square off in a lightweight bout.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

FIGHT CARD

* Israel Correa (8-2; 1 knockout) vs. Roger Medal (11-4; 4 KOs), 12 rounds, WBC FECAR junior lightweight championship

* Juan Ruiz (1-0) vs. Arturo Flores (3-0), four rounds, super bantamweights

* Juan Rodriguez (0-1) vs. Kim Bain (pro debut), four rounds, welterweights

* Artyom Galstyan (0-1) vs. Ulises Pena (2-0), four rounds, lightweights

* Paula Fey (1-2) vs. Bertha Gonzales (0-1), four rounds, women's bantamweight

Hyatt Valencia (24500 Town Center Drive)

Saturday (starts at 7:30 p.m.)

Tickets are $35 to $75

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