Bobby Hitz hits back at Bob Arum
Bob Arum has a reputation – which has only advanced as his age has – for not being afraid to spit harsh truth when it’s called for. And with Bob, it’s called for, more often than not. Sure, he’s a promoter, so he will – and does – traffic in hyperbole to help potential customers see a matchup in the most favorable light, from the perspective of wanting them to buy a ticket to a Top Rank fight card.
But oftentimes, hyperbole be damned, it is full steam ahead for the Arum who likes to, it seems, throw back shots of truth serum before chatting with media.
As it was when he talked to the Chicago Tribune, for a story which ran today (Thursday), the day before Top Rank’s show Friday, topped by 1-0 Belfast man Mick Conlan, unfolds at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago…
“Do you want BS or the truth? I have been doing fights in Chicago for 50 years and I have never had a successful promotion here,” said Arum, 85, to the writer David Haugh. “When my guys said they were bringing Mick here, at first, it was over my dead body.”
About 2,000 tix have been sold so far, according to Arum. The goal is 5,000, the story said. There might have been a dozen attempts at returns when some area fight fans read this line:
“Everything in Chicago is big talk, no action…except for the Cubs,” Arum said. “I’m not big on the boxing fans here but we’ll see if people go.”
Bless Bob and his willingness to spit truth when silence would be the easier option, from a political point of view.
Chicago area fight promoter Bobby Hitz was one who didn’t embrace Arum’s POV.
“To me, it’s a great fight town. I’ve been promoting here 26 years; I understand the waters,” Hitz told me Thursday late afternoon. “If someone from his company spoke to me, and I reached out, before coming here, I’d have let them know, the fan base here, it’s really different.”
Hitz, in fact, is putting together a show June 23 at the Dome at the Ballpark in Rosemont, topped by light heavyweight Mike Lee (19-0, 10 knockouts). “When I put together a show, I never shoot higher than it should be,” Hitz continued. “You want to be very realistic. Are his ticket sales poor? I don’t know; he said maybe 2,000 tickets are out. I know what I do; we do a good job. This is a different kind of market. I think fight fans here should be insulted. I am. Now, I like Bob. He’s great for boxing, a legend, but this is the town I work in. This is my town and a statement like that, it’s discouraging. It makes no sense; they’re trying to sell a show!”
So, I followed up with Hitz, who fought pro, as a heavyweight, going 15-5 (with 10 KOs) from 1985-1989. What, I asked, makes Chicago fight fans different?
“They are more or less fighter fans, not fight fans,” he said. “That’s a departure from what it used to be. You see, a fighter fights and then people leave; I have found that odd.” So Hitz has adjusted. He makes it local, local, local, so fans can follow guys they know, identify with. “They like to be able to relate to somebody,” he said. “Anyway, Top Rank, I love them. They’re great people. We’re friends. They could have asked me my opinion; I tell the truth. I know my market. These are the waters I deal with every day. We go up against the Cubs, Bulls, concerts, I have to dodge those raindrops. I wish them well tomorrow but that statement Bob made, he shouldn’t have been that disparaging.”
When Chicago-based editor Coyote Duran read Bob Arum’s opinion of the “Windy City” as a fight town, it took Michael Woods to throw a dipped Portillo’s Italian beef (with giardiniera) and a 12-pack of Old Style at him to calm him down. Thems fighting words, Uncle Bob…
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