Boxing: kathy duva

Talk to old-timers, and they'll lament on how it used to be. Boxing was on every Friday night, and the whole family used to crowd around the tube and watch bouts, they say.

There hasn't been as much crowding around the tube in the last decade, with boxing being largely absent from network TV, but that trend seems to be reversing. On Dec. 22, NBC ran the Steve Cunningham-Tomasz Adamek heavyweight scrap, put on by promoter Main Events, and fight fans -- and I count myself among them -- rooted for the numbers to come in strong. The numbers are in, and they look good. A source tells us the NBC Fight Night showing did a 1.2 rating, and a 3 share, with 1.6 million folks tuning in to watch, on average, during the event. Perhaps the standout stat from the presentation? At peak viewing time, over 4 million persons tuned in to the bout. I do believe that could be the most viewers for a boxing match this year...

Kathy Duva, who heads up Main Events, told NYFightblog she was "very pleased" with the ratings. This comes on the heels of a Golden Boy bout which ran on CBS that produced similar numbers.

The NBC scrap had a controversial ending, with the Polish heavyweight Adamek leaving the ring at the Sands in Bethlehem, Pa. a split decision winner over the Philadelphian Cunningham, who seemed to get the nod from a majority of viewers who weren't official scorers. The people I watched with, most of whom hadn't seen a fight on a network since the Ali era, were attentive, and seemed to accept that iffy decisions were part of the sport.

Chambers aiming (again) at Klitschko

June, 14, 2012
So ... it didn't go swimmingly the first time around. Would Eddie Chambers even want another go at a Klitschko, even if it meant another tasty payday?

"I would absolutely want another crack at [Wladimir] Klitschko," Chambers said. "He's the best out there, and I want to be the best out there, so the only way to be that is to beat him. Since that fight, I have been studying the sport. I watched the video to understand what he does, how effective he is."

Chambers had some time in the sun a couple years ago when he beat Sam Peter and then Alex Dimitrenko, and had some folks calling him a future Klitschko killer. Since then, fortune has smiled on other prospects, such as Seth Mitchell. We wondered, does this irk Chambers?

"Not really," he said. "I'm just glad to see that people are paying attention. He gets all that credit, but then it changes when he steps into the ring with someone like myself and that person beats him, and then all of a sudden it shifts. Now that person becomes 'the guy.' So if I get the shot at Seth Mitchell and defeat him, then all that hoopla and all that good stuff shifts over to me."

Part of me would like to see Chambers get a little PO'd, take some of this stuff personally. Main Events is in love with Bryant Jennings right now; Chambers should be wondering why he isn't the object of the promoter's affection.

"There's something about him [Jennings] that reminded me of Evander Holyfield when he was young," Main Events boss Kathy Duva said. "I mentioned that at the fighter meeting, and people jumped down my throat at that point. [Trainer] Freddie Roach said, 'You can't compare him to Evander Holyfield.' Well, when the fight ended, I went up to Freddie and said, 'Can I compare him to Evander now?' and he said 'Yeah.' And now he's [Roach] turned out saying he's [Jennings] the best young heavyweight out there."

Eddie, you listening? If you take out Adamek, if I'm you, I'm calling out Jennings -- if he beats Steve Collins on the June 16 undercard -- and demanding a faceoff, with winner to get Seth Mitchell. And if you beat Adamek, Jennings and then Mitchell, I do declare, there would be nothing iffy about another Klitschko crack. It would be earned, well earned.

Whitaker out, Harvey in as Judah trainer

March, 22, 2012
Kathy Duva is a patient soul, as non-combustible a boxing promoter as you'll find. She needs patience when overseeing one Zab Judah, who will fight Vernon Paris (26-0) in the main event on a Duva show at the Aviator Complex in South Brooklyn, N.Y., on Saturday night. That bout, an IBF 140-pound title shot eliminator, and the undercard bouts will air on NBC's cable sports channel, with the featured bouts to kick off safely after the March Madness contests have finished up.

Duva betrayed not a hint of dismay when she informed me on Thursday at noon that she had no idea til late in the game that legend Pernell Whitaker would not be training Judah (41-7) for this bout, or be working his corner in Brooklyn. Slight surprise was present in her voice, yes. But Duva has to be of a certain mindset when dealing with Judah, who although 34 and who has seen the light, in the form of a born-again-type conversion to Christianity a couple years ago, can still be mercurial. The boxer still has the ability to swerve at a moment's notice, as he did in his most recent outing, when he crumpled to the mat off a shot to the belt line by then WBA champ Amir Khan and was counted out for a fifth-round TKO loss, costing him his IBF strap. Afterward, he cried foul, protesting the launch landed on his groin, and he hasn't strayed from that belief since the July event.

Duva can't let herself get overheated or frustrated at the boxer's idiosyncrasies, and she didn't as she cooly told me that she learned that Whitaker, who was with Judah for his past two fights, was out, only right after a March 6 conference call. On that call, Judah indicated that he and Whitaker were still an item -- not a given, because some theorized after the Khan loss that the defensive whiz Whitaker wasn't the right fit for Judah, who is best when he takes it to his foe and lets his offense be his best defense.

"Pernell Whitaker is family, he will always be with us," Judah said on the call. In retrospect, that assertion is more vague than it seems on surface. A family member, one can argue, is always with you -- in your heart, in your head, even if he isn't physically next to you.

I asked Duva the circumstances of the Whitaker split, and she said she had no clue. "You'd have to ask Zab," she said. That wasn't possible, as I was with Annabelle and Juliette this morning, when the last press conference to hype the Aviator card took place in New York.

For the record, Duva said, Judah's dad, Yoel, won't return as chief second. His uncle, James Harvey, will lead Judah's corner in Brooklyn.

FYI: Tickets are still available, and Duva wants hoops fans to know that widescreens will be on at the Aviator, so you can get your basketball fix on during the fights if you so choose.