- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 5, 2003

Bobby Goldwater has seen boxing at its best. For nearly 20 years, he worked every major fight held at storied Madison Square Garden.
"Since 1974, I saw the history of boxing at the Garden," Goldwater said. "I was there when [Muhammad] Ali fought [Earnie] Shavers in 1977, one of the top 10 events I've ever seen at the Garden."
Now Goldwater, as executive director of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, hopes to revive boxing shows at the old D.C. Armory and bring a little piece of legendary Garden boxing to the area.
He has no illusions the Armory will become a center of boxing like the Garden once was, but he does believe the commission can help promote Washington as a prime location for national bouts.
Last night the commission took its first step toward that goal. At the Armory, Showtime televised a show that featured District native DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley defending his World Boxing Organization junior welterweight title against former champion Randall Bailey.
"Washington is a great fight town," Goldwater said. "There are great fight fans here and great fighters here. We want to establish Washington as a top spot for professional and amateur boxing."
It's open to debate as to whether Washington is a great fight town. There have been a number of world champions who have emerged from the area in recent years, but the last push for big-time boxing in the District failed when Don King who promoted last night's show at the Armory brought three nationally televised shows featuring local champions to the city in 1999. Two were at MCI Center and one at Washington Convention Center.
The shows did not draw well and lost money. There has been boxing in the District since, but it has been mostly on the club level.
The last time the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission became involved in supporting and promoting boxing was with the Riddick Bowe-Jesse Ferguson heavyweight title fight in 1993 at RFK Stadium. Unfortunately, that drew only about 10,000 and was a financial disaster.
The Corley-Bailey fight is much smaller in scale than a heavyweight championship bout, but Goldwater sees it as a small step toward establishing Washington's boxing credentials.
"I don't know if we can support a heavyweight championship fight, but there certainly are boxing events that can be supported by fans in Washington," he said. "That is where we think we can go."
The commission was not involved in the failed effort to bring the Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson fight here last year. The city's Boxing and Wrestling Commission was the agency behind that debacle.
"Lewis-Tyson just kind of happened without us," Goldwater said. "I did inquire about what the potential site and/or guarantee was going to be, and when I heard the numbers, it was my opinion that it would not be very realistic. I didn't see how the numbers could work."
The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission paid a site fee to King to bring the fight here, a figure Goldwater would not disclose. Nevertheless, he believes he can make it economically viable by making the Armory an attractive boxing venue. That hasn't been the case in the past as shows have failed to draw and appeared lost in the cavernous building. But Goldwater said all services at the Armory have been upgraded. The arena was curtained off last night to create a more intimate atmosphere.
"We think the Armory can be a great place for boxing," he said. "We have parking, and Metro is right there."
Goldwater also believes that some of the major District shows in the past were out of the price range of the average fight fan. The top ticket for last night's show was $100 ringside and the cheapest was $25.
"We did that on purpose to help us establish championship boxing back in Washington," he said. "That was a very key decision for us. We are taking this first step tonight and hope that it can create some momentum to continue."

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