By Matt Bevan (@MBevs68)
As a regular at lots of different cards all over the country, last Saturday I went along to James Lindemann’s first venture as a new boxing promoter at Event City next to The Trafford Centre in Manchester.
I had received a message on twitter, probably generic, off his L-Sel account and replied would there be any press seats available, as I was interested in covering the event.
Five minutes later a phone call from the promoter and a long chat left me intrigued as to what sort of event he would be putting on. The first thing that caught my attention was the passion from Lindemann and how much belief he had that he was doing something completely different that could change the culture of British boxing.
At first glance the card wasn’t great, with five fights including a debutant and two local lads, whilst the headline names on the cards, Callum Johnson and Marcus Morrison were taking on overmatched journeymen over four or six rounds, something they really shouldn’t be doing at 14-0 and 11-0 respectively.
However, for a first time promoter you could ignore that and full of intrigue I went along, not really knowing what to expect at all. My first thoughts travelling to a small hall show are usually who on the left hand side of the running order could possibly lose or where the hell am I going to park.
This time though it was is Lindemann going to pull this concept off? Has he perhaps bitten off more than he can chew or will the boxing be totally forgotten about?
On arrival it was a very different sort of atmosphere, almost a corporate feel, as the sponsors were milling around and you were greeted by VIP girls asking you to purchase a raffle ticket that included a holiday to New York. You don’t get that at York Hall very often!
If you were lucky enough you were thrown on a red carpet and photographed by a local snapper. Some local celebs, I’ll be honest I have no idea who they are, recently found themselves on the Daily Mail website which ain’t bad exposure for any promoter, big or small.
Entering the hall, the tv screens immediately captured your attention, with sponsors adverts flashing across them. Better advertising than the usual toblerone’s that usually adorn the outside of the ring and spend more time on the inspector’s table than in spectator’s eye view. A lot of the money definitely went to these.
After a tribute to Muhammad Ali by a local dance troupe, we got on with what we were actually there for. To be fair most of the fights were actually pretty good, but ultimately you can dress it up all you want and put as much money as you can into the event, but at the end of the day when you strip it back it’s still a local ticket seller against a journeyman.
Ignoring the sound of the nightclub on the other side of the seating, a distraction for those who were only here for one fighter, I enjoyed the fights, in particular Adam Hague, who looks to be a good prospect from Glossop, who outpointed the durable James Gorman over six rounds.
Debutant Ryan Oliver was in a real war with Liam Wright, which he just edged and had the crowd on their feet, whilst Rob Hough stopped Bryn Wain, who gave as good as he had, but in the end couldn’t cope with a Hough onslaught.
There had been plenty of thought put in around the boxing, which I was glad about it after my previous worry that it might be forgotten about. There was a big team making sure it ran properly and all the fighters got entrances that many don’t even get on the arena shows.
There was smoke, which was a downside as the first round was then a bit of a nightmare to watch properly, and pyro above the ring after Marcus Morrison had smashed his way past the unfortunate Konstantin Alexandrov in the first round, which certainly caught most by surprise.
Cameras were following the action, including a couple of rovers carrying expensive pieces of kit, covering every angle imaginable. It was well thought through and definitely showed a different sort of promoter to some of the others in the UK.
A boxing night in Manchester wouldn’t be complete without Ricky Hatton, who was duly around at ringside, whilst there was also a q&a session with Anthony Crolla, the current WBA lightweight world title. Members of the Smith family and Dave Coldwell were among the other boxing names that could be seen around ringside.
It was a good night all in all and Lindemann put on a good event which had something for everyone. My questions were answered any my doubts were put to rest. As long as the quality of the fights improve, there is no reason to suggest that this will just be a flash in the pan.
Lindemann is personable enough that he can always get people on board and sponsors to support the shows, the biggest battle of all for any promoter without a TV deal. His October card will be a chance to see how far it could potentially go.
I’m definitely going along and enjoying the ride.