Kathy Duva is a queen amongst powerful men in a sport that is male dominant in every aspect. Once upon a time she sat at the top of the food chain with her late husband Don Duva as their company Main Events was a major player along with Top Rank and Don King. These days they are still players but chose a different model of business. “Top Rank and Golden Boy sit at the big table and I’m fine that. I learned a long time ago not to compete with them but to build my business the right way”, said Duva.
You see her business model is different. She prefers quality over quantity. Duva explains “I rather do a really good job with a number of fighters then do a mediocre job with a lot of fighters. All the people really care about is good fights even if these fighters have losses. With the big companies, they line up their fighters plenty of times with 10-1 underdogs just to pad their records until they get them to a big fight and then live and die with their fighter on that big fight.” It’s because of circumstances like that; Kathy has been able to turn her biggest weakness into her biggest strengths. “Our business model has changed and now being a quality promotional company is makes more sense than to be a large promotional company”.
Duva has made sound business decisions and has not depended on the networks to build her brand. “They key is to be active and not have your fighters sit around. We took on guys like Tomasz Adamek and Zab Judah and rebuilt them. We built a lot of the Adamek success in Newark at the gate and with the overseas European money”, said Duva.
Now it’s time to build heavyweight boxing in this country and that’s what Duva envisions. Duva says, “We have to build our heavyweight division. That means having the top contenders face each other. The problem in this country is the American heavyweights are protected. So they pad their records just enough to get the attention of the champions in Europe and when they step up, they get beaten pretty badly. That platform exists in Europe and that’s why their heavyweights are better. Now what I want to do is build that platform here. I feel like I’ve started that legwork with the fight between Bryant Jennings and Maurice Bryarm that is my proof. The fight was exciting. After Jennings won, he came back winning his next fight and is on course for another fight again. Even the loser of that bout, Bryarm will come back on one of our undercards”.
Duva hopes that this formula continues in her next heavyweight fight night when Tomasz Adamek confronts Eddie Chambers in Newark, NJ on June 16th. When asked what would be on deck for the winner, Kathy laughed and said, “Good question. I haven’t thought about it yet. What I would hope for is a great fight where both the winner and the loser will have options after the fight”.
It’s that mindset and push that brought interested from the NBC Sports Network to come to Duva to broadcast some of her talents and it also didn’t hurt that Dana White give her a little help. “The way sports networks are now, they need 24 hour programming and NBC has always taken an interest in boxing. So when NBC took over Comcast, they were keen putting active combat sports on with the exit of UFC going to Fox Sports, there was a huge opening for us. So on top of thanking Dana White, I also knew I had to put on a good product”, explained Duva.
So far the numbers don’t lie. On top of bringing in good ratings for her first few shows on the NBC Sports Network, NBC has added additional dates for Main Events to display its talents. Duva is working hard to finish up her second half of 2012 schedule and also has reason to celebrate. “Things have been going so well that maybe in a week or so we will announce a new deal with the NBC Sports Network to bring more exciting fights for the fans. It’s because of NBC that boxing may enter the realm of being back on network television. I’m in debt to NBC because they always treated me the same since the beginning and have had faith and confidence in Main Events and the sport of boxing”, said Duva excitingly about reaching a new deal with NBC Sports Network.
One of the major players on her stable that has been a reason for her success is Zab “Super” Judah. After his impressive victory over Vernon Paris on the NBC Sports Network in March, Zab’s name has become relevant and hot again. There are many options on the table, one being a fight with WBC Jr. Welterweight champ, a massive fight in Brooklyn against new welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi, or even the winner of the rematch between Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan since Judah is the mandatory for the IBF title Peterson holds. “We’re open to all of those options. If Peterson wins, the fight will be easy to make. But if Khan wins, it will be hard negotiating with Golden Boy and he may vacate and move up any way”, said Duva.
There is one fight that she’s very willing to make. Duva explain eagerly, “Well we heard Juan Manuel Marquez was looking for an opponent on July 14th and a southpaw no less. So tell me it doesn’t it make sense for him to pick Judah? We’re actively pursuing that fight and are waiting to hear back from Top Rank because that’s a fight that will sell on pay-per-view and create fireworks.”
Who can disagree with the instincts of a woman who’s been in the boxing industry for as long as she has? Maybe it’s her knowledge of the ins and outs of this game. Maybe it’s the experience of what would be over three decades in a male populated sport. Duva trumps all those reasons with one of her own. “It’s the woman in me. Women are more detailed. Women see problems before they come and try to solve it them. While men wait for the problem to happen then try and solve it. Woman in boxing are fans like you are. The women in boxing don’t have a lot invested in our egos like a lot of men. That’s why my intention is not to be the Wal-Mart of boxing where we’re big and sell you a cheap product. I’m the one that sells you a more refined product, a quality product”.