Promoter Chargin Still in Class by Himself
Don Chargin, maybe the last gentleman promoter left in boxing, maybe the truest tie remaining to L.A.'s days as a red-hot fight town, says that he would be surprised if he stayed active in the sport for more than another year.
But can anybody imagine boxing without him?
“Don’s a legend,” said Dino Duva, whose late brother, Dan Duva, founded Main Events promotions and brought Chargin in as an associate more than a decade ago. “I mean, I don’t know the statistics, but I’d be willing to bet that Don has promoted more world title fights than anybody in history.
“I know Don taught my brother a lot about this business. Hey, he used to do those weekly Olympic fights. . . . It’s unbelievable that he did those weekly fights like that and with the success that he had, really amazing. That’s not possible to do now.”
After the Olympic Auditorium closed in the mid-1980s, Chargin moved to other venues, and has lately staged most of his shows in Sacramento. This week, he held a successful show in Stockton, then drove all night to L.A. to attend the funeral of his friend, Times columnist Allan Malamud.
Chargin, 68, wasn’t a part of the Olympic’s reopening several years ago, but recently went back for the first time when one of his fighters, Mexican welterweight Luis Ramon (Yory Boy) Campas drew the building’s biggest crowd since the renovation.
Because of a scheduling conflict in Sacramento, Chargin is bringing Campas back to L.A. on Oct. 6, this time to the Sports Arena, site of the Chargin-promoted, legendary Danny (Little Red) Lopez-Bobby Chacon bout in 1974.
But, although there are one or two shows in the L.A. area every week, there hasn’t been the consistent craving for boxing since Chargin and the Olympic closed shop here. Chargin, who is friendly with Peter Broudy, the local promoter who took over the Olympic promotions after Bob Arum gave up on the building, has noticed the drop-off.
“In all my years at the Olympic, we had our ups and downs--thank God it was more ups than downs,” Chargin said. “We had a streak when we had all the best lightweights in the world, and we were always sure with that group of guys we had, there would always be a sellout every six weeks or so, and in between, we could have some less popular shows.”
As for the oft-criticized, hyperkinetic Broudy, Chargin says he should be given a chance to try his own thing at the Olympic and the other buildings--including the Sports Arena--where Broudy is putting shows.
“I think he deserves a lot of credit because he keeps trying,” Chargin said. “I really started to talk to him because everybody was knocking him so badly. I want to give the poor guy a chance. He sure has the energy.”
Chargin, though, says he’s wearing down, finally feeling the effects of all those long drives, hard sells and tense negotiations.
“I don’t know if I’ll go for much longer past this year,” he said. “I’m just going to go all over Northern California. I think I’ve promoted in more towns and more cities than anybody, and I think I’m going to try to visit every one of places with at least one show. San Francisco, Richmond, all those places.”
Besides promoting Campas, Chargin will help start the career of Olympian Fernando Vargas, the 18-year-old Oxnard welterweight who recently signed with the East Coast Duva operation.
“I say a year or two years, but I know if Vargas or somebody like Vargas comes along and really gets going, probably like an old fire horse, I would keep going,” Chargin said. “I think Vargas could be a heck of an L.A. attraction.”
Vargas, who spent time with trainer Lou Duva and Pernell Whitaker before the Whitaker-Wilfredo Rivera bout earlier this month, probably will make his pro debut in late November, at Oxnard or possibly the Forum.
Improvising quickly, promoter Bob Arum put the pieces of the Oct. 12 Oscar De La Hoya-Miguel Angel Gonzalez card back together, and moved the new card, headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez-Joey Gamache, from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to the Pond of Anaheim, where Chavez will make his first Southern California start since defeating Roger Mayweather at the Forum on May 13, 1989.
Arum had to preserve the show, to be distributed by TVKO on pay-per-view, because Chavez had negotiated to turn his $1.4-million purse over to the Mexican government, which had put out a warrant for his arrest on tax-evasion charges.
Pond spokesman John Nicoletti, pointing out that the Pond’s largest crowd to date was the more than 19,000 for the closed-circuit showing of Chavez’s loss to Oscar De La Hoya last June, said that with 8,000 of the tickets priced at $20, “a sellout [19,255] is absolutely a possibility” for the Oct. 12 date.
Chavez also is scheduled to be on the De La Hoya-Gonzalez card, delayed till Jan. 18, and one possible opponent is International Boxing Federation junior-welterweight champion Kostya Tsyzu, considered one of the stronger young titleholders.
De La Hoya said he applauds heavyweight Tommy Morrison’s decision to return to boxing, despite his HIV-positive status. “I think he should do it to prove a point about boxing,” De La Hoya said. “Look at what Magic Johnson is doing. Why can’t Morrison do the same thing? I wouldn’t be scared if I went up against somebody who had HIV.”
Promoter Dino Duva is less convinced, and says he would never put one of his fighters in against Morrison. “My heart goes out for what Tommy’s been going through--it’s a tragedy what happened,” Duva said. “But I think it’s wrong for him to want to come back into the ring, and I think it would be wrong for any commission to allow him. But, unfortunately, I think there will be a commission that lets him fight. And someone will want to get in the ring with him for the payday. I understand what Tommy is going through emotionally--he says this is only a one-fight thing. But, if he [scores a] first-round knockout, you just know he will want another one.”
A card featuring Robert Garcia, scheduled for the Radisson Suites Hotel in Oxnard, has been postponed from tonight to early October, at a location to be determined. . . . Paea Wolfgramm, the Tongan super-heavyweight who was a hit at the Atlanta Olympics on his way to a silver medal, has agreed to sign with America Presents, joining American gold medal-winning light-middleweight, David Reid. . . . Super-middleweight Roy Jones Jr. is trying to line up a pay-per-view fight at the Forum in January or February, against either James Toney, who has ballooned to more than 200 pounds, or perhaps one of the smaller heavyweights.