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Old 07-13-2010, 11:23 PM #1
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Default TKO'd Boxing Promotions?


by Mark Ortega

Published on 07-11-2010 12:57 PM 0 Comments

July 2nd's broadcast of ESPN Friday Night Fights from Ontario, California was supposed to be the coming out party for a promotional company that had been around all of two years. The card was promoted by TKO Boxing Promotions, based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, and featured TKO fighter Demetrius Hopkins against Mike Arnaoutis in what figured to be a competitive fight that would elevate Hopkins back into the mix at the top of the 140 pound weight class. As far as the fight, everything went to plan.

It's what has happened since then [and in the leadup, as well] that has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many of the people involved, as well as swirling rumors that TKO Boxing's fifteen minutes of fame are up.

Mike Arnaoutis received roughly $15,000 for his headlining bout against Hopkins. Or at least he should have. Unfortunately for Arnaoutis and his team, the check bounced, as did many others linked to this promotion.

From four-round fighters making at tops $1,200 to the person responsible for matchmaking five of the bouts on a seven bout card, seemingly nobody was paid. And this is not a one time occurrence, neither.

Mike Michael, the manager of Arnaoutis, is more than what you could say, mildly perturbed. Michael plans on filing a grievance with the commission and a lawsuit against TKO Promotions. Michael feels that TKO knowingly wrote checks that they had insufficient funds for.

When contacted regarding the situation and TKO's current situation, director of boxing operations Chris Middendorf acknowledged that Arnaoutis' check did indeed bounce and that they were solving the problem today.

Michael says that he hasn't heard from Middendor
f since yesterday, and the last thing he was told was to contact president Chet Koerner regarding the bounced check.

Unfortunately, nobody seems to know where Chet Koerner is.

"I've known Chris for approximately ten years, since he was working with Gary Shaw and with Forum Boxing, and we basically took the fight on trust," said Michael. "I didn't know of TKO Promotions and I took the fight because I knew Chris and he guaranteed it."

This is not the first time this has happened. Nearly everyone I could get in contact with that has had any sort of connection with TKO Boxing has had problems with bounced checks.

Prominent manager Cameron Dunkin mentioned that it seemed to happen to his fighters every month and that they have been doing it for two years, or the entire time that TKO Boxing has had its doors open. Dunkin did note that they always made good, but in the last few months something had gone wrong and it seemed like they owed out to nearly everyone.

Where did TKO Boxing Promotions go wrong? In this writer's opinion, it was a case of overexpansion. TKO had a good thing going in hitting markets where nobody was an active promoter. They put fighters in their hometowns where they could draw reasonably well. But the caveat is that many, if not most of these fighters under the TKO banner were getting signing bonuses as well as monthly amounts to live off of. When you have nearly forty fighters under contract, this becomes a problem. It is also ludicrous that some of these fighters got signing bonuses in a time of the sport where only the big time promoters seem to hand them out.

When asked about the future of TKO, Middendorf had this to say. "Rumors of TKO Boxing's demise are highly exaggerated. It's natural to go through some growing pains, it's how we handle it that counts. We will know that over the next few months."

When asked if he felt that TKO may have expanded at too fast a rate, Middendorf said, "That is a logical conclusion. One of the things we did, we went into certain markets and did one show and did reasonably well. Then we went back a second and third time and saw the market decrease. We're not going to back to the places that saw things get progressively worse. We have more than ten cities across the country where we are actively being courted to go. You go there and there are a lot of promises made. Then you show up and do a televised show which costs 125 grand, and the gate brings in 75. So in that point it doesn't make sense. But in Southern California, New England, and Florida, those are our strongest places and we will continue to go there."

It'll be hard for TKO to come back to New England if they no longer have the services of Peter Manfredo, Jr., who only had a three-fight deal with TKO Promotions. Sources tell me that for his May IBO middleweight title win, even his check bounced.

Sources have managers of TKO fighters being told that they are effectively free to sign elsewhere, which doesn't bode well for any glimmering hope that they will be around much longer.

If Chet Koerner doesn't turn up anytime soon, it'll be safe to say that TKO Boxing is dead.
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