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Bob Arum disenchanted with unification process, sounds off at governing bodies

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. Photo by Top Rank
15
Jan

“Well, fuck unify,” snarled promoter Bob Arum when told that his client, Terence Crawford wants to collect all of the belts at welterweight. “All you get is trouble from the organisations, unifying titles. As soon as you unify they strip you for not fighting some bum. The problem is the guy unifies the title and then these organisations say, ‘Well he’s got to fight a mandatory’. Now, instead of having one organisation that you have to answer to, or two, you have four. And they drive you fucking crazy.”

There is also the obvious point of broadcasting conflicts be it on TV or online.

“It’s only hard… Promoters will co-operate with each other except for the PBC,” he contended. “Everybody else co-operates, as witnessed Eddie Hearn with this fight, that’s not the problem.”

But it is clear Crawford wants to fight the best, the likes of Shawn Porter, Errol Spence and Keith Thurman, for example.

“That’s different,” Arum explained, “because that is not based on the fact they have a title, that’s based on the fact they have a name and he wants to fight big names. That’s okay, not because of the titles.”

Amir Khan has a name, and Crawford fights him on April 20. Luis Collazo, the New Yorker convincingly beaten by Khan in 2014, had been in the frame to face Crawford but the Nebraska man was reportedly not keen on the match.

“It wouldn’t have been as significant a fight as this fight,” Arum admitted. “It wasn’t a question of not wanting it, it’s a question of this fight being much bigger and much more appealing than Luis Collazo. Not who would win or lose, Collazo is a terrific fighter and I think we’re using him on one of our shows, but he doesn’t have the cache that an Amir Khan has.”

Arum declared that Top Rank do not have options on Khan should he win, and he said he couldn’t understand why U.K. fight fans criticised Khan for not facing domestic rival Kell Brook.

“I think Crawford’s a much bigger fight and if he performs the way I expect him to perform in the Crawford fight then win or lose the Brook fight will only be bigger,” the veteran promoter said.

Arum was not just in town to discuss Crawford-Khan. The U.K. TV rights are interestingly still up for grabs, with Sky, BT and ITV all said to be interested and Sky (Khan’s promoter’s broadcaster) opting to see what happens over Anthony Joshua’s April 13 Wembley date before making a decision.

Arum said there would also be talks with Matchroom for Vasiliy Lomachenko to meet Anthony Crolla.

“We’re not going to talk about it in the United States,” he said. “Nobody knows Crolla, nobody thinks very highly of him, so the fight would probably be okay in England this summer.”

Is it likely?

“We will see. I will talk to Eddie Hearn about it.”

There is one division, however, where he will only have a cursory interest, and that’s among the big men.

“You’ve got to understand the problem,” he said of the heavyweight division. “It will never be vital in the United States anymore. And the reason for that is our great heavyweights, great kids, particularly African-American kids who would go into boxing, are now playing football or basketball, like Lebron James. Those would be the heavyweights. In England, in Europe what do you have? They can’t play soccer, they’re too big. They don’t play basketball, they can’t play hockey because they’re too big for hockey so the sport they go into is boxing. It used to be in the United States when basketball and footballers made no money but now a big, strong athletic kid is not going into boxing, he’s going into basketball. The huge guys we have in football if they’d started out would have been great, great heavyweights. We don’t have them, so in the United States the heavyweights have to have something special in order to resonate because don’t you think there’s a difference from when I first started? Ninety-something per cent of the world class heavyweights, 95 per cent, were Americans, and now there’s one.

“[And] Wilder-Fury resonated because of Fury. He was such a good salesman. It didn’t resonate because of Wilder but because Fury came on as a nut, a talker and so forth and that’s why people paid attention. Fury is a big draw in the United States because of one, his personality, second his performance and third how he recovered from that knockdown in the 12th round.”

 

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