SBJ/March 24 - 30, 2003/Labor Agents

Amateur champ turns pro with an eye toward NBC’s new boxing deal

NBC's new deal to televise boxing events played a major role in a decision by amateur national champion heavyweight B.J. Flores to turn professional.

Flores gave up his amateur status and his shot to win a medal for the United States in the 2004 Olympics to sign a multi-fight promotional deal with Main Events. That Bloomfield, N.J.-based boxing promoter recently signed a deal with NBC to promote three fight cards in May — the first time the network will have broadcast boxing since 1992.

"I did want to go to the Olympics," Flores said. "When I heard that Main Events signed a contract with NBC ... I thought it would be in my best interests to go pro now."

Neither Flores nor Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events, would provide the financial details of Flores' contract.

Heavyweight B.J. Flores picked promoter Main Events over a shot at the Olympics.
"As he progresses ... in the life of the deal, it will get well into the seven figures," Duva said. "We're hopeful it will get into the eight figures."

Duva said Flores may be featured on the first NBC boxing show, which will air at 3:30 p.m. Eastern May 3, just before the Kentucky Derby. Another boxing show will air just before the Preakness two weeks later.

Flores' father, Frank Flores, an American Airlines pilot, negotiated the fighter's contract with Main Events and serves as his manager.

B.J. Flores said some of the people at USA Boxing "were a little upset" after learning that he would give up his amateur status.

"We are definitely sad he is turning pro," said Julie Goldsticker, director of media for USA Boxing. "He is the two-time national champion. From a media perspective, he was great. He is extremely intelligent, well-spoken. He is a role-model type."

Duva agreed with that assessment and said Main Events hopes to secure endorsements for Flores.

"We signed him because we believe he may be the most marketable young amateur that is out there," she said.

In addition to winning a Golden Gloves championship and two national championships, Flores achieved a 3.3 grade-point average as a communications major at Arizona State University. Flores said he is already planning for a second career as a broadcaster when his boxing days are over.

"He is exactly the kind of fighter we want to associate ourselves with," Duva said. "This is the image that our sport needs to project if it wants to survive."

PING EXEC BECOMES AGENT: Cricket Musch has done a lot of deals in his 10 years in Ping's endorsement division.

Now Musch is giving up his title as Ping's director of tour player relations to sit on the other side of the negotiating table for golf boutique agency Gaylord Sports Management. Musch will start his new job as Gaylord's director of business development in the first week of April.

"I have wanted to see the other side of this business from a different perspective," Musch said. "I think everyone looks for growth in their life, and I thought this would be a great opportunity."

Musch, who oversaw Ping's endorsement deals with about 60 golfers worldwide, said he will recruit and manage golfers at Gaylord.

BOLITAR WILL RISE AGAIN: Author Harlan Coben, who wrote a series of books about a crime-solving sports agent, promises to eventually bring back his fictional hero, Myron Bolitar.

Author Harlan Coben is out of the mystery-solving-sports-agent genre -- for now.
Bolitar, the star of seven Coben novels, inevitably ended up solving crimes that involved his star athlete clients. Unlike most agents, who specialize in one sport, Bolitar dabbled in football, baseball, tennis, golf and both men's and women's basketball.

Coben admitted that Bolitar's range of sports specialties was a bit unrealistic but said it provided a variety of environments in which to solve crimes. The novel "Drop Shot," for example, revolves around a murder at the U.S. Open tennis championship. "Back Spin" takes place at golf's U.S. Open.

Bolitar does not appear in Coben's latest book, "No Second Chance," published by Dutton and in bookstores April 28.

Bolitar's best friend, Win, a wealthy financial adviser who could kill a man with his bare hands, may reappear first.

"Win might come back before Myron," Coben said, adding that the book he's now writing needs "a guy who is a little tough."

Although Coben's Myron Bolitar books have done well, his two most recent novels, "Tell No One" and "Gone for Good," neither of which included Bolitar, were international best-sellers.

"I will bring [Bolitar] back, anyway," Coben said. "I just don't know how or when."

Please contact Liz Mullen at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com with labor and agent news.

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