If Bob Arum doesn’t like you he’ll tell you about it. At his age he isn’t holding anything back. That was on full display on the lead up to the Pacquiao Bradley rematch. Arum went on a tirade during a presser in which he flabbergasted the media and MGM executive to his side about the way the casino and hotel promoted the fight or otherwise didn’t.
National headlines hit the net almost immediately. Most reactions to this particular incident were negative although in my opinion, Arum had a legitimate beef. Some argued he didn’t need to say anything in public, yet billboards and posters of their competition were starring them right in the face. I looked at Arum as a guy who was sticking up for his fighters, his company Top Rank, and his reputation. Maybe I’d been wrong about this old guy after all?
More headlines had been cropping up just a few weeks earlier about. Jr Lightweight champion Mikey Garcia suing Arum and Top Rank. Garcia wants to be released from his contract, noting types of exploitations from Arum and Top Rank as his main cause. Mexican superstar Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. would also get into a serious contract confrontation some weeks later.
It’s with Chavez we see how promotional teams, especially with Top Rank, have traditionally leaned on boxers to sign contract extensions. Chavez was offered a lucrative fight against rising star Gennady Golovkin. If Chavez signed the contract he’d get a healthy purse that was larger than his previous fight, along with guarantees for future fights at specific price ranges. Chavez’s second option to sign was without the extension but at a significantly lower rate.
Chavez has built his reputation over the last few years on HBO. His following was easy to latch on to, as his father Julio Cesar Chavez is one of Mexico’s most legendary fighters. As Chavez Jr. matured, his fights gained bigger audiences and brought in more revenue. He’d clearly earned his status as an A level fighter who could carry a PPV telecast.
When Chavez didn’t sign the extension or the less lucrative offer, fight negotiations were cancelled. Chavez himself said he’d fight at a fair price like in the original offer, but he didn’t want to sign an extension. Chavez has since not been offered any future fights.
With the very real possibility of Chavez jumping ship to Showtime or at the very least working on a fight by fight basis with Top Rank like we’ve seen Miguel Cotto do, Arum brooded and soured over the idea. After careful consideration he decided on how he could simultaneously hurt Chavez, thus crippling future business endeavors, and rival boxing network Showtime.
Arum’s proposition is to stage a Chavez fight on the same day that Floyd Mayweather is also scheduled to fight. If Top Rank closes the deal, Arum will have succeeded in limiting the amount of viewers who tune in to see Floyd on Showtime, but also the amount of people who could watch his own fighter. That would significantly lower the amount of money Chavez could earn and be a final parting gift for the boxer who has earned Arum millions.
It’s no secret that Arum sees his old school promotional tactics becoming less effective. With more competition in the market, a boxer no longer is given an offer he can’t refuse. Quite the opposite actually as professionals like Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather are promoting themselves. Instead of working for his own benefits, Arum would find himself and Top Rank better able to evolve with the times if they worked more for the fighter and the fans.
Arum keeps boxing from progressing further into the 21st century as his business practices embody greed and teeter on illegal as Garcia alleges. All ready we’ve seen fans feel the consequences. Political maneuvering and hostilities between Arum and rival promoters and networks have limited what fights can be made.
Boxing continues to see some great fights and people continue to watch. However, if you look at the opportunity costs to where boxing could be, you’ll notice the sport is losing. While there’s more than one person to blame for the current state, Bob Arum is the figurehead that reflects it. With continued actions like those with Chavez, the fan’s experience is diminished as fights go unmade. Bob Arum can make his narcissistic and trivial point by putting Chavez’s promotion up against Mayweather’s on September 13th but in doing so he’ll bring validity to being boxing’s public enemy #1.
Bueno suerte amigo.