Peter Clarke Interviews WFC President and CEO Matt McGovern


    Matt McGovernIt’s very rare to see a 32-year-old CEO and President of a boxing promotion, but that is just what Matt McGovern is. The young businessman runs WFC (World Fighting Championship), a smaller boxing and mixed martial arts promotional company that has had all of their boxing events in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The promotional company held it’s 1st event in 2012, but has starting doing boxing shows since November 2013.

    McGovern has such a great relationship and reputation with numerous casinos that he has spoken with bigger casinos for bigger promotions to host bigger fights that you may not even had known he was involved in, which included Lucas Matthysse vs. Ruslan Provodnikov, which he was working on taking place at a major casino in Las Vegas, but the date just didn’t match up.

    I asked McGovern about working with other promoters that are bigger and much older than him.

    “At 1st when I said that I had a very good relationship with a lot of the casinos, they say ‘Alright, sure kid’, but I’ll say this, probably every promotional company has taken worse deals than I’ve taken for my promotional fee with my relationship with the casinos.”

    WFC’s 1st boxing event was a co-promotion with Bob Arum, but I asked about what other promoters he had worked with in any way.

    “I’ve had conversations with almost everyone, whether it’s exchanging offers or me working on getting them a good fee with the casinos, I’m talking Golden Boy, PBC, Banner, Lou DiBella, so I’ve spoken with all of them.”

    McGovern has had a good amount of success so far in the business, so I asked him how does he do it?

    “We are very disciplined. We stick to a model. We don’t right for the home runs right now, we just stick to the disciplined model. I’ve done 50 events myself and WFC 40 events and we’ve never lost money on an event. Probably 99% of promoters have lost money at some point, but of course they have hit bigger home runs than we have. We just stick to a new-aged type of model, a lighter staff, a lighter team, and budget a lot smaller than other people can because of certain efficiencies that we do”, said McGovern.

    However, in terms of what’s next for WFC, PBC and other promotions have slightly sidetracked him.

    “The boxing game changed my plans this year because we were talking with ESPN and ShoBox about televising some events by ourselves, not co-promotion. However, when PBC came out, he kind of took those opportunities away from smaller promotions like us. Now, other promoters are paying for the time on CBS Sports and promoters are paying for all the stations like PBC. Some smaller promotions are buying times on networks. I just don’t see the point of a smaller promotion doing that, either you hit a bunch of doubles or you go all in like PBC is doing..

    “We’re still looking for the long-term vision because as the sport evolves, you have to change. Right now in the boxing world, there is a huge limitation on fighters. A lot of the top promoters in the sport are not investing on the fighter’s development. If you look at what UFC has done, they’ve spent 10s of millions in amateur MMA. You don’t see the bigger promoters coming together to invest in some of the smaller younger boxing programs. You see with all the PBC events, the price of the fighters is going up tremendously because of the limited amount of fighters.

    “I got a guy who’s fighting tomorrow, Justin Thomas (12-0 with 6 KO’s). He’s a middleweight and this is his hometown. He’s going to have at least 1,000 people here just to watch him. So you’re coming into his hometown, he’s a southpaw, decent power, and you got to fight him for eight rounds for less money because it’s not televised. I got a small budget and have to hope he’s victorious as I try to build him up. The other guy doesn’t have much incentive to fight him”, said McGovern.

    WFC has an event on June 6th, WFC 40, headlined by Justin Thomas vs. Mike Guy (someone who has sparred with Andre Ward) and Eric Johnson vs K Lon Spencer.

    Despite going up against another MMA event, a WWE event, and a LSU baseball, all in the same area, they still were able to sell out the fight with 1,700 seats and another 1,000 standing room tickets. Speaking about the show, McGovern said the following:

    “This is not just another small boxing show that you sometimes see in Vegas where there is not a lot of interest from the fights or promoters, media, or even the fans. Here you have an event where people are spending money they haven’t even earned yet just to get here. We do events other places like Vegas, Oregon, and people don’t care as much, it makes it special. Dealing with the matchmaking, drama, and stress, it make it all worth it to see everyone happy. It’s important to the fighters, it’s important to the fans, and it’s important to me.”

    McGovern mentioned another fighter, Travis Scott (18-0 with 4 KO’s), who has been out for the last eight months, but will be returning for their next boxing card WFC 43 on September 18th. McGovern said he thinks he is a couple fights from getting a big fight. He also said he will be talking with people about possible events in California, Indiana, and Atlantic City, but it has to make financial sense.

    “It just has to make dollars and sense,” he added.

    McGovern says he still has a lot to learn, but he’ll get there, by speaking with him tonight, he’s a name you need to remember because after speaking with him, he will definitely have you believing, he will get there.