8CN Q&A With Matt McGovern, president and CEO of World Fighting Championships



8CN's David Hopper caught up with young promoter Matt McGovern, president and CEO of World Fighting Championships. The 30-year-old partners with casinos throughout the country to develop boxing and mixed martial arts fight series. McGovern's next event is WFC 35 at the Belle of Baton Rouge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Feb. 28.

8CN: Give the readers an introduction and tell them a little about yourself and your company.

MM: My name is Matt McGovern. I'm the CEO and owner of World Fighting Championships (WFC), a boxing, mma and muy thai promotion. We promote fights all over the country and we're in eight different casinos. We're shifting most of our focus toward the spot of boxing, that's where we see the most potential for a promotion like us. We've had a lot of success and we're probably the fastest growing promotion in the country. We've been pretty successful and pretty fortunate and we've got a lot of momentum going for us.

8CN: Talk about why you see more potential in boxing. It seems, particularly among people who don't follow the sport, there's a notion that it's a dying sport and is being overtaken by mixed martial arts.

MM: From a business standpoint, from the way it's structured, and trying to be one of the base promotions there's a little bit more potential in boxing. For instance, in small television for mma like Access TV and CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports, they don't pay anything for television viewing rights for promotions that they work with. They just pay for production at best and some of them don't even pay for production of the video. A lot of MMA productions have set the standards low from a business standpoint just to get on television. In boxing, it's a little bit different, to get a small television deal like UniMas or Fox Sports 1 or ESPN2, they're paying at least $30,000 for television rights, plus they're paying for all the production. Most of the time the viewership is a little bit higher so you can sell even more sponsorships. For a small to mid-level promotion, the potential is bigger. The amount of fighters in boxing and the amount of fighters in mma in the U.S., I would say mma has outgrown boxing so there's going to be challenges finding fighters in general and continuing to build the sport. A lot of guys who might have gone to boxing in the past have gone to mma. From a business standpoint, I think it may work better. Boxing at its best is better than mma at its best to me as a fan.

8CN: You've promoted a number of cards in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Deep South isn't known as a boxing hotbed. Do you feel like the Deep South has a good market for boxing?

MM: I love it. I think it's a really good market for boxing. It's kind of untapped. Louisiana and Mississippi boxers have a bad reputation in the fight industries of talent. I don't see it as any different. It's a special event for these fight fans. In Vegas it's not something that's special to those people, 90 percent of them have been to a fight before in Vegas and it's just like another event to get experience for their fighters. There's not a lot of momentum that you can create or build. You're smaller fight cards aren't really paid attention to. They don't care how they do they just want to put some wins into their prospects. It's either super super special or it just goes through the motions. The thing with the South is that people really wait and anticipate and get excited about our events.

8CN: When many think of boxing promoters they think Oscar De La Hoya, Bob Arum, Golden Boy and Top Rank. Talk about the role of the smaller companies in the boxing landscape. What do you feel your company and other small companies add to boxing?

MM: I think social media is a huge, huge deal for my promotion. If Facebook and Instagram shut down tomorrow I'd have a very hard time finding fighters. I watch a lot of videos of fighters on YouTube. That's pretty much what we do; we don't rely on traditional marketing. It's all PR, interviews, and social media, and that's what drives our traffic and that's what we're good at. For us being a small promotion but with a decent amount of fights we're building up these guys' fight records they could potentially get signed by a bigger promotion that would take over a contract. We'll change our focus and sign everybody at some point and build these guys up. I have to see the other side first before I do that because it gets expensive building guys up. I'm really good at selling fights to casinos so I've worked with Top Rank on some deals. I've also worked with Star Boxing and Tyson's promotion company. We've worked with everybody on the opportunity to do deals. It seems like everybody is pretty open to it. We bring a little bit more of a professional approach and a business approach to everything. I think that sets us apart and it sets us apart with the casinos. We'll see. That's our role: building up guys for the next level and working on small casino deals.



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