By Charles Jay
Pay-per-view events like the upcoming Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez fight are nice, but boxing needs its club shows to survive somehow, and that will never change. Working with the help of television money is quite a desirable place to be, but promoting at its most basic takes place at the so-called grassroots level. This is how you find out if you can really cultivate the paying customers, and to a certain extent, it’s how you find out who the real boxing fans are.
Having loyal patrons allows a promoter to take some liberties that might normally seem a little unusual. For instance, Terri “The Boss” Moss, a grassroots promoter who’s been putting on shows of one kind or another in the Atlanta area for eight years, is doing what some might perceive as unthinkable: she is going head-to-head with the GGG-Canelo PPV telecast. What’s more, she is targeting the same Mexican audience that Alvarez has made much of his fortune from.
This isn’t somebody with a death wish (figuratively speaking). Take our word for it; not every boxing fan will be glued to the screen for the latest “Fight of the Century,” although a competing show is not considered to be fertile territory around the industry. Indeed, Moss, in her role as coordinator, is producing only one of two shows in the country on Saturday night, other than the big one in Las Vegas. And there’s nothing here that scares her. “We’re actually using the GGG/Canelo fight to create our own momentum,” she says. “September 16 is Mexican Independence day. Our local demographic is 85 per cent Mexican. We’re featuring an extensive lineup with great local Mexican fighters that are hugely supported. I really feel this is the perfect time to do a show in our local market.”
One of the things that helps Moss pull her “Underground Showdown” series off is that she owns and operates her own venue. Open for business since 2013, Buckhead Fight Club is actually a 15,000-square foot facility that services those training in boxing, kick-boxing. Muay Thai and mixed martial arts. Then it gets converted into a 1000-seat arena on fight nights.
And guess what? Fans who buy VIP and Executive VIP seats can feast on a catered meal, along with beverages of their choosing – all included in the price.
Saturday’s show features super welterweights Jesus Tavera and Anthony Hill in the six-round main event, along with other local fighters, both pro and amateur, of Mexican extraction.
It’s probably not inaccurate to say that Moss is one of the more industrious women in the boxing business. And she isn’t flying solo anymore; now she’s got some heavyweight help, in the way of a former middleweight contender. Mark Holmes had a pro record of 38-1, losing only to John Collins. He is, of course, the brother of former heavyweight champ Larry Holmes, and he relied very much on the jab, just like big brother did.
He’s ready to throw some haymakers now, as he’s actually the official promoter for this show, and will be for more shows in the future.
“There’s a future in Atlanta boxing,” says Holmes. “With all the gyms, there’s a lot of fighters to keep busy, and that’s my plan.”
Considering the date, the card, and the target audience, one might think that staging GGG-Canelo on the big screen would be an ideal companion for this “Fight Night.” But such an undertaking would be counter-intuitive to the concept. This is not a setting for mega-events, via satellite or otherwise, but rather something dedicated to the relationship between the local fighters and the local crowd. This is a picture of intimacy and efficiency, not ostentation. Thus, big screens and big fights, which come – relatively speaking – with a big price tag, are not in the budget, and frankly, not needed.
“It’s a way for us to tap into the community family style, which is what I’ve found in my six years on Buford Highway to be the best way to connect to this community,” says Moss.
Very few people realize that even if the fight card is somewhat small in scope, that doesn’t mean there’s a lot less work put into it. In fact, in some cases there is even more, because a promoter is often operating behind the eight-ball, understaffed and under-appreciated. Unfortunately, Moss’ fight cards generally get the same attention from the local media that many club shows receive in major cities, which is to say they are largely ignored. Even some of the secondary media in a market like Atlanta won’t cover the fight without an advertising buy. So in order to continue moving forward, Moss has had to rely on alternative and social media channels, word of mouth, promotion from within her own gym, participation from sponsors, and interest from those who are there to support specific local fighters.
She’s watching every dollar, but getting by just fine. And the partnership with Holmes will help bring this ongoing program to another level.
“it’s been remarkable working with Mark Holmes, given what he brings to the table, Moss says. “I’m super excited to have a partner who’s such a heavy hitter in boxing. I look forward to growing our productions into a well known brand in the next few years.”
Moss can go the distance. She is a fighter by nature, and in fact has held the WIBF world strawweight title on her way to induction into the the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame. And she defied the odds, not even turning pro as a fighter until the age of 36.
You have to appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit at work here. And suffice it to say that anyone who can put on Corporate Fight Nights like she has, and possesses enough imagination to tag them as “a Black Tie, Black Eye Affair” is okay in our book.