Jay Larkin has been the President and COO of the International Fight League for only a month but he certainly is no rookie when it comes to the fight game. Larkin spent over 20 years at Showtime starting off as a junior publicist and ending as an executive producer. While at Showtime, he helped negotiate some of the biggest fights of the last quarter-century. His foray into the televised boxing world began in 1986 with Marvelous Marvin Hagler’s Middleweight title defense against John Mugabi and ended with Jeff Lacy’s Super Middleweight title defense against Scott Pemberton two years ago. Somewhere in between, he helped broker deals that would see legends such as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Julio Cesar Chavez fight on Showtime. One of his greatest challenges (and one he succesfully overcame) was figuring out how Mike Tyson, a Showtime-exclusive fighter, would challenge Lennox Lewis, an HBO-exclusive fighter, for his Heavyweight title while satisfying both networks equally. Obviously, many people were responsible for putting that fight together but without Larkin the deal would have never materialized.
Five years later, he is faced with an even greater challenger. His task is to teach America that there is more to MMA than the UFC. For all intents and purposes, his mission begins this Saturday night in Chicago at the semifinals of the IFL Grand Prix. Saturday’s card marks the first-ever live IFL telecast on MyNetwork TV and with no deal in place for 2008 (yet) the league will hope enough viewers tune in to justify a new deal between the two parties. Strangely enough, though, Larkin won’t be at the Sears Centre in Chicago come Saturday. Instead, he will be in Cardiff, Wales overseeing HBO’s telecast of the Calzaghe-Kessler fight.
Confused? So, was I. Below you’ll find some answers in a fascinating interview with the man in charge of taking the IFL to the proverbial next level. Some of the topics Larkin will discuss are:
- Why he will be in Wales instead of Chicago on Saturday?
- Is he fully commited to the IFL or will he still work on boxing telecasts?
- The future of the IFL on MNTV
- Will the IFL try to take the spot the UFC was thought to have secured on HBO?
- Is the IFL looking to hold their fights in a cage instead of a ring?
- The future of Kurt Angle, Ben Rothwell and Mike Whitehead in the IFL
- Dana White’s not-so-flattering comments on his foray into the MMA world