By Jake Donovan
There couldn’t have been more pressure placed on Albert Bell to look good in his pro debut. Yet even with former heavyweight king Mike Tyson looking on at ringside, the 20-year old newcomer passed with flying colors, dominating fellow debutant Harold Torres before stopping in the 4th round of a preliminary bout Friday evening at the Kissimmee Civic Center in Kissimmee, Florida.
Tyson was at ringside to witness first-hand the progress of his very first client. The former baddest-man-on-the-planet has dipped his toes into several markets since stepping away from the ring for good in 2005, mainly acting – movies, TV and theatre.
He’s now prepared to lend his hand – and mental library of boxing history – to the next generation of fighters with the official launching of ‘Iron Mike Promotions.’
The Kissimmee Civic Center is the house that Tuto Zabala and All-Star Boxing built, but Tyson’s present was immediately felt. The newly launched promotional company made an immediate splash, with heavy sightings of Iron Mike Promotion t-shirts spotted throughout the fan-friendly venue.
While Tyson is the obvious face of his self-named promotional outfit, he enters the promotional fray with partners in tow – and with that, plenty more talent to handle.
Acquinity Sports plays an active role in the company. Its CEO, Gary Jonas is a 50% partner with Tyson, while Henry Rivalta – Vice President for Acquinity Sports whose tireless efforts have made him the face of the company – receives an expanded role as President of Boxing Operations for the newly formed company.
“The sky’s the limit for this kid,” Rivalta said of Bell. “He looked spectacular (on Friday). He didn’t get touched once in the entire fight.”
Bell is honored to become the newly formed company’s first client; even more so considering it wasn’t as simple as submitting his resume and accepting the job.
“My first fighter is Albert Bell,” Tyson explained from ringside in Kissimmee after watching his client offer a flawless performance in his pro debut. “We went through an elimination process of fighters in my gym. He passed the test and is part of (Iron Mike) Promotions.”
The comment was made tongue-in-cheek, perhaps to emphasize the fighter’s natural toughness. The truth is that Bell is one of the 18 Acquinity-rostered fighters who will have Tyson in their corner.
It’s great news for rising stars such as Juan Carlos Payano, who enjoyed a breakout performance just a couple of weeks ago. An off-the-canvas knockout win of Jundy Maraon on ESPN2 positioned the unbeaten bantamweight into title contention, where he joins promotional stable mate and rising featherweight Claudio Marrero, whose next fight will be a title shot.
Behind the scenes, the trio of Jonas, Rivalta and Tyson makes for a rock solid team that could eventually have a major impact on the sport.
Jonas has shown his commitment to the sport, investing on what appears to be short-term risks with the vision of it growing into long-term success. Rivalta has worked non-stop in recruiting fresh, young talent to Acquinity and has already done the same for Tyson’s company in scooping up Bell, a highly successful amateur who came within a win of making the 2012 U.S. Olympic male boxing squad.
Then of course there is Tyson. The Hall-of-Fame ex-heavyweight champion brings worldwide popularity and the unique combined viewpoint of fighter and boxing historian, giving him the capability to personally mold and mentor Bell, though the Ohio native has already shown to be wise beyond his 20 years of age.
He may have passed his stiffest test the moment Tyson gave him the seal of approval. Now the rest is up to the rookie promoter to move its product and grow from the ground up. On the 16th anniversary of the infamous “Bite Fight” rematch with Evander Holyfield, Iron Mike Promotions received a hell of a jump start with Bell’s performance.
“(Iron Mike Promotions) “The Takeover” has started,” Tyson insists.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America.