Lane brothers making own mark on boxing
RENO – Boxing was a fabric of life for the Lane brothers, Terry and Tommy. Terry has vivid memories of watching big-time fights as a young boy, such as the second edition of the Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield trilogy. Tommy even saw some fights at the timekeeper’s table.
It’s easy enjoying a sport like boxing when your father is Mills Lane, the most recognizable boxing referee in the sports history. Known for his trademark phrase, “Let’s get it on,” to kick off the nearly 100 championship bouts he officiated, the Hall of Fame ref and judge transcended boxing by becoming a no-nonsense TV judge and caricature in MTV’s “Celebrity Deathmatch.”
But when the elder Lane was hit with a debilitating stroke in 2002, it was his two sons that would pick up where their father left off. Terry and Tommy Lane took over their dad’s fledgling boxing promoter business, Let’s Get It On Promotions, in 2005. Now, with a title shot on the line for their highest-rated boxer, Jesse Brinkley, on Friday they appear to have finally carved out their own names in the business.
“We thought it was going to be a smaller operation, but in respect to my dad we felt it was a big undertaking simply because we wanted to do my dad’s name and his reputation right,” Terry Lane said. “We were always, and have always been and will always be, mindful of how we are representing his reputation in the boxing business so we are very careful and we take that to heart.
“In that sense, it was a big undertaking, but like I said before we kind of expected to have a smaller operation and now it’s turned into a full-time job that we’re very happy with.”‘
Brinkley (34-5, 22 KOs) will face Curtis Stevens (21-2, 15 KOs) at 7 p.m. at the Grand Sierra Resort for the mandatory International Boxing Federation No. 2 ranking and the chance to face Lucian Bute for the super middleweight title in the next eight months. The fight, billed as Reno Xtreme Fights II, is the first Let’s Get It On promoted bout to be aired to a national audience (ESPN2) and is the first in what the Lanes hope will be many high-profile fights under their flag.
“I wanted to be promoting mega fights from the first day,” Tommy Lane said. “But as you know, it came along, we went through some bumps, we went through some growing pains with different partners, but starting with our Dec. 11 fight this is our first fight that it’s Terry and I kind of calling the shots and were able to use our own creativity. This is our ultimate coming out party and I think these are the best two that we’ve done so far.”
Not too bad of a start for a pair of guys who are just barely out of college. When the brothers began putting the promotional company back together, which was originally started in 2000 by the elder Lane, Terry was fresh out of college and Tommy had just started college himself.
Now that Terry, 26, and Tommy, 23, have a little experience under their belts some believe that they have a bright future in front of them.
“They’re moving up the pike,” said Joe DeGuardia, president and CEO of Star Boxing who is co-promoting Friday’s fight. “They’ve got good stock with their father, the history of boxing. And I think they’re both reputable, which is key and they’re young and I think in this business is a business of futures and they look like they’re going to have a good future in this business.”
DeGuardia was also recently named president of the Boxing Promoters Association.
The Lanes have built their success off the premise that a smaller, more intimate promotional company will set their fighters up with the best chance to succeed. Their first signings were the Hinkey brothers, Derek and Tyler who are McDermitt natives. Shortly after they inked Brinkley, who was already an established name coming off his success on NBC’s “The Contender.” Most recently, they signed super middleweight Brandon Gonzales (9-0, 8 KOs), who made his Reno debut during Reno Xtreme Fights I in December, after a highly decorated amateur career.
The Lanes are also working on signing Karim Mayfield (11-0-1, 7 KOs), the 11th-ranked welterweight in the country.
“It all comes back to the way we’ve moved and treated Jesse,” Terry Lane said. “I think a lot of fighters look at a Golden Boy or Top Rank or a Goosen and those guys have a million fighters. No matter how long we’re in the business I don’t think we’re ever going to be in a position to sign just a million guys. We’re kind taking a ‘Jerry Maguire’ approach in which we want personal relationship with our fighters. We want a small stable, but a very lean stable of top talent …”
“They’ve been wonderful to work with,” Brinkley said. “They’ve been very professional and they’ve learned as they’ve gone and they turned out to be a wonderful decision that I made to go with them. They’re working as hard as they can, I’m working as hard as I can so we’ve been a wonderful team.”
If Brinkley were to get past Stevens, who is favored 2-1 over the hometown boxer, he would get a title shot and a live pay-per-view opportunity, which in the business of boxing means big money. Let’s Get It On also has plans with the Grand Sierra Resort, which has been host to the first two Reno Xtreme Fights, to continue the series in monthly installments. The next fight will come March 20.
The Lanes also are hopeful that they can acquire a deal to put Gonzales on ESPN before the end of the year, garnering him more exposure and elevating his status.
They also are working on an anniversary celebration/fight in honor of the Jack Johnson-Jim Jeffries bout that took place in Downtown Reno in 1910. Johnson beat Jeffries in the bout that was touted “The Fight of the Century,” and became the first black heavyweight champion.
In a collaboration with Top Rank, they are expecting the bouts to be broadcast on TV.
“At the moment we’re kind of starting to get commitments from people who are going to come join us,” Terry Lane said. “I can’t say until someone fully commits, but were really close to getting some big, big former champions to come out to Reno and help celebrate that day.
“Personally, to me, that means a lot to me. Being around the boxing community and living in Reno my whole life, everybody’s been waiting for the 100th anniversary of this fight. This is the signature historical event that’s ever happened in Reno and to be a part of the 100th year celebration is like an honor.”
Mills Lane will be watching his boys carry on his legacy from the comfort of his own home Friday. He hasn’t made a public appearance in a year since having Reno courthouse named in his honor in Jan. 2009. The stroke has left him virtually unable to speak, but the younger Lanes said they know he is proud of what they have done so far.
But it will be the next couple of years that will define the success of Let’s Get It On Promotions and the future can take a giant leap Friday.
“I definitely see ourselves with multiple world champions and we’ll be promoting mega fights,” Tommy Lane said. “I can just smell it.”