May 9, 2013

George Foreman hopes family promotion business carries a punch

The former heavyweight champion is backing a featherweight title bout in June at American Airlines Center.

The American Airlines Center is hosting a premier boxing event that brings two-time heavyweight champion George Foreman to the Metroplex.

Boxing is well out of the picture for the 64-year-old Foreman, but promoting is his new game and his family business is backing the Mikey Garcia vs. Juan Manuel Lopez featherweight championship fight June 15, hosted by the AAC and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Foreman said when he was boxing he would have never dreamed he’d be in the promotion business, but he doesn’t miss fighting much because of the constant state of pain he experienced while competing.

After Thursday’s news conference on the floor of the AAC, Foreman, a Marshall native, answered questions on his new business, the state of boxing and the Dallas sports scene.

Why are you in the promotion business now? It’s a family business. The toast of the town is to have your boys in the same business you’ve been in. So happens I was in the boxing business and they didn’t want to get punched, so why not promote? That’s what the Foreman Boys Promotions is all about. They’re the ones doing the work, I don’t want you to think I’m sharing the glory.

How much has boxing changed today from when you were fighting? I think for the best. Twelve rounds now and no longer fifteen rounds. Fifteen rounds were killers. I think now you have the opportunity for fighters, especially in the lighter weights, to make money. That didn’t happen in the past. Only the heavyweights got money, now they’re aren’t any heavyweights. We’re looking for heavyweights. At the same time, the lightweights and featherweights are enjoying themselves.

Is there anything boxing can do to become more mainstream like when you were fighting? We’re going to have to work. We used to take it for granted — they’d be here. Everyone is going to follow us and we’d put on bad promotion. Today, we’ve decided that every fight is going to be a competitive fight and fans buy that. The next thing you know it’s a household word. Like the old Gillette days — boxing is back.

Do the fighters understand that you have to compete now, differently than maybe five or six years ago? You’ve got to instruct fighters now, no matter how good you think you are and what your promise is, you’ve got to compete. People aren’t going to buy junk anymore. You’ve got to give them the best. That’s why the Top Rank guys have put together the matchmaking that is needed to prolong and really stimulate this business again.

When you think of Dallas you think of football, basketball and baseball. Why boxing? Can it be boxing? We would like to be in the playoffs for Dallas. They’re not here. What do you do? Bring in some boxing. That’s why we’re trying to get the boxing back together, in case the playoffs don’t make it, we’re going to have nights of excitement where families can bring their children out, meet guys like me — I’ll be here signing autographs and talking to everybody — but at the same time, enjoying competitive boxing matches.

Would you call the [Floyd] Mayweather-Robert Guerrero fight a good fight or was that not a good fight? I watched the Mayweather fight. I don’t want to say anything bad about boxing. Mayweather was back and looked like he hurt his hand pretty early and yet he kept trying to fight and the last couple of rounds he tried to hold on. I’d like to see better fights, and I look forward to better fights. That’s what happened to [Manny] Pacquiao; I didn’t want Mayweather to get knocked out as well. I caught myself [saying], “Don’t get knocked out. Keep your hands up.”

What is the state of that search for the next big heavyweights? I got my boys and that’s what they’re doing full time — looking for heavyweights. They’re trying to get out and find talented fighters, develop them, get them competitive fights and become heavyweight champions of the world from the United States of America.

What kind of timetable do you see with that? We’re thinking in the next four years. It’s going to take some time. You don’t want to rush anything. People don’t like rushing. I sell grills and they enjoy them because it’s quality and it took a lot of time to make them. That’s the way it is with champions. You have to take your time and don’t rush and develop quality fighters.

Are you much of a Dallas sports fan? I cried when the Dallas Mavericks became world champions. It would just touch my heart. I wanted to see it for years. I’m still on a high, so I don’t feel that bad, but I would have sure liked them to be in the playoffs.

Who do you think Mark [Cuban] should pick up this off-season to help them get back there? You’ve got to get somebody out of the draft that hasn’t been stigmatized by some other team, who can have Maverick pride. He’s got to look for a youngster that’s only played for him and has Maverick pride, and I’m looking with him.

Any predictions on how the Cowboys are going to do this year?

Go Cowboys, that’s all I can say. [With a very big laugh].

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