When you mention David Dinkins in New York City, you think of Hizzoner, the man who ran Gotham in the late 1980s and early ’90s.
But his progeny is a prodigy in the television world. As Showtime’s Senior Vice President and Executive Producer, Sports & Event Programming, David Dinkins Jr. will be producing the Floyd Mayweather Jr. – Manny Pacquiao megafight pay-per-view on May 2.
Dinkins, swamped with all the heft and hype leading up to the fight, spent a few minutes with CBS Local Sports to chat boxing, business and his allergy to personal politics.
JK: Where did you grow up?
Dinkins: Harlem, on East 138th Street. And then Washington Heights, Riverside and 158th Street.
JK: How did you begin in boxing?
Dinkins: I started with ABC Sports in 1979, as a production assistant, then to CBS Sports around 1982, as associate producer/producer. Then it grew from there.
JK: How did you fall in love with boxing?
Dinkins: I started in the business as a PA [production assistant] at ABC. I fell in love with the sport watching Matthew Franklin, who became Matthew Saad Muhammad, vs Marvin Johnson. I was working with [legendary commentator] Keith Jackson. It was 1979, and the fight was in Indianapolis.
I just gravitated toward boxing. For decades now my work has been almost exclusive with boxing. I’ve done some closed-circuit shows with CBS. Then I went over to Showtime, as a senior producer, then hired as VP and senior executive producer for sports and event programing.
I listened to Muhammad Ali on the radio. I watched closed-circuit to see Ray Leonard and the Four Kings. And then I got to produce an event for every one of them.
I love that there’s no formula to boxing. It always changes, circumstances or venue. There’s no four quarters or two halves or three periods. I love the unpredictability of it. Keeps things fresh.
This past weekend we had a tough fight for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, and he bit off more than he could chew, after campaigning as a middleweight. When he couldn’t come out for the 10th round, it was something else. His opponent, Fonfara, is no joke. Chavez’s dad didn’t want the fight. Father knew best.
JK: Did you box as a young man?
Dinkins: Not at all. I played all the team sports as a kid. By the bridge on 138th Street, the Riverton complex in Harlem. I liked everything in season. I like playoff anything, even the NHL or World Cup. I love when the best play the best.
JK: Favorite fighters growing up?
Dinkins: Matthew Saad Muhammad. Marvin Hagler. The four kings (Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran) were all special.
Leonard has been a friend and colleague for years. Hearns is one of the most exciting fighters in the ring. Duran, Leonard, Pernell Whitaker, Roy Jones. Willie Pep and Sugar Ray Robinson were before my time, so Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the fastest fighter I’ve ever seen, including Ray Leonard.
JK: Favorite fights all time?
Dinkins: Hagler – Hearns. Foreman – Frazier 1 in Kingston. It was just stunning to me to see someone lift Joe Frazier off the ground. Probably the fight I covered was Corrales – Castillo in 2005.
JK: The “Junior” in your name is hardly cosmetic. Your father was mayor of NYC. Did you ever have political ambitions?
Dinkins: I get asked that a lot. The answer is an emphatic no. I follow it closely. I never had the appetite for it. I support friends and campaign for my father. Even as a kid, when he ran for assembly I handed out leaflets.
I’ve worked from grassroots to fundraising to campaigning; you have to have a certain temperament. It’s a lifestyle more than a job. I do work on campaigns for friends, but that’s the extent of it.
JK: Was your dad a big sports fan?
Dinkins: Not at all. He was a casual fan. He had his heroes like Jackie Robinson and Sugar Ray and Joe Louis. He was a football fan. But not a crazy fan.
JK: I used to see him in the stands sometimes at the U.S. Open…
Dinkins: Yeah, “sometimes” being the operative word. (Laughs)
JK: How do you see May 2 shaping up?
Dinkins: I’d rather not predict. But given the last few years, I don’t see this fight getting stopped early unless there’s an unfortunate injury. I don’t think one can stop the other. Lots of tactics involved. Pacquiao is a combo of speed and power. And Mayweather is the fastest guy I’ve seen.
No idea how you game plan for Mayweather. Mayweather won’t find anyone like Pacquiao, either. Do your rounds and roadwork,and get your act together. They just have to be face to face and we’ll see.
JK: How can Pacquiao win?
Dinkins: Catch Mayweather off guard. Lull him to sleep, then catch him. That’s a game-changer. If he puts him down he has to put him away. Like in the Mosley fight. It would shock me if one guy stopped the other.
JK: How can Mayweather win?
Dinkins: Mayweather can’t get caught. He has a good beard (chin). Mosley caught him, but he does have a good chin. Pacquiao has more power than anyone he’s fought, at least since De La Hoya. You have to see him lose to believe he can lose. He must stick to his game plan. Stay off the ropes. Keep it in the center of the ring.
JK: If I told you someone got knocked out, whom would it be?
Dinkins: Pacquiao would get knocked out, I’d probably say, since Mayweather has never been on canvas.
JK: How important is May 2 to the health of boxing?
Dinkins: I’m so glad this fight is coming. Fans get to see what they deserve. The overall health of the sport is enhanced. People would be turned off if this fight never happened.
JK: State of boxing?
Dinkins: Contrary to widely held opinion, boxing is not dead or dying. Boxing isn’t like it once was, to be sure. With the emergence of team sports, the sports fan is spread out all over the place.
Some people think MMA splintered the sport. But you can like both, not just one or the other. The emergence of the Hispanic fighter has been big in growing the sport. They are loyal, dedicated and the foundation for an entire sport. It’s in good shape now. It’s even back on network TV.