Back in February, when Worldwide Entertainment Sports purchased
houseofboxing.com for $1.1 million, Worldwide CEO Marc Roberts
asked the struggling Web site's founders, Doug Fischer and Gary
Randall, what they wanted to spend money on first. "Let's hire
Michael Katz," Fischer said without hesitation. Four weeks later
Katz, a former New York Daily News columnist and the dean of
boxing writers, signed on. "We're starting to get resources,"
says Randall. "It's nice to know we have a future."
The hiring of Katz brought instant credibility to a site that
offers solid reporting and an impressive array of video clips. A
good example of the Web site's range: In anticipation of the
recent Sugar Shane Mosley-Oscar De La Hoya fight (above),
Randall produced a flashy wide-screen seven-minute documentary
on Mosley, while Fischer offered a true insider's take on the
upcoming bout by writing up a series of interviews with
small-time L.A. fighters who had fought or sparred with both De
La Hoya and Mosley. The site also has profiles of more than 30
top boxers, an archive of 33 original video interviews and
writers like Katz and Thomas Hauser, author of a highly regarded
biography of Muhammed Ali, ringside at every major fight. It is
building its following with solid analysis and provocative
opinions; In an era when the Web is the best source for boxing
information, houseofboxing.com is becoming, says promoter Dan
Goosen, "the place to go for the inside scoop."
The two founders hooked up in 1996, after sparring with each
other at LA Boxing Gym. Randall, 28, a high school dropout, was a
graphic designer, while Fischer, 30, was teaching journalism at a
junior college. Randall mentioned that he needed someone to write
words to go with the downloadable boxing video clips he was
posting on his Web site. Fischer liked the idea, and the two
agreed to create houseofboxing.com, with the modest goal of
covering Southern California boxing. "No one wanted to credential
us at first," says Fischer. "So we had to bring our laptops
around and show people what we were doing."
Today, they have the resources to cover the entire world of
boxing. Randall envisions a future with more elaborate
documentaries and streaming video from boxers' camps. "Our goal
has always been instant gratification for our fans," he says.
"The Internet and television are close to a marriage, and we'd
like to be there when it happens."
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONO
Baseball on WTBS and Fox Sports New York
Ratings for John Rocker's return to Shea last Thursday were 20.4
on WTBS in Atlanta, 5.1 on FSNY, nearly double the average for
Braves (12.1) and Mets (2.3) broadcasts last season.
MLS on ESPN2
The average rating is 0.24, down from 0.27 last year. The
numbers have fallen steadily from the 0.35 average in the
inaugural season of '96.
It has all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a Web site,
but houseofboxing also has the goods.