BARKER HANGAR ‚Äî The way Michael King sees it, boxing could very well be a growth industry.
Aside from the heavy hitters like Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacqui√°o, the boxing game has fallen on hard times.
While the top tier continues to enjoy record profits from pay-per-view audiences, the middle and lower tiers have languished.
When was the last time you saw boxing on ESPN or one of the other primary sports networks? That‚Äôs a question King has asked himself for some time now.
“The way things are going, it makes it difficult to develop fighters,” said King, who made his fortune distributing shows like Jeopardy and the Oprah Winfrey Show. “If you‚Äôre not on TV, you have to pay.”
And pay he has.
King decided to take the long route to Wednesday‚Äôs promotion at Santa Monica Airport‚Äôs Barker Hangar. He slowly recruited trainers and other support staff and attracted young fighters from around the globe.
To create even more buzz, King has hired funny man and actor Kevin Pollak to be the master of ceremonies.
Now the only thing left to hash out are the winners and the viability of this endeavor.
“We love the sport,” King said. “We have some really great young pros, some of the best in the world that we‚Äôve locked up for King Sports [Worldwide].”
One of those young pros is heavyweight Charles Martin and his impressive 15-0 record.
The effort to organize this first in what King hopes will be a string of boxing cards began years ago.
Martin first came to King Sports Worldwide in 2012, during the early days of the new venture‚Äôs development of young fighters.
At 27, Martin has been boxing since his late teens, but didn‚Äôt get serious about the sport until he signed with King.
Now, with the help of trainers, nutritionists and even a sports psychologist, Martin has begun to make a name for himself and could very well anchor this promotion.
“I didn‚Äôt believe it at first,” Martin said of the project. “But, I gave it a try and it was real.
“From there, I‚Äôve just been working toward this day.”
One of the men who helped mold Martin has been trainer and gym owner Henry Tilman.
Tilman joined King‚Äôs promotion five years ago with what was then called American Heavy Weights. Slowly, King recruited boxers to his effort and the nexus was born.
The Carson-based gym has been home to a number of the 10 boxers slated for Wednesday‚Äôs card.
In addition to Martin is his opponent, Alex Flores, who is also undefeated, sporting a 14-0 record. The pair are the only heavyweights scheduled to fight.
Tilman expects a good fight, but said that Martin is “ready to blow up any day now.”
“This is the first [promotion] and we‚Äôve been waiting on it,” Tilman said. “It has finally arrived and we‚Äôre all excited.”
Doors open at Barker Hangar at 5:30 p.m. with the first bout beginning at 7 p.m.
“This promotion in Santa Monica is our coming out party,” King said. “We see good things in our future.”