Innovation and the art of promotion have very much been key to Tom Loeffler’s success. Perhaps best known for his work with Gennady Golovkin, one of the best middleweight champions of the modern era, ‘The People’s Promoter’ was also responsible for building the Klitschkos, turning Roman Gonzalez - AKA ‘Chocolatito’ - into one of the biggest names in boxing and shining a light on the smaller weight classes. Not content with that, Loeffler can also be credited with bringing women’s boxing to television screens in the US, and, best of all, he’s far from done yet - as his success with Callum Walsh proves.

BS: You were an innovator in terms of bringing the junior bantamweight division and women's boxing to HBO. Do you look back now and see that you've made a big impact on those divisions?

Loeffler: I’d like to think that. It was a formula that most if not all the other promoters weren't using in terms of putting the spotlight on the lighter divisions, and also putting the best show together and for the fans and for the TV. 

When ‘Chocolatito’ was paired with ‘Triple G’ [Golovkin],we literally had the two best pound-for-pound fighters. I don't think that's ever been done before. On any show. We had the two best universally recognized pound-for-pound fighters at the time with Triple G and Chocolatito and the fans reacted to Chocolatito in such a strong way that we were able to spin off his fights to headline, his own show, and we created the ‘Superfly’ series with Peter Nelson and HBO. He had the foresight to see that, and once Chocolatito had the HBO spotlight shone on him, all of a sudden, he became a fan favorite and broke into the mainstream. 

Whereas before, fighters in that division were fighting in Mexico and Japan, and he in his home country of Nicaragua. But as soon as he got the spotlight shone on him here in the United States, purses went up naturally, and he was a breakout star. It's nice to see some of the other promoters walking in those footsteps with the path that we created because we had such success with that Superfly series. 

Unfortunately, HBO stopped broadcasting boxing but [before that] same thing with Cecilia Brækhus. In the 45-year history [of HBO] she was the first female fight ever on HBO and that was luck; in terms of some of it was bad luck for Triple G and some good luck for Cecilia. 

She was going to be on the pay-per-view broadcast with Triple G-Canelo II, Canelo tested positive, then the show went from pay-per-view to HBO. 

Because Cecilia had already been training and ‘Chocolatito’ had gotten injured she was approved to be in the co-feature slot for the Triple G show. So that's how she got on HBO and HBO was so impressed with her that they actually gave her her own event on HBO’s last ever show.

BS: She fought Kali Reis and had to get off the deck to win, right? 

Loeffler: She got knocked down. It was a flash knockdown, but she did get knocked down but then won most of the other rounds. It was perfect for that spot because we needed a competitive fight - specifically for women's boxing. 

There's been a lot of pioneers in women's boxing, Christy Martin, Lucia Rijker, and Cecilia Brækhus is right there in that discussion, holding three Guinness Book of World Records [including] one for the most undisputed title defenses and one for the longest undisputed championship reign. 

She really developed professional boxing single-handedly in Norway. It was actually officially banned in Norway. She made the petition over there with the prime minister that got voted in. [Before that] she could fight anywhere in the world, defend her world titles except for her home country. The prime minister made a promise to her if she got elected that she would approve professional boxing.

BS: Will Gennadiy Golovkin ever officially retire? 

Loeffler: I'm still in regular contact with him, and he's got a huge position over there in Kazakhstan. He's actually the head of the National Olympic Committee, and with the Paris Olympics coming up this year, and with the Los Angeles Olympics coming up in 2028 there's a lot of responsibility that he has, and it's a very high-profile position, especially as an amateur world champion, Olympic silver medalist and global superstar in the professional ranks. 

He is definitely well suited for that job because he knows boxing inside and out, both on the Olympic level and on the professional level, and I think he's able to blend that experience into really creating a strong Kazakh Olympic presence

BS: What was Chocolatito’s greatest moment to you? 

Loeffler: I would actually say when he was at Madison Square Garden on the Triple G Show and put on a tremendous performance against Brian Viloria (W TKO 7, October 2015). Viloria was one of those world-class, well-known fighters and he gave one last effort and really rose to the occasion, fighting on HBO at Madison Square Garden, and just came up a little bit short. Chocolatito put on a masterclass of a performance.

BS: What made it stand out?

Loeffler: It was like a soccer atmosphere. You had Triple G with all the Kazakh flags, you had Chocolatito with all the Nicaraguan flags. The crowd was cheering for both of them. The atmosphere that he brought with him to New York to Madison Square Garden for the boxing fans, and just the excitement in the ring. It was basically non-stop punching between Chocolatito and Viloria. It really brought fireworks there to The Garden and made him a fan favorite.

BS: How far is Gor Yeritsyan from a big fight?

Loeffler: Gor is one of those guys that had a great amateur career, representing Armenia, his home country, and has taken to the professional ranks, similar to Callum Walsh. He trains with Freddie Roach, he’s a very aggressive fighter, with a lot of knockout power. So I think, with this fight, (vs. Aram Amirkhanyan] on July 26, will be his first title defense of the WBC Continental Americas welterweight title, and within one or two more fights, he's going to be ready to challenge anyone in the top 10.

BS: When it is all said and done, what did you give to boxing? 

Loeffler: I like to think that I provided value for the fans, and just a great atmosphere. One fight that stands out is when we bought Triple G ‘home’ - he was training in Big Bear, California and living here in Los Angeles. 

But he was fighting either overseas or fighting in New York City. The homecoming where we went to the StubHub Center [to fight Marco Antonio Rubio in October 2014]. It holds 7,000 people, and we had such a demand, we sold out three weeks before the event, completely sold out every single ticket. 

So I spoke to the arena and we actually set up 2,000 bleachers for 2,000 additional fans. So we had 9,000 fans in a 7,000-seat venue and the atmosphere there was tremendous. In fact, that venue still uses that event, the first Triple G event, as [part of] their promotion. They had a drone flying around and they had all the production with HBO and the lights and the crowd and the bleachers. It was a tremendous atmosphere. 

We had a tailgate party there - I just like to provide value for the fans, whether it’s the live experience [or those watching at home]. When Triple G did the walkout, acknowledging the fans, the first time ever a champion walked all the way round that venue to acknowledge the fans watching on the telecast.

I feel like discovering new stars. A lot of people didn't even know where Kazakhstan was before. Either they watched ‘Borat' that was the only connection to Kazakhstan, or Triple G. Same thing with the Klitschko brothers. I was really honored to have started the promotional company with K2 Promotions and that they put their trust into me. 

Our first fight, at Staples Center in 2004 was Vitali fighting for the [vacant] WBC heavyweight championship [against Corrie Sanders]. 

When Lennox Lewis retired and vacated the title, because he knew he shouldn't do the rematch with Vitali after that first fight [that Lewis won on cuts in six rounds following a brutal fight]. 

So kind of trial by fire, the very first fight on HBO, brand new arena Staples Center, where the Lakers were playing premier venue, international TV, and it was a successful event. Then ever since that show, I promoted all the Klitschko fights, so I’m also proud to hold the record for the most heavyweight championship fights by any promoter of this century. 

It's great to see [Oleksandr] Usyk carrying on that tradition because he's with K2 Ukraine, which was our sister company. So it's tremendous seeing the Ukrainian fighters, the Kazakh fighters that I work with now, Callum Walsh is the first Irish fighter [I’ve worked with], that really seems to be my niche in terms of bringing these people from all over the world and making them stars here in the United States. 

BS: Why has Callum Walsh become a crossover star? 

Loeffler: I've been in boxing for over 30 years and this is the first time that I've seen a boxer being cross-promoted with the UFC fan base and that was a specific mission that I created with Dana White. Without Dana’s support this all wouldn't be here. Dana gave us the green light to build boxing on UFC Fight Pass. We've had the highest rating of any boxing shows on UFC Fight Pass so the formula’s working.

We had sellout crowds. And with Dana's support, we were able to do a lot of cross-promotion, having Callum at UFC events, having him in front of the UFC media, which is huge. We brought him to the fan experience and he was signing more autographs and [posing for] more photos than when he's at a boxing match. His recognition is definitely rising. Then to add on top of that we brought him to Monday Night Raw to WWE. His very first WWE show was my first show also and the show was amazing. Having Callum being introduced to the WWE fans on camera was just a tremendous highlight. So we're excited about that. 

My mantra has always been cross-promoting with Triple G. We had so many Mexican fans for a Kazakh fighter named Triple G. It was amazing. He would sell out shows in Southern California, break records in Southern California, and the majority of the fans were Mexican boxing fans. I've been a strong believer of promoting to as many people as possible, cross-promoting, not just to the boxing fans, but every demographic of boxing fan, and now to UFC fans and WWE fans. I think this is just scratching the surface of what Callum Walsh can accomplish both in the ring and outside the ring.