Interview: matchmaker Chris Middendorf

By Don Wright


Interview: matchmaker Chris Middendorf

With the next show coming up on March 10, 2005, Boxingtalk recently sat down with Ballroom Boxing matchmaker Chris Middendorf who, along with promoter Scott Wagner, produces one of the most popular and exciting regional boxing shows on the East Coast.  In Boxingtalk's interview, Middendorf shares the duo's not-so-closely guarded secret to the Ballroom's success: no promotional contracts with the fighters, and bring the fans the best fights possible every time.

Boxingtalk: What lead you to take this unique approach to matchmaking, where the promoter has no promotional ties to the fighters themselves?

Chris Middendorf: "Except for a few fighters early on, Scott Wagner has chosen to not have promotional ties.  Therefore instead of making money off of the fighters, he is making his money from selling tickets, sponsorships and concessions.  To do this well, you depend upon your repeat customers, so you must keep them happy; ie. give them good fights, good food and drinks, good ring card girls and an experience that they enjoy."

BT: Can you share with our readers who else you hope to have participate in your upcoming show?

CM: "For the last couple of years, Ballroom Boxing was the only promoter in the state of Maryland and so our mandate was quality fights by local fighters interspersed with up and coming national talent.  Now that there are other local promoters who focus almost entirely on the local fighters, it has freed us up to be a little more aggressive in what we show.  So after the tremendous success last season of showcasing the comeback of Hasim Rahman, this season we will be showing as many of the next generation of stars that turned pro after the 2004 Olympics.  We are planning to have Andre and Anthony Dirrell on again; the young heavyweight Chazz Witherspoon; another young Michigan fighter, Lorenzo Reynolds (with Al Heymon) to name a few who have just turned pro.  Gary Shaw has a young, very heavy handed welterweight from Buffalo, Nick Casal (6-0), who should have been on the last card but was hurt.  There is a top young super middleweight who we had on at the end of 2004, Henry Buchanan (7-0) who we hope to bring back in March. And then there are two young Puerto Rican fighters who we have put on- Mario Santiago (10-0) and Roman Martinez (10-0), at 126 and 130 respectively. There is a lot of talent out there and I wish we were doing a show every week so we could put them all on."

BT: Who tops your wish list of fighters who have yet to appear at the Ballroom?

CM: "Of the young fighters, of course if his promoters would let him fight with us, it would be tremendous fun for our audience to also get a look at Andre Ward.  There are a couple of young Mexican fighters who I have seen in California (where I do many ShoBox shows for Gary Shaw).  I will bring some of them east and they will be huge hits at the Ballroom.  We have had some Mexican fighters here before and their style of fighting makes our crowds stand on their chairs and scream!  But I can't give you their names now!  Of established fighters, Shane Mosley would be tops on the wish list. We could put him on for three fights, as we did with Rahman, and help him back to a no. 1 spot.  If Shane came to the Ballroom, we would have fans lined up outside for days waiting for tickets to go on sale!"

BT: Of the recent prospects/contenders to appear at the Ballroom, which ones do you think have the best chance of winning world titles?

CM: "ALL OF THEM! I would not want to say.  It is such a treat for me and our audience to watch these young stars early in their careers.  I want them to know that the crowds here love them and that they have a second home town."

BT: Anything you would like to add?

CM: "These fights at the Ballroom are the easiest and the most fun to make. Other than the occasional budget restraint, Scott gives me the freedom to put on what I want to put on.  And the best part of it is when we introduce a new fighter, who climbs through the ropes and does something special.  Right there, the crowd gets turned on by that fighter who they know nothing about.  So when we bring him back on the next show, they remember and go wild.  That is the best.  Each show is a thread that weaves into part of a bigger story that goes on from month to month, boxing as entertainment."

Tickets for the March 10, 2005 Ballroom Boxing card are on sale now at all Ticketmaster locations or by calling 410-766-7474.