Exclusive: CES Promoter Jimmy Burchfield Jr.
Joseph Bruen: Tell us about your childhood growing up and what it was like being the kid of a legendary boxing promoter.
Jimmy Burchfield Jr.: I’m a lucky guy. I have been around the sport for as long as I can remember. At the age of 8, my father enrolled me in a boxing program run by Harold “Chubby” Gomes. I was the youngest guy in the group, sparring with guys 3-4 years my age. Also, because of Jim Sr’s prominence in the Boxing community, I have some wonderful memories. When Muhammad Ali came to Providence to put on an exhibition at what was then the Providence Civic Center, I got to drive The Greatest around for the day. When Joe Frazier came into town to discuss his son fighting Vinny Paz, I sat in on the meeting and had dinner with the Champ. I was a member of Sugar Ray Leonard’s entourage at his early fights; walking him to the ring, watching the action from his corner. I became great friend’s with Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, attending his wedding in Youngstown, OH. Some of the most rewarding experiences have been the lifelong friendships I have developed with the likes of Vinny Paz, Peter Manfredo Jr, Gary Balletto, Ray Oliveira, Matt Godfrey, Rich Gingrass, Jason Estrada, Jason Pires, Scott Pemberton and so many others.
Joseph Bruen: What made you finally decide to get involved in the world of promoting?
Jimmy Burchfield Jr.: I have been involved with CES in some shape or form since its’ inception. I started as the event coordinator. Upon becoming a lawyer, I transitioned into other areas of the business such as negotiations and legal work. With popularity of MMA, we recognized the importance of opening an MMA division. It was at this time that Jim Sr and I realized we needed each run a CES division in order to do it right. Based on our experience in Boxing and the resources Jim Sr has, CES MMA hit the ground running soon establishing itself as one of the top promotional companies in the US.
Joseph Bruen: Were you a fan of MMA growing up? UFC really started to become widely known in 1994 with Severn, Shamrock, Gracie, etc.. Were you hooked right from the get go?
Jimmy Burchfield Jr.: I grew up as a boxing fan. Knew very little about MMA until 1994, when a friend went to train with the Gracies and told me about the sport. It was around this time that we became intrigued and approached the State of Rhode Island to discuss the possibility of getting the sport licensed. The door was quickly closed in our face. Back then it was considered barbaric - there were no rules or weight classes. I continued to monitor the sport. When our good friend Marc Ratner was hired by the UFC, I was confident he would instill the necessary safeguards to satisfy the most, if not all, athletic commissions.
Joseph Bruen: What other hobbies outside of combat sports interest you?
Jimmy Burchfield Jr.: I really enjoy cooking – as you know Whole Foods is one of my favorite places to shop. I actively work out and try to hike as often as possible
Joseph Bruen: CES has become the largest combat sports organization in New England. Tell us how it all started from the first ideas to the birth of the promotion to where it is now.
Jimmy Burchfield Jr.: Before establishing CES, Jim Sr was a boxing judge. He traveled all over the world; having judged several championship fights. One time while judging, he notice how disorganized a prominent promotional company was and thought to himself, I can do a better job than this. The rest is history.
Joseph Bruen: Bring us back to the day CES went to the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. How did that get selected and how did the involvement of Dave Bautista come about?
Jimmy Burchfield Jr.: Dave Bautista wanted to make his MMA debut. At the time he was being managed by RI native John Ryan. John is a childhood friend of one of the greatest guys I know, Ed Brady. Ed and Pat Sullivan, CES director of operations, are friends from college. We all met in the conference room of my law firm one day determined to finaliz the deal. From a promotional standpoint, we were intrigued with Bautista’s popularity and the opportunity to promote the fight with the debut of his movie, The Man with the Iron Fists. This was our first PPV and PPC event. It was a huge development in the growth of CES MMA.
Joseph Bruen: Who decides what the card is at each event? Walk us through that process.
Pat Sullivan is the best matchmaker around. Fred Blanck, of CES MMA operations, knows more about the sport than most so called experts. Pat and Fred put together a proposed bout sheet that the three of us discuss. We try to lock in the main and co-main event then work from there.
Joseph Bruen: You have jam packed crowds at Twin River casino on a regular basis. Now you have a big event at Foxwoods resort coming up! Tell us a little about these venues and what they mean to you. Do you have a favorite venue out there whether you have been there yet or not? Are there any other venues you hope to run moving forward?
Jimmy Burchfield Jr.: As the Twin River series has continued to grow in popularity, it became our “home field.” We just locked in 10 events for 2017. Foxwoods is also a favorite. When we had the opportunity to take our AXS TV Fight on the road, Foxwoods was the perfect fit. Earlier this year, we also staged our first MMA event in Massachusetts, at the beautiful North Shore Music Theater. We are locking in dates for 2017 and will be back there one more time this year. We are always exploring new venues. Stay tuned, we may be heading south soon.
Joseph Bruen: I`m sure you`re always looking for new talent. How do you go about scouting out new stars? Break down that process for us if you could.
Jimmy Burchfield Jr.: We are always searching for the best talent around. We are fortunate to have some incredible gyms in the region. With programming on AXS TV, we are being contacted by fighters from all over the world for a change to fight on a CES card – the gateway to the UFC.
Joseph Bruen: Where do you see CES 10 years from now?
Jimmy Burchfield Jr.: I believe we will continue to grow; being a major player in both Boxing and MMA.
Joseph Bruen: You are a partner of a law firm. Tell us how you juggle two important yet very different types of work and make them both succeed.
Jimmy Burchfield Jr.: I am fortunate to surround myself with intelligent and driven individuals at both DB Law and CES. We have set the bar high and collectively each team is strong and successful.
Joseph Bruen: Were you ever a fan of pro wrestling growing up and if so any fond memories from that world?
Jimmy Burchfield Jr.:As a young boy, my godfather regularly took me to Jack Witschi Sport arena. Bruno Sammartino to Chief Jay Strongbow were my guys!
Joseph Bruen: What is your legacy? What do you want to be remembered for many years down the road?
Jimmy Burchfield Jr.: Each day, I strive to be the best person I can be. A positive role model for my family. Respectful, hardworking, thoughtful and real. I want to leave this world a better place for my daughters and their generation.