June has been quite a busy and memorable month for the legendary boxing promoter Lou DiBella. The Brooklyn native and former HBO Sports executive not only promoted Australia’s undisputed World Lightweight Championship fight between Devon Haney and George Kambosos Jr., he was also officially inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. international in Canastota, New York. DiBella had been selected by the Hall of Fame committee in 2020 but the ceremony did not take place then due to COVID restrictions.
DiBella joined the WBGO Studios podcast Sports Jam with Doug Doyle to talk about his incredible career in the sports and entertainment industries.
“You know, it’s not very often in your career that you promote an event in front of 40,000+ people, and in fact in my career, that’s the second biggest crowd I’ve never promoted. I fought in Argentina with Sergio Martinez, it was in a monsoon and 52 thousand people still showed up. He slipped and hurt his ankle in the first round of the fight but still won. I’ll never forget that night either, but looking to be able to promote an event in front of 40,000 people in Australia a week before my induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame, I mean there was poetry there- inside.”
The promoter is also a member of the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame (2014) and the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame (2015).
Since starting DiBella Entertainment (DBE) in 2000, a full service sports and entertainment company, Lou has worked with many world class fighters including Sergio Martinez, Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor, Micky Ward, Deontay Wilder and George Kambosos.
Lou has never refrained from offering an honest opinion on any fight or development in the sport. DiBella has given his thoughts on Devon Haney’s victory over George Kambosos Jr. in Australia and whether or not there will be a rematch.
“It was an interesting fight but it was sort of dominating by Devon Haney. Honestly, it was a masterful performance from a very young kid. The whole fight was the jab. It was the jab as a weapon. You know you hear boxers say all the time that the key to boxing is the jab, the jab sets it all up, the jab is kind of the setter for everything that follows, but you really saw that particular fight. I mean Devon Haney completely controlled this fight with a jab, kept Kambosos at bay, kept Kambosos from landing his usual barrage of punches, really confused him in there and it was really a clinic of boxing. I don’t think it was Kambosos night either. You know that’s one of the things about all sports and in boxing it’s harder than any other sport because your whole career can change in ten seconds if you get caught with a punch. that can certainly change in a 10 round fight. You can have a bad streak in baseball, a bad month, you can have a bad year in baseball in a multi-year contract and it doesn’t affect you that much. But ten seconds in a boxing match can change your professional life, and one poor performance can change your professional life. It was a really distracted and poor night for George I thought. I think if there’s a rematch, and I think there will be, it’s going to be a much better fight because basically Kambosos has to do it all and just have to pay the price for trying to get through this blow.”
DiBella’s journey to becoming a boxing promoter is unique. He graduated from Regis High School in New York, then continued his studies at Tufts University, wanting to become a radio host. Once he realized there was no money in this field, he quickly pivoted to pursue a Juris Doctor degree at Harvard Law School. After four years as a lawyer, he landed a job with HBO Sports and would eventually become a senior executive there for over a decade.
Lou is also a fixture in the film industry, having worked as an executive producer for the film Love Ranchas associate producer on The fighter, and made his acting debut in Rocky Balboa.
“If you’re my age, I’m around 60, two things are for sure. You’ve been influenced, if you’re into boxing, you’ve been influenced by Muhammad Ali and you’ve been influenced by Rocky Balboa. He doesn’t there’s nobody in my age bracket who was into boxing that was influenced by the Rocky movies, so being able to play a promoter in a Rocky movie and having that promoter named Lou DiBella, I was able to use my logo and brand in the movie, it was a great opportunity and I will always be grateful to ‘Sly’ (Sylvester Stallone) for that opportunity. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
His “ultimate” hero has always been Mohamed Ali and Lou had the opportunity to work and chat with “The Greatest” at the end of the champion’s career.
“I never knew Muhammad when he was healthy. He was always completely there, brilliant, engaging and kind, I picked the right hero.”
Arguably Lou was perhaps one of the most influential network television executives for boxing where he not only oversaw the quality of television boxing but improved it, expanding the reach of the product Lighthouse. boxing world championship real estate, long considered the gold standard, by developing and managing the Boxing after dark franchise. Boxing after dark not only created more opportunities to televise high-quality boxing for fans, but it also found unpolished gems that would be developed into major attractions. And Lou was ahead of the curve in understanding the sport’s global appeal and brought big stars like Prince Naseem Hamed and Lennox Lewis to the United States. Boxing on HBO has become a global brand under Lou’s programming leadership and a major reason to attract – and retain – subscribers.
DiBella has also produced or produced numerous documentaries, such as Long live baseball!, magic man, maravillaand Larry Flynt for President.
In this SportsJam edition, DiBella tells the story of how a General Counsel’s scheduled interview with New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, one that was shot by the owner because even though he thought the resume of Lou was impressive, he considered DiBella, who was in his late twenties, too young for the job. DiBella would eventually head to HBO Sports after that opportunity quickly closed. Always passionate about baseball, especially Minor Leaue baseball, DiBella is now President and Managing Partner of the Richmond flying squirrels baseball team, he proudly wears his 2010, 2012, and 2014 World Series rings, as his team is the Class AA affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. In 2017, DiBella also became CEO and owner-manager of the Montgomery Cookies Tampa Bay Rays AA-affiliated baseball team.
“We consistently win awards for being among the best names and logos in Minor League Baseball. The Squirrels have a huge following and our merchandise is everywhere. We have a huge following. “Monty” The Biscuit is a cool logo. How many teams have a butter cookie as their logo. Everyone loves cookies.
You can SEE all my SportsJam interview with Lou DiBella here.