8:48: Another call. “Two minutes away,” he said.
8:52: “Yeah, I’m walking in,” Salita said over the phone.
In the arena, it was greetings all around for Salita, who wears a black skullcap with his gray suit. He checked on Shields in her dressing room, where gospel music blasted as she got her hands wrapped, and then he took his seat ringside.
The upstart nature of Salita Promotions, with a core staff of about four, was clear. The fight was in a 3,500-seat auditorium. It was nearly full. The crowd was spirited, but nowhere near the size of most major championship fights. Still, it was a long way from the club shows he promoted early on, where he lost money and could not get a major broadcaster to pay attention. And the result, he said, was significant, not just for boxing, but for society.
Shields dominated the fight to move to 9-0 and hand Hammer, whom Salita also promotes, her first defeat in 25 bouts. Everyone was high-fiving and hugging Salita, who believes Shields could become a bona fide star.
Eddie Hearn of British-based Matchroom Boxing promotions said the Shields-Hammer bout could have benefited from a “major promoter,” according to BoxingScene.com. But with the biggest female star in Shields, some said that Salita could corner a market that many big-name promoters have ignored.
“If you’re an established female fighter, I want Dmitriy to be my promoter,” said Steve Farhood, a Showtime boxing analyst.
Salita is now looking forward to what will undoubtedly be his most lucrative bout as a promoter. Jarrell Miller, a heavyweight who was the first fighter Salita signed, faces Anthony Joshua, the world champion from England making his United States debut, at Madison Square Garden on June 1. Miller is a big underdog, but an upset would be like a golden ticket for Salita’s promotional career.