After months of speculation and widespread rumor, 2008 US Olypmic boxing team light flyweight Luis Yanez has decided to turn pro.
The announcement was made Tuesday morning at a press conference held at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas, Texas.
“Man, it’s a big day for me,” Yanez would tell the Queensberry Rules. “It’s a moment that I have been waiting for. I finally turned pro, since 14 years-old I’ve been begging my coach [Dennis Rodarte] to turn pro but he said I had a good chance to go to the Olympics and hey, I did.”
You may recall the ongoing drama that circulated around Yanez and the 08 US Olympic team. Public clashes with head coach Dan Campbell and USA Boxing over training and the reinstatment of mandated residency program at the team’s Colorado Springs, CO training compound led to Yanez being dismissed from the team. Eventually a compromise was reached that enabled Yanez to return to the team.
“It was a great experience,” Yanez would explain of his travels to Beijing. “You know, a lot of things happened that I didn’t want to happen but it’s time to move forward.”
Yanez will be promoted by the Mendelson Entertainment Group. Never heard of them? Well that is because they are a newly created company out of Dallas. Headed by Barry Mendelson, a man who has worn many hats in his career including work with Madison Square Gardens boxing promotions, being the Executive Producer of the Ice Capades (I’m not kidding). In addition to those two gigs, Mendelson has been the GM for the New Orleans Jazz of the NBA and color commentator for the New York Giants radio broadcasts. Most sports fans would remember Mendelson’s name as co-producer of the Beyond the Glory documentaries that aired on the Fox Sports Net cable channel.
While Mendelson’s resume is impressive in its diversity, the main question many of us here in the DFW have is, can he promote a fighter in today’s boxing landscape. Mendelson assured me that his wealth of knowledge in event promotions coupled and media production will be the key in building Yanez as an attraction.
But that in itself will be a difficult endeavor as Yanez will be campaigning in the 116-118 pound bantamweight division. Historically, fighters of that weight class fight almost exclusively in Asia or Latin America. Here in the states bigger is better and for a fighter as small as Yanez, gaining mainstream appeal will be difficult. Mendelson is adament that Yanez can capture mainstream attention but admits that in order to capitalize finacially they are going to have to make him a ticket seller. Mendelson’s plan is to have Yanez fight exlusively in Dallas.
“I’m not really interested in putting him out there beyond Dallas,” Mendelson explains. “We could never get him a fight becuase he is a lighter weight. So the only way we could get him what he deserves is to make him a headliner and put him right here.”
If Yanez is anything it is a local celebrity. He is a local media darling which is impressive when you consider that our sports scene is dominated by non-stop Dallas Cowboy coverage. It’s hard not to like the charismatic young Yanez. He carries himself with a type of flair and self-confidence that really resonates with fans. It will be interesting to see just how far Yanez can go in the paid ranks.
Yanez is scheduled to fight on a six bout card promoted by the Mendelson Entertainment Group on February 20th at the Ameican Airlines Center. The details of the fight card have not been released but you can expect local prospect and Yanez’ best friend Hector Beltran to be on the card. Fox Sports Net Southwest is on tap to broadcast the card regionally and Yanez’ debut is said to be one of the televised fights.
But there is a wrinkle to be reported. The Mendelson Entertainment Group does not yet have their promoters license. In order for them to even announce the fight card they had to “rent” a local promoter’s license. While it is not difficult to obtain a promoters license here in Texas, there is an MMA show also scheduled for Feb. 20. Texas Boxing Administrator Dick Cole will not allow more than two events to be scheduled on the same day. This means that MEG had better secure their license or risk their card being canceled if another licensed promoter opts to secure that date. Given that they have ample time to secure a license many feel that there is little cause for concern but this being boxing, you simply never can be sure.