Bob Arum says shackles of boxing are broken
An ebullient Bob Arum hosted a media lunch last week at Wolfgang Puck’s, at LA Live, for this Friday night’s bout between WBC junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez and Antonio Orozco, from the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California, that will be televised on ESPN.
This event takes place a day before the HBO Pay-Per-View rematch between unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in Las Vegas.
It begins a stretch in which there will be an abundance of boxing across the globe on various outlets and platforms, that are investing millions of dollars into the sport.
Yes, it’s a boom time of sorts for boxing. (Get this: It’s not dying.)
“That’s what I told everybody, that boxing has broken out of the shackles of being a niche sport which was only shown on premium networks, like Showtime or HBO. So now everybody wants in and everybody want to show boxing and that is absolutely great. That shows that the sport is growing the same way that other major sports like football and basketball and baseball grow.
“They’re not confined to one network. Everybody wants a piece; everybody wants to show it. So maybe it’s a lot of extra work for you guys but it’s great.”
“I mean, boxing is really taking off,” stated Arum, who believes a rising tide lifts all boats.
There was a time – not that long ago – when boxing was shunned by the major networks. So what changed their attitudes?
“When we made the deal with ESPN,” said Arum, who is perhaps more than just a bit biased in his answer. “Once ESPN felt that boxing deserved a place on the sports universe and was willing to get behind boxing, it’s the leader in sports for a reason and people follow.”
The current landscape sees Arum’s company Top Rank associated with ESPN; HBO still has a boxing franchise (sorta). DAZN is with Matchroom Boxing and Premier Boxing Champions is aligned with Showtime and, soon, FOX. Arum says of this new union, “FOX realized that boxing had a big audience. It can get a bigger audience and they decided to get behind boxing. Now that’s tremendous; that’s good for everybody.
“People say, ‘What about the competition?’ Well, what about it?,” continued Arum, who draws an analogy to college football, which is on a plethora of various networks every weekend. “Does the SEC fear competition from the ACC because their games are up against each other? Of course not. So it’s great.”
However Arum does admit there is a chance that the product can become diluted – especially when certain match-ups are hindered because of network and promotional alliances.
“Of course,” he stated. “When there’s so much of anything, the product tends to be somewhat diluted but we’re a long ways away from that. In other words, when you’re on a starvation diet and suddenly you get a good meal, does that mean you’re going to get sick from overeating?
“It’s not necessarily so.”
THE PATH TO PPV
So how will fights such as IBF welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. (who is under the PBC umbrella) versus WBO counterpart Terence Crawford (promoted by Top Rank) come to fruition sooner rather than later? For this to become a reality, it will most likely have to be joint pay-per-view.
“I think if they do their job over there, whoever is going to have (Spence), FOX or Showtime – it won’t be both – if they do their job the way ESPN and Top Rank will do the job for Terence, that by the end of next year (2019), this would be like a (Sugar Ray) Leonard-(Thomas) Hearns fight and there’s plenty of room for everybody to be involved.”
As for the possibility of WBA lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (who Top Rank handles) versus IBF/WBC beltholder Mikey Garcia (who is advised by Al Haymon), Arum told UCNLive.com. “I don’t know how realistic it is but I’ve told Robert (Garcia), who’s Mikey’s brother and a good friend of ours, that Lomachenko’s fighting (WBO titleholder Jose) Pedraza because that was agreed to, when Pedraza beat (Ray) Beltran. That will be in December.
“And if Lomachenko is successful in that fight, he looks forward to a fight with Mikey Garcia, for all the lightweight belts. We’re not fooling around here; we’d love to do that fight.”
Here’s this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and Yours Truly previewing the Golovkin-Alvarez rematch and looking back at last weekend in boxing:
Top Rank has announced that it has secured a deal with Frank Warren to air his fights here in the U.S. under its deal with ESPN+…Jamel Herring-John Vincent Moralde for the vacant USBA 130-pound title will be part of the ESPN broadcast from Fresno…Gave “Mayans” on FX a shot and it looks promising..OK, so is there anything interesting to do in Vegas?…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.