Exclusive Interview: Joe DeGuardia

By G. Leon


Exclusive Interview: Joe DeGuardia

GL: Can you give us some thoughts on Antonio Tarver's big win over Roy Jones Jr? "Antonio did what he had to do. Roy was fighting in a real defensive mode, he was fighting very tricky and trying to keep Antonio off balance. I don't think Antonio feel for it. He fought a smart fight and won it convincingly on the scorecards."

GL: Star Boxing is also promoting Nate Campbell. What are your thoughts on his showing against Kid Diamond?

Joe DeGuardia: "What a surprise. Kid Diamond came in being so highly regarded as the next superstar in the game and Nate just took him to school."

GL: Who would you like to see Antonio face next?

Joe DeGuardia: "Obviously we're looking at all the options right now. We want to see him in the biggest fights that are available. We believe that Antonio has established himself as a PPV player. When you think about 405,000 buys and recognize that Roy did not really contribute to the promotion as far as appearing at press confernces or anything like that, and we still sold out the arena. There was over 20,000 people in the arena and for all intents and purposes everybody bought their tickets, we weren't papering the house. When you look at that and the PPV it's clear that Tarver is a draw. His three fights with Roy generated over one million buys between them and Roy hasn't had that kind of success with anybody else at light heavyweight."

GL: With Tarver winning in his hometown, do you plan on featuring him in Tampa a lot more often so that he could become another franchise in Florida so to speak?

Joe DeGuardia: "He's a world fighter. I wouldnt' say we're going to keep him locked down to Tampa. Certainly the fact that the fight was sold out and we did $2.5M in gate down there, that makes it a great viable option. I wouldn't want to lock him in to say he's going to be a home team so to speak. Tarver's got the ability to speak and he's got the marketability. He's a guy that we want to feature all over the world to increase his star power."

GL: Earlier you said it's all about getting Tarver the biggest fights out there. If he's going to stay at light heavyweight, a fourth fight with Roy Jones Jr is still the biggest money fight out there. I spoke with Roy late Friday night. He tells me he's definitely fighting again and he definitely plans on fighting Tarver again before he retires. How do you feel about the fourth fight? Does it make sense?

Joe DeGuardia: "You got to look back and say if you could see Ali-Frazier again, would you? The reality is these guys have some kind of compelling draw with each other. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a fourth fight because people wouldl be compelled to watch it. Roy is a great fighter and he's been a great champion for a long time and he had flashes of greatness on October 1. I think maybe with the year lay-off he didn't pull the trigger at certain times, but I could definitely see the fight happening again. It's not something we're pushing for right now though. I think Tarver dominated the fight on October 1 and he did what he to do, but the reality is, Roy is Roy. He's a superstar and a legend in his own right so when you couple that with their history, I could see a fourth fight happening. There are also some other big fights out there for Antonio where he wouldn't have to move to heavyweight and we're obviously going to pursue those as well. I believe that Antonio is in a position where not only is he the A side of a fight, but he's an A side that can bring in the dollars and the money. He has established himself as a real attraction."

GL: Would you prefer to see Antonio face Glen Johnson again rather than go after the sanctioning body titles?

Joe DeGuardia: "I don't think Antonio has to go after sanctioning bodies. I think they should be coming after him. Antonio is one of the few guys out there that has reached the point that he doesn't have to chase titles. He has the ability to call his own shots, so I think we're going to be looking for the biggest fights and the biggest names."

GL: You and Antonio haven't always seen eye-to-eye in the past. It now appears that Antonio, his manager Al Haymon and yourself are all on the same page. How much easier does that make it for you to move forward as his promoter?

Joe DeGuardia: "It makes it much easier to get things done and it makes it much easier for us to capitalize on the market. When we present a unified front it makes it so much better for everybody financially and every other way. On a personal note, it has made things much more pleasurable. We've got a good relationship now. We're moving forward and it's rewarding when the victory comes and the PPV numbers and ticket sales speaks for themselves. It's been very enjoyable for myself and I'm sure Antonio and Al Haymon that we've been able to do this as a team."

GL: If a fourth fight with Roy came to the forefront, would you put contractual stipulations that would obligate Roy to promote the event to avoid paying heavy fines? Because I imagine Team Tarver feels the fight would have done better PPV numbers had Jones taken part in the promotion.

Joe DeGuardia: "Unfortunately, contractual provisions don't ensure that things will get done. We felt that we had certain provisions for the last fight which weren't met. If there was going to be a fourth fight we would to sit down with Roy and explain to him how much better we could do if we were all on the same page promoting the event. Tarver we know will promote the fight and if Roy participates in the promotion there's no telling how much better we could do."

GL: How do you feel about Tarver and Jones fighting on the same card, or perhaps on HBO a week apart as an attempt to set the stage for a fourth fight?

Joe DeGuardia: "Roy's got to get out there and really start speaking. The real Roy came out at the post-fight press conference. He showed and he spoke to the people and showed everyone what a class act he truly is. Roy needs to show the people that he can market a fight and help market a promotion. I know he could do it because there's so many positives about him that people don't even know about. Unfortunately when he doesn't talk much, that doesn't help. He's a prideful person who Marches to his own beat, so he comes off as somewhere he doesn't care about anything but that's not a fair portrayal of him because deep down he's a very good person. But it's understandable how that perception is out there because he disregards things he shouldn't like this promotion. If Roy takes part in, and wants to take part in another promotion I think him and Tarver could do another bonaza together."

GL: Nate Campbell versus Jesus Chavez, Zahir Raheem, Joel Casamayor. Suddenly all of those fights seem very, very interesting. Where can we expect to see Nate go from here?

Joe DeGuardia: "All of those names are options and we've already been talking to people about a date for Campbell. He did a fantastic job and he took Kid Diamond to school."

GL: With Tarver being an HBO fighter and Star Boxing promoting his HBO dates, is there a strong possibility we could see Nate Campbell against any of those names I mentioned as the co-feature to Tarver's next fight?

Joe DeGuardia: "Sure. And it makes sense to put Nate Campbell in with a Latino because it brings a nice niche as far as audience to a PPV event."

GL: What else is popping with Star Boxing?

Joe DeGuardia: "Before we get to that, you know there's another guy out there that should be looking in this direction if he really wants to make a mark in the US and estabilish himself as a player in boxing, and that's Joe Calzaghe. We've actually looked at that fight before the Roy fight came to light, and Calzaghe should know that Antonio Tarver is ready and able to fight him. Calzaghe said he's going to be back in February and that's when our next date is, so we'll see what happens with that as well."

GL: So what else is popping with Star Boxing?

Joe DeGuardia: "We've got the F.I.S.T show that we're doing on October 26. The card will take place at the Hilton in Manhattan and it's going to feature a lot of local talent as well as Andrey Tsurkan in the main event, so it should be a good show. We've always got a couple of major dates that we'll be announcing as well as a multi-fight series for next year, but I'll keep you posted on all of that."


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