SBD/August 19, 2014/Labor and Agents

Roc Nation Sports Wins Bid For Quillin-Korobov Fight, Hires Itskowitch As COO

Roc Nation Sports will promote Quillin's (r) title defense against Korobov
Roc Nation Sports yesterday "won a purse bid" for the promotional rights to the WBO Peter Quillin-Matt Korobov middleweight title fight "even though it does not promote either fighter," according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com. Roc Nation "bid a whopping $1,904,840 and handily defeated two other bidders." Roc Nation's "tentative plan is to put the fight on" Nov. 8 in N.Y. or DC, the two places it has "obtained a license to promote boxing." It still has to "negotiate a television deal." It is "unusual for a promoter to bid on a fight in which it has no ties," but Roc Nation "wanted to make a splash" in the boxing promotion industry. Roc Nation boxing division COO David Itskowitch said, "We're looking to make an immediate and dramatic impact on the sport." Rafael reported Roc Nation has "no fighters under contract yet but plans to build a stable." In the meantime, picking up "rights to fights at purse bids is one way to secure fights around which cards can be built" (ESPN.com, 8/18). In N.Y., Mitch Abramson notes Roc Nation's plan is to "promote cards and also to turn boxers into celebrities, transforming them into cultural figures similar to the athletes the agency represents," including Thunder F Kevin Durant, Yankees P CC Sabathia and Giants WR Victor Cruz. Roc Nation President & Chief Strategy Officer Michael Yormark: "This is an opportunity for us to change the game" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/19).

BUILDING A REPUTATION: ESPN.com's Rafael wrote Itskowitch is a "highly respected and experienced executive with 18 years in the boxing business." Yormark said, "This is a serious business for us moving forward, and Dave has one of the great reputations in the boxing industry. Hiring him should be a loud and clear statement this is serious for us and that we will do this the right way." Itskowitch from '96-'00 worked for former HBO Sports Senior VP and promoter Lou DiBella. When DiBella "left HBO to found his own promotional company, Itskowitch went with him and worked as his right-hand man" from '00-06. Itskowitch then "joined powerhouse Golden Boy Promotions" as its COO, working for Oscar De La Hoya's company from '07 until "resigning last summer to take some time off" (ESPN.com, 8/18).
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