by Hans Olson
This Friday, September 9 from the Chapiteau CCSE Maisonneuve in Montreal, young prospect Kevin Lavallee (5-0-1) looks to improve on his undefeated record when he takes on Hungary’s Richard Szebeledi (11-17-0); Lavellee’s bout headlining what’s sure to be an action-packed night of boxing. Lavallee comes into the fight hot off of a 3rd round TKO he scored against Tibor Meszaros last month in the same building of this Friday’s show. Trained and managed by one of the best in the business Russ Anber, Lavallee is yet another talented (some say can’t-miss) prospect in the region.
In addition to Lavallee, the show features Canada’s Ibrahim Kamal from Toronto and Edmonton’s Rory Coveney, two undefeated fighters looking to make an impression in the Province of Quebec. Cruiserweight Lionell Thompson and Jr Middleweight Francesco Cotroni will also see action. The entire card will be available to viewers on Go Fight Live (www.gfl.tv).
I spoke with one of the show’s organizers, Douggy Berneche late last week.
“We’re just a few managers who want our fighters to fight,” said Douggy, an attitude he shares with fellow managers/trainers Russ Anber, Gary Freedman, and Terry Coveney who are collaborating with Berneche on this new fight series.
“The show last month was a success,” said Berneche. “The tickets sold very fast and the crowd was very happy. After the show—one week after the show— we said ‘okay, we can do another one’. We’re putting Kevin Lavellee in the main event so it can create some publicity for him. The people are going to know him, and we never know what can happen. When more people see you, you never know when somebody wants to fight you, you know?”
It’s an approach more managers in the United States should take a look at:
Keep your fighters fighting.
“We do this with Groupe Yvon Michel. They help us with all the technicalities. Next summer we’d like to continue these shows. We’d like to do shows in May, June, July, August, and September. We want to do around 4 to 6 shows next year.”
One of the elements that made the first show such a success was the involvement of Go Fight Live, the innovative site that streams a variety of combat sporting events at an affordable cost; shows that are not picked up by television networks and would not be available to fans otherwise. Arash Usmanee, a Berneche-managed fighter who thrilled as the co-headliner of last months show alongside Lavallee, was a key part of securing their last ‘Go Fight Live’ production. “It came from Arash,” said Douggy. “I get many phone calls about Arash because he’s ranked number 10 by the WBA. After seeing what we did last time, they’re going to produce another show this time.”
Another key part of what Douggy and co. did last time was make the card diverse, something that fans from all around the world could find interest in. “I’ll just give you an example,” continued Douggy. “The last time, we brought some fighters over from Hungary so many people from Hungary watched the fight. With this card, we’re doing the same. We have some guys from the United States, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania—we have another boxer from Alberta…so it’s a collection of fighters from all around the world.”
One local fighter looking to make a name for himself on the card is Michael Gadbois (3-0), who hails from nearby Saint-Hyacinthe. Nicknamed “L’Unique,” the 135 lb. southpaw is paying his dues the old fashioned way: fighting. “Michael was never on the Canadian team,” said Berneche. “No promoter wanted to give him a chance, so I said to him: I’m going to make you fight. You’re not going to get a big purse, but if you sell tickets you’ll get a percentage of the tickets sold. He fights for almost the minimum, but he knows if he doesn’t fight, nobody is going to see him. He’s a good kid, so we hope we can help him in the beginning of his career.”
It can be these early days of a fighter that make or break him. It works that way with managers and promoters as well. If these guys all keep winning, they all keep fighting. If they don’t win, it can be tough for promoters and managers to rebound immediately.
“In Quebec, if you win the best will come. If you lose, nobody wants to talk to you,” said Douggy. “In Montreal it’s really like that. If the Montreal Canadians are losing, the Belle Centre is empty. If they win, it’s impossible to get tickets.”
Fortunately for the managers involved in Friday’s card—their fighters are winning. Additionally, the fighters are quickly gaining the attention of fight fans in Quebec, fans lucky to have such talented fighters and forward thinking boxing people who are willing to wage risk for reward.
Catch all of the action Friday night.
Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @hansolson