Back in February, when Worldwide Entertainment Sports purchased houseofboxing.com for $1.1 million, Worldwide CEO Marc Roberts asked the struggling Web site's founders, Doug Fischer and Gary Randall, what they wanted to spend money on first. "Let's hire Michael Katz," Fischer said without hesitation. Four weeks later Katz, a former New York Daily News columnist and the dean of boxing writers, signed on. "We're starting to get resources," says Randall. "It's nice to know we have a future."
The hiring of Katz brought instant credibility to a site that offers solid reporting and an impressive array of video clips. A good example of the Web site's range: In anticipation of the recent Sugar Shane Mosley- Oscar De La Hoya fight (above), Randall produced a flashy wide-screen seven-minute documentary on Mosley, while Fischer offered a true insider's take on the upcoming bout by writing up a series of interviews with small-time L.A. fighters who had fought or sparred with both De La Hoya and Mosley. The site also has profiles of more than 30 top boxers, an archive of 33 original video interviews and writers like Katz and Thomas Hauser, author of a highly regarded biography of Muhammed Ali, ringside at every major fight. It is building its following with solid analysis and provocative opinions; In an era when the Web is the best source for boxing information, houseofboxing.com is becoming, says promoter Dan Goosen, "the place to go for the inside scoop."
The two founders hooked up in 1996, after sparring with each other at LA Boxing Gym. Randall, 28, a high school dropout, was a graphic designer, while Fischer, 30, was teaching journalism at a junior college. Randall mentioned that he needed someone to write words to go with the downloadable boxing video clips he was posting on his Web site. Fischer liked the idea, and the two agreed to create houseofboxing.com, with the modest goal of covering Southern California boxing. "No one wanted to credential us at first," says Fischer. "So we had to bring our laptops around and show people what we were doing."
Today, they have the resources to cover the entire world of boxing. Randall envisions a future with more elaborate documentaries and streaming video from boxers' camps. "Our goal has always been instant gratification for our fans," he says. "The Internet and television are close to a marriage, and we'd like to be there when it happens."