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April 13, 2017

A CONVERSATION WITH CANADIAN PROMOTER LEE BAXTER
By Ivan Montiel

On Thursday, April 20th, Canadian promoter Lee Baxter will continue to revitalize the Toronto boxing scene when he presents a show at the Danforth Music Hall.  In the main event, super featherweight Alex Dilmaghani (13-1) takes on Miguel Angel Gonzalez (23-8-1). Baxter sat down with Boxingtalk's Ivan Montiel for an in-depth conversation about the Toronto show, as well as his promotional activities in Colombia.

Here is what he had to say:

IM: Good day Lee. I wanted to talk to you about the boxing event which you are promoting in Toronto on April 20th, 2017.

LB: Tickets are selling well. This is another boxing show which I have started at the Danforth Music Hall. The Next Generation which is all about upcoming prospects and fighters which have amateur pedigree.  These are fighters which eventually we will find out whether or not they are world class or not.

IM: I am hearing one of the fighters on this card has worked with the great trainer, Nacho Beristain.

LB: Yes Alex Dilmaghani worked with Nacho Bernstein for 3 years. He's in the main event.

IM: Well we both know Nacho Beristain is a great trainer and his gym, Romanza, is a great boxing gym.

LB: Yes Romanza Boxing Gym based out of Mexico City.  I also have Chordale Booker on the show who has had 140 US amateur fights. Booker was an Olympic alternate losing to Errol Spence Jr.  I also have Mladen Miljas who is now 3-0 with 3 KOs.  Miljas is one of the biggest physical specimens out of Canada that I have seen in a long time. He is 6Ē6 260 lbs with abs a big Croatian kid.

IM: Let me guess is Mladen the one known as the Monster Croatian?

LB: Yes Monster Mladen!  I also have Patrice Volny who is a stand-out from Montreal, a Haitian kid fighting at 160 pounds.  I also have Jessie Wilcox, an entertaining, big guy who hits hard. My promotional company is starting to come together. I believe the main thing is providing these fighters with platforms to fight on where they can actually be professionals.  I am not referring to part-time fighters instead this is what they do full time. They have to make a living therefore they get paid accordingly they need to have platforms where they can fight frequently enough to build a fan base.  

IM: I always believe great fighters are those who train full time.

LB: Well if one is called a professional then that means that is your profession to pay your rent and eat your food strictly from your profession.  If a fighter fights once every 4 months and only earning $1400. I donít know about you but I donít think one can live for that.

IM: No most definitely not.  Hard work pays off and well gym rats are the ones who make it.

LB: Yes for sure!

IM: I must say I am glad to see what you are doing with boxing in Toronto. We need more boxing events here.  

LB: Yes I am trying to do it back-to-back. Itís been 4 weeks [between shows].  I have another boxing event taking place in Medellin, Colombia on May 20th, 2017.  I also have more shows in Toronto.  Boxing in Toronto is a long way from where it needs to be but itís most definitely starting to snow blow.

IM:  Is Sammy Vargas fighting in Colombia?

LB: Yes. The problem in South America soccer has become so prominent that a lot of the children donít feel the need or even want to box or think that thereís the same platform given to them. Especially in Colombia thereís been quite a bit of talented champions and unfortunately there is not the number of boxing gyms there used to be.  There is not the boxing shows like there used to be either.  What we are trying to do is change that. Colombia needs a star to look up to, someone who has made a living for himself, someone who has been at the elite level and that Colombian star is Sammy Vargas.  Sammy Vargas has never fought in Colombia.  Vargas is very proud of where he is from therefore what we did is worked with a couple of local boxing gyms.  We are going to provide those boxing gyms with proper equipment.  We are working with the commission in Colombia and simply giving back boxing shows at no cost.  We are putting a couple of fighters from my stable there as well as local Colombian fighters and see if that helps.  We will leave all the boxing equipment there hopefully that will get more boxing gyms in Colombia excited to start training.

IM: That most definitely sounds like a plan. I believe this plan will work.  I agree with everything your saying.  In South America everybody loves soccer... Iíve tried to get my family in Ecuador into boxing but they are soccer fanatics.  

LB: I bet you there have been Ecuadorian world champions.

IM: Yes, Ecuador has produced world champions. Segundo Mercado of course who fought Bernard Hopkins twice is the most recognizable one of them all.  Colombia has also produced many world champions but yes trying to get South Americans back into boxing most definitely sounds like a master plan.  I love what youíre doing with boxing and sure hope boxing becomes what it once was in Toronto and that is a great sport for a great city.

LB: I believe boxing will return I donít see why it wonít unless we completely try to fail.  Boxing has shown that itís grown that itís going in the direction we need it to.  We are now proving boxing the tools to make it work right?  We have smaller shows we have bigger shows and now I have a fully sized boxing gym downtown Toronto. Hard Knocks Boxing Gym will start putting on armature shows, we offer kids programs if youíre in school for underprivileged  kids that do not have any money can train here.  It starts from the organic roots from a kid that has never touched a pair of boxing gloves till the highest level professional boxer we are going to have options for everyone.  If we keep doing this and keep putting on boxing shows itís inevitable!  Toronto is a sports enthusiast city right? Everyone will obviously take a liking in to boxing.

IM: Toronto does have hard-core boxing fans.  It also has lots of good fighters like Sammy Vargas.

LB: There is a bit of everything you need itís just that someone needs to put it all in place.

IM:  Lee, as always I appreciate you taking the time off your busy schedule I will see you on April 20th at The Danforth Music Hall. 


Here is the planned line-up of bouts:
Super Featherweights:
Alex Dilmaghani vs Miguel Angel Gonzalez

Super Featherweights:
Jessie Wilcox vs Fernando Silva

Heavyweight:
Mladen Miljas vs Abraham Pascual

Middleweight:
Patrice Volny vs Jose Luis Marin

Junior middleweight:
Chordale Booker vs Humberto Flores



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