Boxing’s Next Hype House Heats Up in San Diego



Boxing’s Next Hype House Heats Up in San Diego

Throughout boxing history, when fighters needed to focus, they left home to train at one of many storied fight camps. Fighters like Braddock, Marciano, Liston, Ali, Holmes, and Tyson went to the Catskills Mountains to get away from distractions at home. They found fresh air and plenty of quiet space away from reporters' prying questions.

In recent years, fight camps have set up shop west of the Rockies, often in warmer climates where it’s not a chore to do roadwork early in the morning.

Social media is a part of today's fight game for athletes like David Benavidez. Photo: Lina Baker/UTHW Boxing

Social media influencers borrowed this concept. First, it was Jake Paul’s Team 10, a collective of social media influencers based at Paul’s Calabasas, California mansion, who put their collective talents together to create a new kind of entertainment network. The Hype House followed, started when a half-dozen teenage Tik Tok stars bought a Spanish-style mansion in Los Angeles to make videos, inviting other influencers to join them.

Luxury digs mean fight camp doesn't suck

The pool room is a favorite. Photo: Gayle Falkenthal

The two concepts have merged in 2022. Call it boxing’s Hype House. Under the Bluemoon Entertainment banner, boxing media company FightStars.TV opened its own fight camp in Rancho Santa Fe, California, just north of San Diego. The six million dollar home purchased last summer comes with six bedrooms, ten bathrooms, a saltwater swimming pool, outdoor kitchen, and basketball court – and now a boxing gym on site. Trainers and teams can lease the compound for a fight camp experience unlike any other. Take a tour here.

After getting a rare look inside the property earlier this week for, it’s hard not to sound like a realtor hyping a listing when writing about the FightStars camp.

The property is fully equipped and wired with wifi, cameras, and the setting to facilitate social and entertainment content for boxing fans. It’s no longer a luxury but a critical tool in building audiences and promoting the sport. The beautiful surroundings and warm Mediterranean climate set the scene. The location adds a necessary bit of privacy for the athletes.

Charles: ‘Not the normal boxing thing'

Rachel Charles of FightStars.TV (right) with Gayle Falkenthal and Nancy Rodriguez of the WBC. Photo: Lina Baker

Longtime sports publicist Rachel Charles, Vice President of Operations for Fightstars TV, said owner and CEO Patrick Oakes “has a great vision for what the company can do. We don’t want to do the normal boxing thing. We want to go against the grain of boxing.”

Charles said Oakes wanted to establish an out-of-the-way compound as a destination for top fighters. “He understands a trainer needs to go off and train and not have any distractions. It’s the old Catskills mentality,” said Charles. “He found this place. You would not know it’s here.”

The tradeoff is access by Fightstars.TV to the team in residence to come in and produce content. “We are absolutely content-driven,” confirmed Charles.

Team Benavidez takes up residence

Team Benavidez is the inaugural resident crew at the FightStars 'Hype House.' Photo: Lina Baker

Team Benavidez is the inaugural resident crew at the FightStars ‘Hype House.' Photo: Lina Baker/UTHW Boxing

The first team to settle in at the property is Team Benavidez, with father and trainer Jose, former super middleweight champion David Benavidez, super middleweight prospect Diego Pacheco, Mexican lightweight Jose “El Reyo” Valenzuela, their trainers, support team, and sparring partners. There’s enough room for all to have a private room and enjoy their downtime while preparing for upcoming bouts.

“We’re so thrilled to have the Benavidez. We’re very excited to host these guys for the first time. There’s three acres, plenty of room for everyone,” said Charles. “We’ve worked around the clock. We had 12 people cleaning this joint. We had a week. We were still painting and sanding. I was helping with the cleaning crew,” she laughed. “We wanted it to be just perfect for David. They’re very happy, they love it. They treat it as if it’s their own.”

David Benavidez gets down to work with father and trainer Jose Benavidez. Photo: Lina Baker/UTHW Boxing

So far, the reviews are five stars. “That’s why I don’t mind staying in camp for so long. It’s a freaking mansion, shit why would I complain?” laughed Benavidez. “It’s my first time being in San Diego. San Diego’s so beautiful. People here are so nice. Ever since I got here, it makes me feel really happy. I’m excited, I’m motivated. This is the best thing for my career. (Training) is hard enough, but when you’re in a beautiful place like this, it’s ten times easier. It’s going to be a great year for all of us.”

Big ambitions in Rancho Santa Fe

Diego Pacheco hits the bag in preparation for his March 5 bout. Photo: Lina Baker Hype House

Diego Pacheco hits the bag in preparation for his March 5 bout. Photo: Lina Baker/UTHW Boxing

Diego Pacheco is the first among the team with a bout on the calendar, appearing on the Roman Gonzalez vs. Julio Cesar Martinez undercard in San Diego on March 5. He admitted camp didn’t suck. “I’ve been loving it here. It’s really nice. I’m from LA, I’m really close to my family. I hate going away for a long time. But I’ve really enjoyed it here. Everyone in San Diego is so nice … It’s been one of my best camps being in this house.”

Benavidez expects to fight former middleweight champion David Lemieux of Canada, but no date or location has been set. Lemieux is undefeated in three bouts at super middleweight. “It’s another fight to showcase my skills,” said Benavidez. “It’s not going to be an easy fight. I’ve been watching his fights for a long, long time. These are the fights I want. He can land a big hook, so I’ve got to be ready for it.”

Jose ‘Reyo' Valezuela races Diego Pacheco across the pool after training. Sorry Diego, Reyo beat you by a fraction. Photo: Lina Baker/UTHW Boxing

Charles says the FightStars team has grand ambitions for the luxury location, including a planned dedication event giving the camp a formal name. “The bottom line, we want the Anthony Joshuas, the Tyson Furys to come to this place. We want those guys to see the house, hear David and Jose’s take on it, their experience here.”

A few early wins by Team Benavidez will be worth a thousand reviews.

Gayle Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist and the only woman journalist who is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). She is West Coast Bureau Chief based in San Diego, California.