It's not as though Jim Denson doesn't have enough to do.A lawyer with a master's degree in business, he is president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the city's elections board and president of a firm that handles everything from public relations and promotions to management planning.
So what's he doing promoting a boxing card in his spare time, one that has the usual share of aggravations and setbacks that accompany getting a world championship match off the ground?
"It's a challenge," he said. "Professional boxing in this city has diminished to the point where there is not much enthusiasm for the sport. And, I think, for the city, it's a move away from total dependence on federal payments. I was exploring ways we could generate more revenue for the city."
Saturday, Denson will find out if that challenge pays off. At 2 p.m. at the D.C. Armory, Denson will present a four-bout card that includes a World Boxing Association lightweight championship fight between title-holder Ernesto Espana and No. 7-ranked Leonidas Asprilla.
In the heavyweight bracket, former Dallas Cowboy Ed (Too Tall) Jones, whose fight in Tucson was canceled last night for lack of ticket sales, is also on the bill. His East Coast debut here was to be against Miamian Lou Esa, but Esa reported was injured yesterday and will be replaced by Fernando Montes, billed as former heavy-weight champion of Mexico.
Other bouts on the card feature New Carrollton's Derrik Holmes against Leo Cruz and Washington's Johnny Gant against Jose Palacious.
In his search to land a championship fight for the city, Denson originally lined up a WBA welterweight title fight between Pepino Cuevas and challenger Angel Espada. But Cuevas was reported injured.
Then, turning to the lightweights, Espana was scheduled to fight 10th-ranked Sean O'Grady, but O'Grady was injured and the match with Asprilla was set.
Besides the time, Denson 46, has also spent, by his estimate, "more than $100,000" on the tournament, "which he said will cost about $250,000 overall, including $175,000 in purses. Six investors, whom he declined to name, have joined in the venture.
Denson estimated that if all 14,000 seats are sold -- and yesterday only about 3,000 had been -- the city would receive $50,000 and he and his fellow investors would make a modest profit.
The prices of the tickets -- ranging from $10 to $60 for a ringside seat -- may seem steep, Denson said, but are less than prices for most championship fights.
"We have not had class boxing in this city for a number of years and we haven't had a championship in 25 years," Denson said. "So the attitude (of fans) has to be cultivated or changed.
"Once they see top-rated boxers in this city, it won't be difficult to sell out the armory. The market has to be developed again and I'm optimistic enough to think it can be."
Another problem may be the sport's overexposure on television in the 1950s, he said.
So local promoters cannot compete with the money television offers to off-set losses at the gate.
Denson figures he will need an attendance of at least 7,000 to break even Saturday. The fight is not on television and all income will come from the gate. But should he lose, he said, "Everybody will be paid. I will have suffered a loss and I will have to look at other business ventures to recoup."