Quiz time. Who or what company promoted the most in New York in the last year? Ok, time's up, you guessed and just about none of you were right. Larry Goldberg, from Atlantic City, the founder of mid-tier Boxing Insider website, did five shows in 2023 in the confines of NY.
The next most active promoters are Top Rank, Matchroom and Star Boxing, having each promoted two programs.
Watch your language, I'm going to tell you who the heck is Larry Goldberg?
Larry Goldberg Was The Busiest Boxing Promoter in NYS in 2023
Larry Goldberg, age 46, is a character, I can safely say after chatting with him for almost two hours getting a sense of how and why a boxing media guy who had done internet marketing and sought, in his middle 40s, a vocational niche that spoke to him.
Not a “capital C” one, not Johnny Bos territory, he's not quirky like that.
He's not dumb, he smartly articulates the psychic ins and outs of plying this weird trade.
He's open to hearing critiques, which I think is wickedly crucial, and a massive reason why he's poised to carve out territory going into 2024 with way more confidence he owned when this started.
Readers of this piece likely know that Goldberg has been placing bouts in Sony Hall since last year.
And also know this, NYC is a challenging place to do business, as costs can accumulate faster than Joey Chestnut chows hot dogs, square footage is pricey and prized, still.
Boxing Insider Started in 1997
Goldberg had been used to being on the “coverage” side of it all, founding Boxing Insider in 1997, and maintaining its place in the media landscape.
So, it hit different when he read Thomas Hauser, the esteemed, the iconic, riffing on HIM.
Excerpt: If Goldberg’s pro debut had been in Montana or Kansas, it might have been similar to his amateur experiences. But it was in New York. Promoting a professional fight card under the best of circumstances is like herding twenty cats across a football field while a game is in progress. When promoting in New York, think fifty cats.
The New York State Athletic Commission has more rigorous protocols for promoters than any other state.
For example, the fighter medical insurance required in New York costs $1,645 per bout.
That’s $9,870 for a six-bout card. Line item costs such as hotel rooms for fighters and their teams are also higher in New York than in other jurisdictions.
Hausers' one four months later, though, had a more critical edge.
Right here is where the youngsters pondering their vocational direction should perk up.
Goldberg after feeling pain looked at the pieces from a different stance: he read where he could improve, saw where his ignorance or ego or whatever forced his hand.
He absorbed the criticism and didn't stay in feelings hurt mode. He plowed ahead.
And plowed into hidden obstacles, and deeper into a system which features, at times, cringingly blatant impositions of fairness and decency.
Larry has a knack for articulating all that, as he recalls his trippy year enroute to becoming someone who could fill a gap left by the place his mentor Lou DiBella is in.
He's a Hall of Famer, he's 63 years old, has baseball teams as a salve when his boxing stuff gets too hair-pully.
This grassroots efforting, it's more suited to a Larry than a Lou, at this juncture.
Goldberg Is First Media To Promoter Story?
“All credit goes to Heather Hardy, it’s because of her,” Goldberg said, citing one of the several persons instrumental in his first year success as fight promoter.
“There was an amateur show she was part of, she saw how I worked it, and how happy I was. Two weeks later, at a lunch, she said, ‘You’re promoting my next fight.’ told her I wasn’t licensed.”
She didn’t take the hint. And Larry’s fate took a turn.
He’d done internet marketing while administering BI, which he said he will be holding on to, but tweaking to be a platform for his new direction.
Making a full acquaintance of Lou DiBella has been a blessing, he said, because Lou has been there to help as a shock absorber as Goldberg’s “internship” plays out.
“Lou wasn’t sure who I was, he had me confused with three different people,” NYC’s busiest boxing promoter told me. “It was like, ‘Go home and get yer shine box.”
But no, Goldberg's been around, and isn't a dope, he sees what works and what works less well.
“I use to go to shows at the Amazura, and think, I could do this better. I’ve maybe been playing a little out of my league, Dmitriy Salita said I’m crazy, learning in toughest place to do business.
“BI was a money loser 16 of 24 years, and everyone in media hates each other. I like doing this, I think I can be good at this, as most doing it don’t have the fighters best interest at heart.
“We’ve done seven shows, some better than others. (Matchmaker) Eric Botjer said not one single show have people walked out unhappy with the fights,” he asserted.
Here's a quickie look at his first years' offerings:
Oct 13, 2022, first show. BoxRec will tell you Ivan Golub, Petros Ananyan, Andy Dominguez, Nadim Salloum and Heather Hardy snagged Ws at Sony Hall. Our man Randy Gordon provided a write-up to NYF readers.
We saw it as more so a Hardy comeback than the birth of Larry's new direction.
Gordon wrote this, of Hardy:
On a stormy night in New York City, Heather Hardy brought her heat back to the ring to continue her dream. Boxing is a world of improbability, made up of so many dreams. With her drive, work ethic, heart and determination, her dreams just may come true.
Not to be weepy, but the phrasing could apply to Larry, in retrospect. But of course, there were so many potholes to drop into, and deal with.
Second Show, A Sider Urbina Loses
The second show was Dec. 21, 2022, Larry proving not to be a one and done-r. Sulem Urbina got upset by Indeya Smith, Alejandro Silva, Anthony Sims Jr, Salloum and Dominguez triumphed.
Points for consistency, and limiting expenditures, Goldberg once again has a five-bout card. By this time, he’s gotten the hang of knowing a certain percentage of plans will go up in smoke.
New year, first show came Feb. 23, 2023, at Larry’s Place.
Heather Hardy, Frederic Julan, Tsendbaatar Erdenebat, Terell Bostic and Michael Hughes get wins on a Thursday night.
Hardy's comeback is coalescing, and in retrospect, it was handled so deftly.
And with poignance; the show gave love to the late Hector Roca, the Gleason's Gym staple who'd cornered Arturo Gatti.
He'd trained Hardy for the last couple years and they'd bonded heavily.
There are six bouts on the next BI show, 4-27-23, which has a heavy DiBella Entertainment flavor to it.
Miyo Yoshida, Erdenebat, David Lopez, Larry Fryers and Sydney Maccow are triumphant.
Maccow and Christian Otero are in a “Peltz special.”
A Thursday night summer in the city for the next BI card. We advanced the show.
On June 29, 2023, Kurt Scoby beat Hank Lundy in the main event. Matt Gonzalez and Brian Ceballo got wins, as did Arnold Gonzalez and Ray Cuadrado.
Larry did another summer hit, August 10, 2023 at Sony, Christina Cruz went to 5-0, and Dominguez, and Michael Proton won, while Gian Garrido was upset by Ed Diaz.
There were only four bouts on the card, Larry learned more lessons on this occasion.
Four bouts were featured on the last show, Oct. 10, which saw returnees Otero, Cruz and Hughes take decision wins.
140 pounder Cletus Seldin, from Long Island, prevailed in the main event versus Patrick Okine.
Larry shares some of the backstory dramas that made the year “interesting,” like at the second show, when the sound guy played “Wonderful Christmas Time” as a pugilist struggled to regain his senses after being stopped.
“Ugh,” Larry remembers.
After This Year, Who Is Larry Goldberg?
“I’m a nobody,” he says, with excessive humility. “I don’t think we broke a single big story in Boxing Insider. But this, this has been an interesting ride….now, it’s hard, because nobody will fight anybody, they all want to bring people in, and that won’t happen in NY, we don’t do the mismatches here.”
Yes, the standards applied in NY are more rigorous, often, than in neighboring states.
What might fly in NJ likely won’t in NY, and so choices have to be made.
And while managers and promoters might be inclined to pay to put a fight on a Goldberg card, they are less likely to pitch in if the foe is close to a “50-50” level clash.
Yeah, there’s an art and some science involved in putting together a card that is alluring, to get to that needed sellout level of attendance which allows Larry to maybe make some money.
“I don’t have a piece of these fighters,” he explained, which makes it both harder and easier to do business.
It gets to be an issue—think about it—if Larry puts a fighter on the show, spends time and money to do so, then what’s it all for if another promoter sees the talent and swoops in and signs the athlete.
In the last year or so, Goldberg says, he’s been disappointed to see how few people are looking out for the well being of the fighters.
Managers and trainers and team members along for the ride, but not really caring about the person.
That negative doesn’t mar the total picture for Goldberg, who says he wants his shows to be a breeding ground for local fighters, and yes, pick up some slack for ShoBox, which is no more.
David Goldberg Is Dearly Missed
He doesn't say it expressly, but I think he's wanting to see this play out, with part of his mind and heart doing it for his dad, who died July 23, 2023.
Dad David was in linen supply. He also was a poker ace who married Andi, and adored the heck out of his only kid.
So, it hurt and still does thinking about dad in the hospital, how he had to pull the plug when doctors deemed it a proper time.
“He was my best friend,” he says. David Goldberg was 74.
“The first four shows, him and Hauser sat together,” Larry said. “Then, he passed on July 23. I went through with a show on August 10.”
It was MS, with complications from Covid.
Larry isn't stuck in the grief, it seems.
He has a show being hashed out, with plenty of those lessons learned in the last year ringing in his head. “Everyone wants to fly in a jobber!”
Next Show: Dec 16, At Larry's Place
Worrying is a requisite state of mind now. Now, Goldberg is thinking “big picture” goings on which could affect one of his shows, to devastating effect.
Different times and seasons bring different potential worries. A freak snowstorm could kill him on any given night, from December to April.
But, he knows that he’s traversed hurdles high and low, like when gloves didn’t show up, and his people had to hustle to come up with mitts OK in NYC.
He presumes that won't be an issue come Dec. 16, the next show. He sends me a promo card, but says he's waiting for venue owner to OK it.
More summating from the year, from the exhilarating and draining ride: “Am I addicted to this? I’ve heard someone say, You do this for the first year for love of boxing…and the next five for revenge. I was in revenge mode minutes in!
“People will stab you in the back over the most petty things, but everything we’ve done has honorable, sure, there have been misunderstandings, and growing pains.
“Lou has been a great mentor, I love Lou to death. I thought I knew everything, I don’t know anything..I do now know more.
“If Hauser didn’t write that story I would have been out of business. I was playing fantasy boxing with real money. If last year you’d have told me I was going to promote seven boxing shows, I would told you to sober up…but I did. In this tiny little venue…
“But I’ve been blessed,” says Larry Goldberg, unlikely boxing promoter. “I’ve absorbed and now more so I’m going on instincts.”