Washington has a new boxing promoter who thinks he can prosper where others have failed.
He is James L. Denson, president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, who has engaged as matchmaker Sam Solomon, who trained Leon Spinks, the former Olympic and professional heavyweight champion.
Denson and Solomon are cooperating with an influential women's organization, Network Plus, in putting on their first show May 23 at the D.C. Armory.
Effi Barry, the city's first alady, said yesterday at a news conference at the National Press Club, "We know this is going to be successful, with total community involvement."
The principals in the eight-round middleweight event, Bennie Briscoe of Philadelphia and Nick Ortiz of Puerto Rico, already were in a bellicose mood at the signing ceremony before members of the D.C. Boxing Commission.
Briscoe, a grim-visaged veteran of 83 bouts, was first to approach the head table. After sizing him up, Ortiz said, from behind: "Breesco?"
As if it were a silly question, Briscoe said, "Yeah?"
Ortiz extended his hand to shake, but Briscoe ignored it and turned away, Ortiz jutted out his chin defiantly. One of the Network Plus women called attention to the antisocial episode, as if it could be the start of something big in developing appeal for fight fans.
Ortiz has won 25 of 30 bouts against lesser competition. Briscoe has won 60 and lost 17. Briscoe boasts draws against former champions Emile Griffith and Carlos Monzon and a knockout of onetime contender Georgie Benton, who now trains him.
Some of the profits from this show in the 10,000-seat Armory are earmarked by Network Plus for athletic programs in D.C. public schools.
Promoter Denson is looking beyond that sort of ticket-selling. He said he is going to make the sport succeed here "by developing shows that will atract media attention. We're going to develop the industry of boxing and the state of art.
"Derrick Holmes (District featherweight undefeated in seven bouts) against Felix Rodriguez of Puerto Rico (3-3) may turn out to be as exciting as the main bout. I intend to use Holmes as much as possible on future shows. We are not going across the country to try to make bouts. We've got the good boxers right here."