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Former C.B. 3 chairperson guiding lightweight boxer’s rise to the top

BY JACK BROWN | On Saturday night Dec. 14, David McWater, former four-term chairperson of Community Board 3 and longtime proprietor of destination dive bars in the East Village and Lower East side, reached a milestone with another enterprise.

McWater is the founder and C.E.O. of Split T Boxing Management. Split T’s prize prospect, Honduran-American Brooklyn-raised Teofimo “Gordo” Lopez, beat Ghanain I.B.F. lightweight champ Richard Commey to take the belt.

And Lopez did it in spectacular fashion with a devastating second-round knockout. In person, there is an almost frightening sense of feral power beneath the charm. Lopez’s presence is like that of a coiled spring.

That was on display in the bout at Madison Square Garden. He barely threw a punch in the first round. Meanwhile, Commey was active, throwing lefts and rights and landing.

A minute into the second round, suddenly “Pantera” sprang. Lopez unleashed a vicious short left hook that staggered the champ. The challenger then lined up and uncorked a powerful right straight to Commey’s face, sending him sprawling and spinning on the canvas. The ref allowed the fight to proceed, but Lopez pummeled Commey on the ropes with a barrage of punches, and it was all over.

David McWater, right, with Teofimo Lopez at Madison Square Garden the night the boxer won the I.B.F. title in a second-round knockout. (Courtesy David McWater)

The win launched the 22-year-old fighter with the talent and charisma to replace the retired entrepreneur Floyd “Money” Mayweather as the premier boxing personality.

And it launched Split T into clear recognition as a player to be reckoned with in the bloody-elbow world of boxing.

McWater is having a “dominant” recruiting season at the Olympic trials. This will build on a stable of already accomplished boxers. They are thriving under McWater’s ability to “move” them, secure fights and build careers.

Perhaps the most important part of psychotherapy is “the relationship,” the dynamic of trust and confidence established between the therapist and patient.

It is here that McWater excels. He establishes respect by giving respect to boxers and their teams. He has earned the reputation for doing what he says he will do.

He is able to deal with top promoters, like Top Rank’s Bob Arum and PBC’s Al Haymon, with business savvy. By virtue of signing top talent, Split T has the goods promoters seek.

It is said, trouble is opportunity. Split T has experienced the thing that makes boxing both terrible and compelling — the potential for fatal damage to be done.

Lopez was upset by the death of Maxim Dadeshev from head trauma suffered in a fight on July 26. It was part of the reason his championship fight was delayed by several months.

More recently, former Olympian Charles Conwell knocked out Patrick Day in a junior middleweight bout on Oct 12. Day was taken off life support four days later. 

After Lopez battered Commey he went over to his vanquished foe and asked solicitously “Are you all right?”

McWater fully comprehends the risks and rewards. With his record of success and reputation of integrity, he may well lead the effort to reduce “death by boxing.”

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