THIS time last year Steve Goodwin had approximately 70 professional boxers on the books and was looking to establish himself as more manager than promoter in 2017.
Now, with 2017 on its way out, Goodwin has 105 signed to Goodwin Boxing, managed some recognisable names and champions, and this year promoted 11 shows, as well as one in conjunction with David Haye’s Hayemaker Boxing.
All in all, then, 2017 has been a fruitful one for Steve and the Goodwin family (daughter Olivia and son Josh also promote). “We’re increasing the quantity but we’re also increasing the quality as well,” he told Boxing News. “I think that will be borne out next year with the amount of champions we have.”
In 2017, Goodwin signed the likes of Derek Chisora, Frank Buglioni and Natasha Jonas. He also strengthened promotional ties with David Haye and the Sauerland brothers, Kalle and Nisse. But it was the crowning of a young lightweight from Mitcham that will stick with Goodwin as he approaches 2018.
“My highlight is a young kid called Jumanne Camero winning the Southern Area title,” he said. “He had no real experience and won it in his sixth fight. His trainer, Barry O’Connell, has given me so much support and it meant a lot to them. That was something really good to witness. That was a really big highlight for me.
“Obviously Frank Buglioni had two defences of his British title, which was good, as was the development of relationships with people like David Haye. We’re working very closely with him on his TV deal (with Dave) and we’ll be supplying some of the title fights for his undercard. That’s a very good association for our boxers. We’re building so many fighters towards titles next year.”
Goodwin, 55, in contrast to many of his peers, has no bone to pick with anyone, nor any desire to become embroiled in a feud. Indeed, his position on the outskirts – key to his rare willingness to work with other promoters – affords him a clearer perspective on the health of British boxing moving forward and allows him to speak objectively rather than with any agenda or motive.
With work as a financial adviser providing security boxing cannot, Goodwin’s approach to the sport is an unusually relaxed and honest one. He cares less about making life-changing money – an impossibility, he says – and more about making a difference, both to the boxers he promoters and manages and to the sport itself. It’s why his eyes are wide open. It’s why his opinion matters.
“I think boxing is in a good place because what you are seeing are other television broadcasters dipping their toes in the water,” he said. “But not every fight is pay-per-view worthy. If you have a fight like (Anthony) Joshua vs. (Wladimir) Klitschko, you need that pay-per-view money to make it financially viable. I haven’t really got a problem with that. But when you try to charge for certain other fights, it’s a bit ridiculous. I think the pay-per-view model is probably used too frequently. Didn’t they charge for Eubank vs. (Avni) Yildirim? Really? If you did Eubank vs. Yildirim and Groves vs. (Jamie) Cox on free television it really would have built up the profile for their pay-per-view fight in February.
“ITV was a broadcaster I had a lot of hope for 12 months ago, but they just seem to be so focused on pay-per-view, and these are fights that are not really good enough. They shouldn’t be pay-per-view. I think that’s where ITV have really missed a trick.
“ITV need to get it sorted, but you’ve got BT Sport, and Dave, who are committed to boxing, and also Channel 5, who seem to be wanting to extend their involvement with boxing. The problem we’ve got is an emphasis on paid-for products rather than free-to-air products. That’s what David Haye is trying to do – free-to-air boxing. The objective is for this to be the way forward. The model he is setting up could be the way forward for boxing because he’s not doing pay-per-view fights.”
Able to work within boxing’s flimsy framework without the need for pay-per-view, Goodwin is well-positioned to cast an eye over the 2017 progress of Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren, the two leading promoters in Britain, two men whose ongoing rivalry is as captivating as any in the country right now.
“If we go back 18 months, Eddie Hearn was the top dog by a country mile and Frank Warren was fairly dead in the water,” said Goodwin. “But Frank Warren is definitely getting a resurgence. Eddie Hearn, I would say, is not so far ahead.
“What you do have, though, are groups of boxers who wouldn’t work with Frank Warren. You see that in some of the interviews they do. If a top talent is out there, Eddie Hearn is still the first choice of boxers, definitely. You can say (Carl) Frampton proves otherwise, but, as a general rule, you’d say most fighters tend to want to go to Hearn first.
“Frank, though, has definitely narrowed the gap.”
*** An in-depth feature on Steve Goodwin can be read in the January 4, 2018 issue of Boxing News magazine ***