ESPN to broadcast annual Fallon Fights on Aug. 8
June 5, 2014
For many, seven is the luckiest number.
And for the Fallon Fights, seven rings truest as the annual boxing exhibition is headed to the national spotlight.
In its seventh year, the Fallon Fights (or Rural Rumble) will make its nation-wide debut as part of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" series on Aug. 8.
The boxing event was created by the city of Fallon, who partnered with promoters Terry and Tommy Lane of Dynasty Boxing and Let's Get It On Promotions the past seven years, has longed for a national audience.
Rick Gray, executive director of the Fallon Convention and Tourism Authority, said his and the Lanes' mission has been to bring ESPN to Nevada's oasis.
"That's been a mission to get our fights televised by ESPN," Gray said, "and for our fights to be of that caliber to interest a network like ESPN. The challenge has been creating a card that attracts a wide enough demographic that fills the arena and is infused with quality."
The challenge, though, was to create a good enough card for a major network to carry. This year, with the addition of DiBella Entertainment, the deal is in place, although the card is not, which is commonplace in boxing.
The biggest holdup, though, came from ESPN, according to Tommy Lane. One of the individuals (who's name was not disclosed) did not like the idea of an outdoor event.
But a change with "Friday Night Fights" opened the door and Lane and DiBella Entertainment set up the deal.
"There was a shakeup at ESPN last year and the guy who ran boxing was no longer there," Lane said. "He did not like to do fights outdoors. The new guy who came in has been a little more flexible. That is what, basically, made this possible."
DiBella Entertainment is promoting Saturday's WBC middleweight title fight between Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The Fallon Fights was initially scheduled for Aug. 23, but when the TV deal came through, the fights were moved to Aug. 8.
"It's exciting," Lane said. "It's a step in the right direction. Fallon has been so supportive of us over the years."
The deal, however, came by way of the Lanes negotiated with DiBella Entertainment and suggested the Rural Rumble.
"Dynasty Boxing has an agreement with DiBella Entertainment to promote and televise the fights," Gray added.
The changes this year, though, will be the elimination of the mixed-martial arts undercard and a full slate of boxing. The boxing card, however, is setting up to bring in a big-time bout.
The main event will be 10-rounds, preceded by a semi-main event of 8-10 rounds and five additional bouts.
Gray said it is unlikely a title fight will take place at the Fallon Fights but expects a middleweight contender with "name recognition" in the fold.
Another obstacle for Gray and the city, though, is the configuration of the Churchill County Fairgrounds arena.
In years past, the ring was near the main grandstands with ringside VIP tables across from general admission and ringside seating on the opposite sides of the ring.
Due to more lighting and at least six TV cameras, Gray said the VIP tables may be readjusted to better views and the ringside seating may be scaled back.
"We are going to have to do a lot of construction," he added. "In the past we've had light plants … so we are going to have to pick that up quite a bit."
Ticket prices, meanwhile, have not been released, although Gray said he does not intend to significantly increase the cost. Last year, general admission was $15, $25 for ringside seats and $500 for a VIP table.
This year, though, he said if an increase happens, general admission may cost $20.
"We'll have to see the configuration and price around (that)," Gray said. "It has always been extremely affordable."
In addition to the better caliber of boxing, Gray said the event provides Fallon with an opportunity for national advertising. Similar to universities running TV spots during college football games, Gray said he is working on one national commercial and several regional spots.
"Ours will showcase Fallon in a real good light," he explained. "This will be an opportunity to have a spot about Fallon, at least one nationally. The inventory is pretty expensive. But we will also buy inventory around the local cable networks and the spots will run regionally."
The Fallon Fights was the first event to hold both boxing and mixed-martial arts bouts in Northern Nevada, Gray said.
Yet another challenge, though, has been the decline in boxing's popularity and the rise of MMA. The amateur MMA bouts in previous events was a way to offset the cost of hosting the Rural Rumble, Gray added.
"It's been an interesting mix and journey over the years," he said. "As we prepare this year and for ESPN, the card will strictly be boxing. We are anticipating a pretty significant middleweight fight."