Business & Economy

With LA Fight Club, De La Hoya tries to attract new fans to boxing

“We’re trying to attract a more casual fan, the fan who just wants to be entertained and at the same time watch some great fights,” said Oscar De La Hoya.
“We’re trying to attract a more casual fan, the fan who just wants to be entertained and at the same time watch some great fights,” said Oscar De La Hoya.
Jeff Bottari/Golden Boy/Golden Boy via Getty Images

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Boxing legend turned promoter Oscar De La Hoya says he first got the idea for LA Fight Club, a new monthly fight card that debuts Friday night, from "Fight Club," the 1999 cult classic that was filmed around Los Angeles.

“Every fight was exciting," De La Hoya said. "Every fight was, you’re going to see blood. You’re going to see action. LA Fight Club is that type of atmosphere."

De La Hoya first tried a downtown boxing card, called Fight Night Club, in 2009 at Club Nokia, but that ended in 2011 after what he describes as problems surrounding "conflicting contracts with sponsors."

This time, the bouts are happening at a very different sort of venue: The ornate Belasco Theater, which originally opened in 1926 and hosted plays for decades.

The fighters are all up and comers from Los Angeles, and after they exchange blows, the rink transforms into a nightclub.

“Due to all the intense fighting and people beating each other up, you would probably think that’s kind of weird to have a nightclub going on," said undefeated super bantamweight prospect and 2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz Jr., who is headlining Friday's event. "But I think after the fight, all the boxers are just going to be having a good time. They already put in the work."

This fight/nightclub/downtown mash-up is something De Le Hoya hopes will interest a younger generation, which tends to be less interested in boxing; Tickets start at $20. 

“We’re trying to attract a more casual fan, the fan who just wants to be entertained and at the same time watch some great fights,” said De La Hoya.

De La Hoya, who grew up in East LA, says he hopes LA Fight Club will capitalize on downtown's rich boxing history.

“You go back to the Olympic auditorium days where some of the biggest fights were staged,” said De La Hoya, referring to the venue which was originally built for the 1932 Olympic Games. (It's now a Korean church.)