Jay Z’s sports agency, Roc Nation Sports, has obtained licenses to promote boxing events in New York and Washington, D.C., according to a report from ESPN.com. The agency, which already handles high-profile athletes such as Kevin Durant and Geno Smith, has yet to add any professional boxers to its roster. However, ESPN reports that Roc Nation Sports has hired longtime boxing executive David Itskowitch to serve as the chief operating officer of its new division.
Michael Yormark, the president and chief of branding and strategy for parent company Roc Nation, conveyed the company’s commitment to its new venture in the report.
“There’s no question the sport of boxing needs a new player, someone who can do something different,” Yormark told ESPN. “We’re energized, and we’re going to make a difference. This is a huge priority to us. This is a highly serious business to us.”
With the exorbitant amount of money big name fights can rake in, its no surprise a new face is attempting to get its hand in the pot. By linking up with Itskowitch, former COO of Golden Boy Promotions, Yormark believes Roc Nation has taken its first step towards success.
“This is a serious business for us moving forward, and Dave has one of the great reputations in the boxing industry,” Yormark said. “Hiring him should be a loud and clear statement this is serious for us and that we will do this the right way. We have one of the most respected individuals in the sport leading the charge for us.”
With the announcement, look for things to start moving quickly. There are already plans for an event before the end of 2014, but the participants are yet to be announced.
“We’re going to promote our first event by the end of the year, and we’re currently strategizing on which fighters we will seek to sign,” Itskowitch said.
Itskowitch believes that one of the biggest contributing factors to Roc Nation Sports’ success within the boxing scene will come from its ability to collaborate with any promoter, manager, or television network -- something that has held up potential blockbuster fights in the past. There will also be emphasis placed on making the sport appealing to the younger generation, an audience that has seemed to place its interest in other combat sports such as mixed martial arts.
“We’re starting with a clean slate,” Itskowitch told ESPN. “One of boxing’s biggest problems is that the audience is getting older, but we have an infrastructure that can reach younger fans. We believe that is something we can do based on what we already have in place.”
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