Boxing Insider Interview with Bob Arum on Pacquiao, Lomachenko, ESPN, Haymon, and more…
By: Bryant Romero
Boxing Insider was able to catch up and talk boxing with the “Bobfather” Bob Arum CEO of Top Rank to discuss numerous topics surrounding the boxing world. In this sit down interview, Arum gives his thoughts on the disappointing Heavyweight unification bout between Joshua vs Parker, Pacquiao’s contract status with Top Rank, how he plans to do business with Al Haymon fighters, he also gives more details about the new ESPN plus app and so much more.
Photo Credit: Bob Arum Twitter Account
BR: I wanted to get your thoughts on the heavyweight unification matchup between Joshua and Parker were you surprised it wasn’t as explosive?
Bob Arum: “Well yea, I thought it would be a lot more explosive the fight. They both fought an extremely cautious fight and when that happens, the bigger guy has an advantage. Particularly a guy who is getting his jabs in like Joshua was more frequently than Parker. The downside it wasn’t a very exciting fight.”
BR: When it comes to Joshua’s performance, did that change your opinion of what will happen between a potential Joshua/Wilder fight?
BA: “No it has nothing to do with it. That’s sorta silly, I think Joshua is the better schooled fighter than Wilder. Wilder has a lot of flaws as a boxer, on other hand in the heavyweight division Wilder has more one punch power than any of the other heavyweights. So that makes it an intriguing match, but Joshua is a much better boxer than Wilder.”
BR: I wanted to talk about Manny Pacquiao’s next fight Bob, it’s been finalized for July 14th in Malaysia. What was the difference between this fight getting finalized? In the past Pacquiao tried to make fights outside of the United States.
BA: “Well, I guess the people that Pacquiao was dealing with and he dealt with them directly, put up the money and previously the people talked the money but never put it up. It’s as simple as that.”
BR: So they were able to show the money?
BA: “Yea apparently, they put up some initial deposits, which convinced everybody and because of the size of the deposits, that they were sincere and that the fight would go through.”
BR: Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s advisor he made some statements to the press recently that he didn’t want to comment on Pacquiao’s status with Top Rank. Would you be able to provide some comments on Pacquiao’s status with Top Rank?
BA: “Well we have a very very good relationship with Manny. We can talk contracts from today till tomorrow but that seems like its controversial. There isn’t (controversy) for example in this fight. We’re not putting up the money, Manny got the money himself from Malaysia. Our role is to distribute the television, particularly in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and we’re happy with that.
“If Manny was looking to break his contract with us, he would’ve broken it by not having us being involved I assume. And now he’s talking if he wins this fight, fighting Lomachenko who is our fighter and we will be happy to promote a Pacquiao/Lomachenko fight if that occured because that would be huge.”
BR: If Pacquiao defeats Matthysse Bob,would a Pacquiao/Lomachenko fight take place in the United States?
BA: “That’s up to Manny. Obviously for me having it in the United States is preferable because that’s where the PPV market is and that’s where were most comfortable. But there is a substantial tax that a foreigner has to pay in the U.S. withholding and Manny may not be amenable to doing that in which case he’ll look to hold the fight outside the country. If we or he find people who put up the money for the site.”
BR: Bob you’re going to be traveling to Japan tomorrow to watch your fighter Murata. If he wins is there any real possibility of him fighting GGG at the Tokyo Dome this year?
BA: “I don’t know. The plan is if he wins to bring him this summer to Las Vegas to defend his title in Las Vegas and then we can certainly have that discussion with Loeffler and Golovkin. Right now is very difficult to discuss anything with them because the question is will there be a September fight between Golovkin and Canelo? And that’s something they can’t answer and we can’t answer until Nevada holds the hearing.”
BR: In your opinion does that fight (Canelo/GGG 2) get rescheduled?
BA: “I have no idea, I have no idea what the commision is going to do. They have a provision that the penalty is a minimum of 1 year, but they could cut it in half on various circumstances. If it’s a year, obviously the fight can’t happen, if they agree to cut it in half so it’s 6 months the fight can happen. Again I don’t know what the commision is going to do and even if the commission finds that the suspension is over in 6 months, maybe Golovkin doesn’t want anything to do with Alvarez.”
BR: Bob I wanted to get your comments about this. You recently revealed to the press not too long ago that Al Haymon fighters are practically free agents and promoters can approach them. Where are you in that situation? Are you close to signing any high-profile Haymon Fighters?
BA: “Your talking signing, we’re talking about using them on a fight by fight basis. Maybe we will sign them. We have an obligation to ESPN to put the best fights on the network and now on the ESPN Plus and to make the best fights. We have to go to other promoters to get their talent and place them with guys under contract with us. Certainly we will use Al’s fighters just the way we use Oscar’s fighters.
“We made Lomachenko/Linares and it was a provision of service agreement with Golden Boy for Linares. But we don’t have any contractual rights to Linares going forward and that’s fine. In other words, because if a fighter is fighting for Haymon, doesn’t mean if he makes a deal with us to fight one of our fighters or somebody else on our ESPN broadcast that they have to sign with us for the rest of their lives or even an additional fight.”
BR: Let’s talk a little bit about Horn/Crawford it has been rescheduled. I’m really looking forward to this fight Bob what do your matchmakers tell you about this fight? Do they tell you that Horn can beat Crawford?
BA: “No, they think that Crawford is probably either the best or one of the two best fighters in the world, even though he’s going up in weight. They’re anxious to see how he’s going to do against a much bigger guy because Horn is really a super-welterweight. He’s a big big welterweight and that’ll be interesting and he’s gutty rough guy. But as far as my Top Rank matchmakers are concerned, everybody at Top Rank, our position, our belief is that Crawford is unbeatable.”
BR: Could you give me some of your thoughts about Horn’s team comments? They don’t believe Crawford suffered an injury and they’re frustrated that the date couldn’t be changed.
BA: “Fighters who are training or are getting ready to train, when a fight is postponed because of an injury to the other guy, always feel that they’re being taken advantage of and say ‘I’m feeling great, I’m in good shape why is not this fight not happening?’ And they then take that and accuse the opponent of shaming an injury. Well I’ll tell you that it’s absolutely ridiculous, at least in Crawford’s case. We know exactly when it happened, that he was sparring and how it happened.
“At first I sent him to our orthopedic guy in Los Angeles and then he went out to Omaha to be treated by his orthopedic doctor and we know that in fact there was an injury. I give Crawford credit saying look ‘I’m not going to fight anybody with an injury to my hand. Not fair to me, and not fair to the public and I need some more time and then the hand will come around which it did. And that’s why the fight was postponed it’s as simple as that. I mean they (Horn’s team) can speculate all they want. I know what the facts are.”
BR: Lets talk a little bit about Lomachenko/Linares, how are tickets going for that event?
BA: “They’re sensational we’re opening up this weekend the balcony in Madison Square Garden and we’re looking to fill the place with at least over 15,000 people there. Tickets are going unbelievable and our gate will be well in excess of $2 million and it might exceed $2.5 million.”
BR: Can Lomachenko NoMasChenko Linares?
BA: “That remains to be seen. Linares I’ve always watched him because Mr. Honda my friend from Japan of Teiken Promotions has been the guy to develop Linares and co-promoted him with Golden Boy. So I’ve known Linares for years and I’ve always admired his ability, he’s a terrific fighter, he’s very experienced, and he’s much bigger than Loma, so it will be a real test.
“That being said, I also don’t believe there is anybody on the face of the earth 135 pounds or less that can beat Lomachenko. So we will see.”
BR: What’s next for Jose Ramirez?
BA: “Jose Ramirez is going to fight in July. The guy Prograis has the right to fight him in July. Both fighters may opt to take interim fights before they move on. That’s being discussed now and we’ll see how that comes out. If Prograis’s people say no they want to go right to the title fight, we’re happy to do that, so that’ll become clear sometime next week.”
BR: I wanted to talk a little bit about your light heavyweight Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk he’s in line to fight Stevenson Vs Jack winner what’s the better matchup for the nail?
BA: “Well I think Stevenson is the better matchup, Badou Jack is a slick guy, he’s come up to light heavyweight. He doesn’t hit nearly as hard as Stevenson, but he’s much more maneuverable and I think he creates bigger problems for Gvozdyk than Stevenson. I think Stevenson now particularly at his age is more stationary and Gvozdyk takes a terrific punch and I look for him to win that fight quite handily. Badou Jack is a tougher fight but I also like my guy.”
BR: Who wins Stevenson vs Jack?
BA: “The one thing I don’t know, you don’t know, and none of us know is what happens when Stevenson hits Badou Jack on the chin? Can he take what is a powerful punch, much more powerful than any punch he’s (Jack) probably taken with anybody else, so we’ll have to see. It’s a good fight, it’s an interesting fight, it’s very competitive.”
BR: Can you talk a little bit about the ESPN Plus app it’s about to drop on April 12th how did this come about?
BA: “Well ESPN and Disney believe that the future of delivering product whether it’s entertainment on Disney’s part or sports from ESPN that the future is direct to consumer. And they’ve been working on this package for a number of years, they’ve invested billions of dollars in the technical aspects of it. So we are very fortunate to have been selected to supply the boxing for this package which I think really represents the future.”
BR: With this new app in place will fights still be aired, televised on the regular ESPN channel?
BA: “The way it’s setup is approximately half will go on linear (ESPN) as we call it and the other half will go on ESPN Plus.”
BR: Is there anything else you like to add Bob?
BA: “It’s very exciting times and I would say as that press release said if a fight airs on regular ESPN, it will be shown on the delay basis every fight on ESPN Plus. If you don’t catch it live on ESPN and you have your subscription to ESPN plus, you will be able to watch the fight on a delay basis.”