This isn’t Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum and Top Rank highlighting a November 9th pro boxing event at Madison Square Garden. Arum and Top Rank will return in December and again a few times next year. The Garden, after all is known as the “Mecca” of boxing and promoters jump at the opportunity to highlight fighters in the main arena or adjacent Hulu Theater.
Tom Loeffler has been around a long time. His California based 360 Promotions has primarily been dormant in New York, with exception of some of his fighters that other promoters have highlighted at the Garden or Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but he has been involved with sold-out events at the Garden headlined by middleweight champion, Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin and heavyweight champions Vitali and Vladmir Klitschko.
Now, Loeffler is headed to New York with global broadcast partner UFC Fight Pass. The Garden has always had that illustrious boxing history and 360 Promotions is anxious about their debut.
They are also anxious to highlight “King” Callum Walsh at the Theatre, a ten-round main event and debut. Callum (8-0, 7 KO’s) is ranked No. 16 by the World Boxing Council. He’s a native of Cork, Ireland, and is coming off a fourth-round stoppage of veteran Juan Jose Velasco in Los Angeles. The 22-year old will make his second defense of his US Silver Super Welterweight title against Bronx native Ismael Villarreal (13-1, 9 KOs).
So at their initial press conference Tuesday in New York at Legends Restaurant, the expected boxing history of the Garden was on display. Former heavyweight contender Gerry Cooney, and Super middleweight “Irish” John Duddy, two that electrified Garden boxing cards, addressed what it takes to graduate and be a house fighter at the famous venue.
They know something about fighting in the Garden, whether it be in the main arena or adjacent theater, though the dream of every fighter is to main event in the big room where Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and so many other boxing legends cemented their names in boxing history.
But promoting big time boxing in New York is a task. It can be costly before they open the door with tax structures, fees to the Garden, and so many other of those complicated aspects that have chased promoters to do more in Las Vegas where the casino industry kicks in with sources that lead to revenue. Also, venues around the country and world wide have been more receptive, and promoters are flocking to other territories to highlight their main event fighters because they say it’s cost effective.
Leave all of those issues for another time, because Loeffler is ready for the debut of his promotion. He has a contender that draws a New York following and the Irish community. Expected is a sellout in the 5,500 seat theatre, and perhaps this leads more room to stage another event in the arena where champions have been a part of that illustrious boxing history.
“Fighting at Madison Square Garden is a huge step for every future superstar in boxing,” Loeffler said. “Callum draws sold-out celebrity-filled crowds in his events in Los Angeles and we’re expecting another tremendous evening for his New York debut at the Garden.”
Callum is a fighter that draws attention and a New York fight crowd has gravitated to a knockout artist and ring technician over the years which leads to more anticipation. Loeffler also mentioned his alliance with Dana White and the UFC that is televising this global event. White also has promotional interest with Callum.
“Dana White and his team at the UFC continue to be tremendous partners for the growth of Callum and we’re very excited to be part of their tremendous week at Madison Square Garden,” Loeffler said.
Renowned Hall Of Fame trainer Freddie Roach said about Callum “He’s so heavy-handed, he’s got the ability to knock guys out with one punch with either hand. But to be a headliner in just his ninth pro fight, and during this special week that is a ringing endorsement from the Garden executives. Villarreal is another big test for Callum. Callum wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The task for Callum is opposing Villarreal, the homegrown fighter from the Bronx who defeated John Martinez (19-3, 16 KO’s) via a TKO in the 2nd round, ending the Miami based fighter’s four year, eight-fight winning streak. Villarreal scored three knockdowns in round two, forcing the referee to end the fight with two seconds remaining in the round. He has defeated his last six opponents with a combined 93-19 record.
Surely there will be a hometown crowd in Villarreal’s corner. However, Villarreal is focused on another win and looking at a moment to propel him to a championship at 154 pounds. And there could be some explosive punches because Villarreal also has that knockout power.
“My dream is to be a world boxing champion and to achieve it I have to eliminate all the obstacles that come my way and Callum Walsh will be no exception,” said Villarreal. “I will be happy to do it in New York in front of my fans, in the city where I was born and have lived all my life. I know that this victory will open the doors for me to compete in a world championship no later than 2024. On November 9, the boxing world will know who Ismael “Maelo” Villarreal is.”
No doubt this is an opportunity for both fighters. Also, an opportunity for Loeffler and his promotion to make an impact in New York to continue that legacy of boxing at Madison Square Garden.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso