After celebrating their 5th anniversary earlier this year, Goodwin Boxing continues to go from strength-to-strength, with the fast-ring promotional/managerial firm enlisted to provide the undercard for David Haye’s Jan. 16 ring return. Here, Goodwin CEO, Steve Goodwin, speaks exclusively to SecondsOut.com, telling Olly Campbell, that the best is yet to come...
After Steve Goodwin’s then-teenage daughter, Olivia, was given the all-clear from Cancer, her father decided to help her set-about achieving her long-held dream of becoming a boxing promoter. This difficult, and frequently arduous journey, began with a low-key, four fight card in Milton Keynes way back in 2010, an endeavour Goodwin says he undertook while admittedly ’not really knowing what I was doing.’
In those early days of finding his feet, ’a few bad deals’ nearly put paid to the business before it had even got started, though irrespective of the sour taste he was initially left with, it didn’t take long for Goodwin – a financial advisor by trade – to ’get the bug’ for the boxing game, deciding he would set about trying to cultivate a management and promotional stable based on an ethical, ’fighters first’ approach, using his financial background to work in the best interest of the individual boxer rather than chase instant profit at their expense.
"This is our ethos. We work for the boxer," Goodwin told SecondsOut.com. "Whatever happens to be best for that particular fighter at that particular time, that is what we are interested in doing."
It’s an idea that has certainly caught on, and attracted much positive attention, with a tidal wave of fighters flocking to sign with Goodwin Boxing over the last five years, making Steve individually, the 2nd largest managerial stable in the UK at present. Not bad inside of five years. "We can’t complain with the progress we’re making, really," he tells me modestly.
Fast forward to December 2015, and thanks to that ethical approach, coupled with a dogged persistence and determination, Goodwin Boxing [encompassing Steve, Olivia, her younger brother Josh, and coach, Kevin Campion] has evolved into one of the fastest-growing and most respected promotional/managerial groups in the country, transforming fight nights at the famous York Hall in London’s Bethnal Green, by bringing a new and distinctive ’Premier Boxing Champions-esque,’ American-style branding to proceedings. The Goodwin team have installed a modern red/blue entrance platform, complete with a new lighting rig, that help leave fighter, and crucially, punter, with an unparalleled and unrivalled small-hall experience.
"We felt that we needed to jazz it up a little bit," Goodwin said of the investment made in the presentation of the revamped York Hall shows. "It was Josh’s idea. We looked at the American [PBC] way of doing things and realised that costs about £100k! It didn’t cost us that amount of money to do but it’s something that makes a total difference. Our boxers now look like professional fighters when they walk out, it doesn’t look like an amateur or unlicensed fight card anymore."
Such has been the success of these rejuvenated London shows, and the growing reputation of the Goodwins as a ’fighters first’ company, that not only are they now seeking to expand their operations outside of London and the South East, but former WBA heavyweight, and unified cruiserweight champion, David Haye, has enlisted their matchmaking services to help provide the undercard for his Jan. 16 ring return at London’s O2, when he fights for the first time in 3 1/2 years against Australian contender, Mark De Mori.
"We were delighted to be approached by David to assist with his comeback, and we have some great talent to showcase on the undercard," Goodwin said of the four men currently selected to appear. "We have Josh Kennedy (4-0, 4ko, 122lbs), Kaye Prospere (6-0, 4ko, 140lbs), Jose Lopes (5-0, 2ko, 200lbs) and Wadi Camacho (13-5, 8ko, 200lbs) at the moment, and opponents for each are being worked on as we speak. We are very pleased to be able to deliver them this fantastic opportunity.
"For me, Kennedy, Prospere and Lopes are among the most hard-hitting, charismatic young prospects out there. [Lopes trainer] Don Charles always said he’s the next David Haye, so it’s quite appropriate that he is appearing on the card! I honestly believe that Prospere is British title material too in the next 12-18 months, and as for Kennedy, he is one of the most exciting super bantamweights in the country."
There has still been no announcement from Hayemaker promotions with regards to the platform on which the fight will be broadcast, and Goodwin would not speculate or be drawn on the subject, insisting Goodwin Boxing is entirely separate from that part of the promotion. Their focus is solely on the job providing quality talent for the undercard, which will also include Australian super featherweight, Billy Dib and Liverpudlian veteran, Tony Dodson, in respective contests.
Yet, with British boxing sporting an amazing 12 current world champions and making something of a mainstream comeback, does there exist a way forward for the fight game to be even more accessible to the casual fan, who remains boxing’s most valuable customer? Goodwin believes so, and is working on an expansion plan that aims to see them become a franchise for other [small-hall] promoters around the country to use, with a view to one day potentially challenging the likes of the Matchroom Boxing/Sky TV monopoly, which has recently been extended another five years, and sees Eddie Hearn’s stable as the sole provider of the broadcasting giant’s ’Fight Night’ shows.
"The major plan is for Goodwin boxing to become a brand that other promoters around the country can use, a franchise," Goodwin said. "We’ve just recently signed three promoters up to the Goodwin brand, and although I can’t reveal the exact details of that at the moment, I can say it’s an exciting development for us.
"A monopoly in anything does not work in the long term. In any business - and I’ve been involved in quite a few in my time in the financial world - a monopoly does not work. In boxing currently we’ve seen a lot of boxers drawn to one place, and while that makes it easier to make the fights, there are disadvantages, one of which being it can drive down purses for the boxers."
"Our approach is totally [financially] sustainable, everything is done on a sound financial footing." Goodwin assures me. "We have no problem with any of our boxers fighting on other [promoters] shows provided it is contractually and financially advantageous to them. Matchroom have always been decent enough people to deal with and are modern in their approach compared to some promoters. However our priority remains what is best for our boxers, and we will work with absolutely anybody in order to achieve that."
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December 22, 2015