Emergence of Summer Fisticuffs
By Dave Spencer
With four committed dates for the summer, fight manager Doug Berneche’s Emergence series debuts Friday May 4th and could very well benefit fighters from across the country. “We’re going to try and match up some of the boxers from Ontario and Alberta for some of the newer guys like (Francois) Miville or (Frank) Cotroni, the beginners. Guys from Europe are fine but a lot of fans have a hard time associating with them. So if we bring boxers who are a little closer, it might be better.”
While boxers will still be imported from Europe and South America, Berneche is well aware of the quality control problems that fans are sometimes subjected to. “With Arash we might have an opponent from Hungary, but with what happened at Ali Nestor’s show, we’re a little bit scared to bring somebody from there.” What Berneche is referring to is featherweight Kevin Lavallee’s recent opponent who hit the canvas as soon as they turned the ventilation system on, somebody trainer Russ Anber called one of the worst opponents he has ever seen. “We have another option in Argentina, right it would be one or another.”
Being a promoter is something Berneche never set out to do, but good-will and relying on others simply wasn’t getting his fighter Usmanee the work he felt was needed. “I didn’t want to,” said Berneche of suddenly becoming a promoter. “Last year we were supposed to fight in Vancouver, July 16 if I remember, and the show was cancelled ten days before. Arash is ready, he is ready to go and we want him to have a fight before his Ramadan, so I said okay, I’m going to promote a fight just for you. From there, every manager wants to find a spot for his boxer. Russ (Anber), Gary Freeman, Hennessy Sports, Eric Belanger, everybody wants a spot for their guy. They buy the tickets, sell the tickets, and this pays for the purse for their boxer. The way we do it, it gives everybody a chance to box. The first show we did in 19 days, 19 days and everything was perfect, and it was full.”
The promoter admits the formula isn’t for everybody, “If you have 14 or 16 boxers and each boxer brings ten to twenty people, then the venue is full. You’ve got fans who come for the boxing event then all the fans of the individual boxers. I don’t think everybody is going to support this kind of mentality, paying for your boxer’s spot, but everybody wants to box.
“It’s easy and it lets people box, and I love boxing and fortunately I’m not alone, I got 400 people who are just like me….and it’s cheap, 25 bucks to come, it’s at least 70 at the Bell Centre, I know it doesn’t have the same prestige, but it’s still boxing.”
Due to appear on the May 4th show are Arash Usmanee, Steve Harvey, Natasha Spence, Kevin Lavallee, Lucia Larcinese, Francoise Miville, Frank Cotroni, Eric Barack and Nathalie Forget. Berneche is awaiting signed contracts to come back and will announce opponents shortly.