By: Hans Themistode
Things have changed in the sport of boxing ever since COVID-19 has wrapped its disease-ridden arms around it. Not only are events held with a meager amount of spectators or in some cases, inside of an entirely empty arena, from a financial standpoint, the deadly disease has forced several notable boxers to take a significant pay cut.
While promoters such as Bob Arum have paid his stable of fighters wealthy sums, in many instances, prominent names such as Teofimo Lopez have balked at the numbers floated in their direction.
Arum, 89, has continued to carefully count his money before dispensing it. Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on the other hand, has had no such issues as none of their fighters have been asked to take a reduction in pay.
Even with a worldwide pandemic taking place, PBC has pushed many of its bigger events to the Pay-Per-View side of things. Yet, with the numbers that they have continued to churn out, Arum simply can’t understand why they continue to dig their hands into the pockets of fans.
“I don’t know what PBC is doing,” said Arum during a recent interview with Barbershop Conversations. “They’ve done so many of these Pay-Per-View events which have largely been unsuccessful. It must be costing a ton of money. Whether it’s the Charlo brothers or even Tank Davis who’s a big talent. His fight with Cruz was a good fight but not a Pay-Per-View fight. Not for the price they were charging.
“People have to realize where we’re at economically in this country. You’re not going to get the public to shell out big bucks in this climate. Unless it’s something so overwhelming that they decide to do it.”
In totality, PBC has put together three Pay-Per-View events. A twin doubleheader on September 26th, featuring unified 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo and his twin brother WBC middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo. The final numbers for their showing were reportedly between 100,000 to 120,000 buys. Another event, which took place on October 31st between Gervonta Davis and Leo Santa Cruz reportedly pulled in 200,000 to 225,000 buys. Their final Pay-Per-View event of the year took place just a few weeks ago featured Errol Spence Jr.
According to Arum, what qualifies as something “overwhelming,” would be the long-awaited showdown between the previously mentioned unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. and WBO belt holder Terence Crawford. Despite Spence Jr. reeling in roughly 250,000 Pay-Per-View buys for his one-sided victory against Danny Garcia on December 5th, Arum is under the belief that a matchup between the two undefeated 147-pound titlist would bring in much higher numbers.
“Listen, if Crawford doesn’t fight Spence and Spence doesn’t fight Crawford everybody is fooling themselves. If you want to do a big Pay-Per-View event then you got to put Crawford and Spence together.”
For as critical as Arum has been to Spence Jr. and his ability to draw, Crawford has struggled even more. In a 2016 July Pay-Per-View headlined by Crawford and Viktor Postol, the Nebraska native reportedly pulled in somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 buys. Three years later, Crawford would headline his own Pay-Per-View again, this time against Amir Khan. Crawford’s number would increase to 150,000 but when juxtaposed to the figures of Spence Jr., the difference is glaring.
Spence Jr.’s 250,000 Pay-Per-View buys represent his worse since he appeared on the platform. In back to back fights against Mikey Garcia and Shawn Porter respectively, Spence Jr. pulled in roughly 350,000 buys apiece.
Regardless of his success however, Arum is convinced that only a Crawford vs Spence showdown would drive up Pay-Per-View sales and fatten both of their bank accounts.
“Who is Spence going to make money with if not Crawford? Manny Pacquiao isn’t going to fight either one of them now. He’s waiting to fight Conor McGregor after McGregor does the UFC fight. Now you can’t blame Pacquiao for that because Conor McGregor is just a good money grab.”