Bob Arum calls out ‘cancer’
On Tuesday afternoon, a media gathering at the Boxing Laboratory in Oxnard, California, was held for WBA lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, who faces WBO beltholder Jose Pedraza, on December 8, at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, in New York City.
During his scrum with the press, promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank was asked by UCNLive.com about the possibilities of a 2019 showdown with Lomachenko (assuming he unifies the titles) versus Mikey Garcia, who has possession of the IBF and WBC belts.
“I have no idea; I have no idea,” said Arum in a frustrated tone. “I mean, we’ve made ourselves plain and we talk to the press. Until you talk to ‘the cancer,’ who knows? If the cancer has the power to block whatever fight is offered to his fighter, then obviously it can’t happen, right? If you have cancer, you can’t operate normally.”
It’s obvious that Arum is referring to one Al Haymon, who advises a multitude of boxers under the Premier Boxing Champions banner.
In recent years more and more potential fights have become non-starters, as they are bogged down by boxing politics and the alliances that exist between various promoters and networks and online platforms. The same hurdles that are in place for Lomachenko and Garcia exist with a possible bout between WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford (promoted by Top Rank) and IBF welterweight counterpart Errol Spence Jr. (advised by Haymon).
“Absolutely, it’s the cancer with any of his fights,” said Arum, who is perhaps sick and tired of always being blamed as the reason certain bouts do not come to fruition. “And let me tell you something: The (Manny) Pacquiao-(Floyd) Mayweather (Jr.) fight would not have happened if Les Moonves (the former head of CBS/Viacom) hadn’t told (Showtime President of Sports and Event Programming Stephen) Espinoza that he was stopping boxing at Showtime till that fight was made.
“Did you know that? Well, I’m telling you that.”
OK, this has not been verified and Arum does have a history of hyperbole, at times, but the fact is Mayweather-Pacquiao did take (too many) years to make, as it became the very example of everything wrong about the fractured boxing business.
For the record, a few PBC boxers have ventured across the street to face other boxers in high-profile and lucrative bouts. Daniel Jacobs and Amir Khan (who faced Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez respectively on pay-per-view events distributed by HBO) come to mind. But for the most part, it stays in-house and that probably won’t change with its continued association with Showtime and its new deal with FOX, set to kick off on December 22 with the Charlo brothers.
Now other promotional entities have their own network/platform deals and this business has become insular by nature. Everyone is guilty of this to a certain degree but, in 2018, various promoters have worked with one another and reached across the aisle to make some anticipated bouts, such as Lomachenko’s duel with Jorge Linares (a Golden Boy Promotions boxer) back in May. “You can’t accuse Oscar (De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions) of protecting his fighters; you can’t accuse. You can’t even accuse (Matchroom Boxing Group Managing Director) Eddie (Hearn); you can’t accuse anybody – it’s the Cancer,” insisted Arum. “Anybody who is with Haymon is suffering economic problems because they have cancer and the cancer is Haymon.”
It’s a bit of a gold rush for boxing with various corporate entities throwing multi-millions of dollars into the sport but has it become too divided for its own good? The question is: Can everyone work together often enough for the greater good of boxing and its fans?
Arum insists, “We are working together. We work together with (Frank) Warren; we’ve really worked together assiduously with Oscar and Golden Boy – we have all the respect for them – Kathy Duva with Main Events. The only one that wont work with anybody is the cancer. He won’t work with anybody, won’t talk with anybody, the will-o’-the-wisp.”
When reached for comment on Arum’s statements, Tim Smith, the director of communications for the PBC, emailed the following response:
“We’re busy working on matches for FOX, with whom we have a 4-year Rights deal to put boxing back on network TV in prime time once a month with studio shows and all-access programming, and a 3-year deal with Showtime for boxing shows once a month. That’s where our focus is and what we concentrate our efforts on.”
So what are Arum’s thoughts on his longtime client and cash cow Manny Pacquiao hooking up with Haymon?
“We had nothing for Pacquiao because Pacquiao has this tax problem in the United States and so forth. That’s why I doubt very much the (Adrien) Broner fight will happen – if it’s supposedly in the United States. We were facing that obstacle. They either weren’t aware of that or so forth of that obstacle and they promised him a Mayweather fight.
“So it’s the same ol’-same ol’ and we went and talked with Manny and that’s the way he wanted to go and so we wish him the best of luck.”
Arum says that while his personal relationship with the “Pac-Man” is still ”excellent,” he did note, “We think he’s made a terrible mistake but we’ll see.”
Once again this weekend, there are multiple cards taking place internationally across the various platforms (ESPN+, HBO and DAZN) and it’s becoming more difficult to actually watch all of them in one sitting.
Is this actually too much of a good thing?
“It’s all good; we shouldn’t complain,” stated Arum, who admits to not watching every single card that’s broadcast. “I mean, people say, ‘Oh, it’s terrible for boxing, two fights on at the same time.’ Well, is it terrible for (college) football that Alabama and Notre Dame are playing at the same time?”
ESPN+ has formally announced that it has picked up the Josh Warrington-Carl Frampton featherweight title bout that will feature Michael Conlan on the undercard, on December 22 in Manchester, England…Tickets for the Dmitry Bivol-Jean Pascal bout (which takes place November 24, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in Atlantic City, go on sale today. According to a Main Events press release, “Tickets, priced from $30 to $150, will go on sale Friday through HardRockHotelAtlanticCity.com and Ticketmaster.com.”…Thoroughly enjoyed “Warriors of Liberty City” on STARZ…Win or lose, the Lakers have been very entertaining this season, thus far…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.