Interview: WCF Promoter Joe Cavallaro
By Submitted by MMAONLINE.com
Enterprising Boston-based MMA promoter Joe Cavallero talks about how his World Championship Fighting shows are evolving, expansion plans, hanging out with Marvelous Marvin Hagler, and the good ol’ days in Boston working with Dana White as a doorman…
MMAOnline.com: How did you get into the sport of MMA?
Joe Cavallaro: “I started karate when I was a kid, around eight. I’ve been involved in boxing for years. Me and Dana White are good friends. I’ve been friends with Dana forever. When he got involved in UFC he said, This is something you should see. I had a buddy Greg Vining, he used to get videos of fights from Brazil and we’d watch them. I started to gain an interest and understanding and appreciation. But when Dana got involved is when I really started to get involved.”
MMAOnline.com: What is your first memory of MMA?
Joe Cavallaro: “Again, going over my friend’s house and to see fights from Brazil with no gloves, no time limit. I didnt understand it, or the ground fighting. It took a while to get the appreciation of it, to know what they were trying to do. I really like the way Joe Rogan does such a good job of explaining it.”
MMAOnline.com: How far back do you go with Dana?
Joe Cavallaro: “He moved to Boston after high school. We worked together at the Boston Harbor Hotel, worked the door together about 20 years ago. We struck up a common interest in boxing, became good friends. We’d go to Las Vegas for a lot of the big fights.”
MMAOnline.com: Did you guys ever see Brockton resident Marvelous Marvin Hagler at the hotel?
Joe Cavallaro: “Marvin Hagler used to come in all the time. It was a five-star hotel. Around here he’s a legend. And a super nice guy. Do you remember the Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor fight? We went to a bar in nearby Revere to watch that fight, and I was eating with a buddy at the bar and right before the fight is about to start, we see a guy walk in wearing a long black leather jacket, with black gloves and a black scally hat. It was Marvin Hagler. He came in and we watched the fight with him. It was so cool to listen to his opinions and comments during the fight. Marvin was a beast. One of the great middleweight champions. A lot of famous people came and stayed at the hotel – Al Pacino, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan – but only two people did I go up to and say I was a big fan – Marvin Hagler and Evil Knievel [laughs].”
MMAOnline.com: What’s next for your World Championship Fighting events?
Joe Cavallaro: “Our next show is on June 20 at Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, MA. I really like the venue we’re in. It’s ten minutes from north Boston on 93 North. We’re working on some ideas. We need to keep the people interested to keep coming to see our shows. We want to do shows every three months and build a brand, where people get used to coming and see your fights. I’m not looking to be the biggest show. Remember Tuesday Night Fights (on USA cable network)? I’m looking to build a brand like that, putting together exciting shows, building interest on the local level where guys fight and move on to bigger shows. People want to see what happens next with Dany Lauzon. He’s such a good fighter. He’s so young. They know he’s on his way back to the UFC. Two guys from our first show went to Showtime. Nate LaMotte just got a shot with the IFL based on his last performance with WCF where he won by a choke in the first round.”
MMAOnline.com: What has been the top highlight moment so far for you and WCF?
Joe Cavallaro: “There’s been a lot. It’s funny. As far as fights, I think the Bobby McMaster-Bobby Diaz fight on our first card on September 21, last year. They fought – it was a draw after two rounds. They fought the extra third round and McMaster caught him with a right and knocked him out. It was just incredible, people were freaking out. We started this with nothing. It’s a lot of work. We go through all that effort to produce a show, and they gave us more than we could have asked. They both gave everything they had. People were leaving, saying, I can’t wait to come back! It really worked out. There’s been some great fights but that one was incredible.”
MMAOnline.com: How were you able to improve the overall quality of production from the first show to the second?
Joe Cavallaro: “The production of it ran a lot better. The first one was a lot of work, I tried to do everything on my own. The second show came and I brought in some new people to help, like Sal Carrillo. The first show drew 2,200 and the second 3,700 – doubled, which was great. I spent a lot of money on advertising. Shriner’s Auditorium is known for the circus and rodeo. For them to take a chance on us, to see if it could succeed, to see if it attracted a safe crowd – they gave us a chance and it went really well. I think having Dana there for the second show helped a lot. People recognize who he is. It gives you, I don’t want to say necessarily credibility, but it gives you recognizability. When they see Dana, Kenny (Florian), Marcus (Davis), they recognize what it is and they want to go. People know who Chuck Liddell is. Our job is: How do we get the guys who don’t typically go to fights who know who Chuck Liddell is, who go to see the NHL, NBA, NFL, how do we get them to transfer over? Because once they see it live, they enjoy themselves. Having Tapout filming an episode for Versus was really nice too. They’ll also be coming back to film an episode for Versus at our next show too.”
MMAOnline.com: What did Dana have to say about being there live at WCF?
Joe Cavallaro: “He liked it. I was with him in Columbus. He enjoyed the show. He was impressed with the amount of people we got – 3,700. Capacity. Dana’s a good guy. He shook hands and took pictures with absolutely everyone who was there. To do it for one hour is something, to do it for three-and-a-half hours straight – he doesn’t need to do that. He’s just a good guy.”
MMAOnline.com: Do you have any closing comments?
Joe Cavallaro: “Our next show is June 20 at Shriner’s in Wilmington. We’re gonna pull out some surprises. We’re looking to expand to different venues. We have a venue in Philadelphia, an exclusive agreement, for at least six dates a year. We’re just waiting for the boxing commission. They’ve already agreed to do it. We’re just waiting for the okay. Now they’re finalizing the rules and how they’re going to sanction it. We’re excited, Philly’s a great fight town. We’d also like to do shows in New York when they let MMA in. Eventually we hope to get enough shows to do a TV deal. We’re not trying to position WCF as number one, or as a competitor with UFC, we want to work with them.”