Bob Arum appeals to Al Haymon for Spence-Crawford ASAP
Promoter Bob Arum didn’t watch the Errol Spence versus Shawn Porter welterweight unification PPV scrap Saturday and, he declared to RING, he was part of the massive majority in that regard.
The pairing stands as an Al Haymon misstep, the Las Vegas promoter said Sunday, because the price was too high for a tango that he didn’t regard as a “superfight.” Arum did not hazard a guesstimate on what sort of number the PPV snagged, but he more than implied that it didn’t pop, not in a way that would leave bean counters grinning.
“It was just a fight and people have so many entertainment options, football games and so forth, and people were not gonna spend money on a fight that maybe was gonna be good,” Arum said. “It was a 10-to-1 fight, and I guess it turned out to be competitive, but Porter is not an elite guy.”
Arum said the time is right, to put his welterweight ace, Terence Crawford, who holds the WBO strap, against the 29-year-old Texan Spence. In fact, Arum said, if Haymon called him tonight, and said let’s do it, he’d cancel the planned Dec. 14 Bud Crawford title defense against Egidijus Kavaliauskas.
“Yeah, fine,” Arum said, he’d shift plans and give so many fans the superfight they crave now, and end the marination stage for the Nebraska vs. Texan mashup.
Arum said that it makes sense to make Spence vs. the 32-year-old Crawford for the titan of industry Haymon, because, Arum believes, Haymon will not make money on this last Spence bout. He thinks the reclusive deal maker lost money in the previous Spence PPV, when Spence scrapped with Mikey Garcia. Arum speculated to me that Spence PPVs “cost him millions . . . I don’t know what the hell Haymon is doing!”
There is no shortage of fans, and pundits, who crave a Spence vs. Crawford fight being brought to fruition now, and, full disclosure, I count myself in that camp.
Seeing two leaders square off for supremacy in their space, in their athletic primes, who wouldn’t want that?
Arum, however, said he could see Haymon choosing to have Spence keep on doing PBC fights, in the same way Crawford does with Top Rank’s side-of-the-street talent, if the PBC bossman were making bank off these FOX PPVs.
Now, readers should know that number specifics on buys and revenue generated and who gets what portions of pie slices are not shared readily by most anyone who crafts these productions.
Haymon never speaks to reporters, so what he does or doesn’t pocket off Spence’s latest faceoffs is not something revealed in a million years. That aside—Arum said he’d see it differently if instead of Spence and Crawford, we were mentioning Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
But these guys aren’t those guys, he said.
Hardcore fans know that Arum has in fact been “pro marination” when it comes to his heavyweight, the loquacious traveler, Tyson Fury. Fury scrapped with Tom Schwarz in June and Otto Wallin last month, the better to get Fury known to non-hardcores. Exposure on ESPN has proved beneficial, Arum continued.
To that end, he said, ESPN execs told him that ESPN got more subscriber sign ups to their OTT service off Fury’s last two bouts than Eddie Hearn has garnered as lead promoter in heading up the DAZN boxing slate, which is over a year-plus existence.
“Fury is now really known to people all over, casual fans and non-boxing fans,” Arum said. “Now, hopefully a disaster doesn’t happen, in Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz 2, though I think Wilder does OK, and probably knocks out Ortiz. Then, we’re ready to do Wilder-Fury 2.”
Marination will then have proved to pay off, in that many more PPV buys, he foresees.
Back to his guy Crawford . . . Arum is less consumed with the appeal of the Spence clash from the Joe Blow Fan perspective, the thinking shared by so many who want to see two prime specimens clash at their peak. I told Arum that I’d be less inclined to lobby to get Crawford v Spence soon, if it were announced that Spence was to fight Shawn Porter again, or if Manny Pacquiao were to accept underdog status against the power hitting Texan.
“Pacquiao is not gonna fight Spence,” Arum answered. “And I don’t blame him. Manny should fight Amir Khan in Saudi Arabia.”
Haymon holds the leverage handle, Arum said in so many words, and he would accept the lack of current interest in making Spence vs. Crawford if Spence were manufacturing mad moolah for his rival.
“Then, I’d say, ‘Listen, it’s business,’” Arum said.
But he maintains that Haymon’s path forged for Spence is not proving to be a net positive in earnings for the PBC poohbah.
“So, what’s the purpose,” Arum asked rhetorically. “What the f— is he doing?”
Arum continued, allowing that he knows the sting of losing money.
“We lost a ton of money on the Crawford vs. Khan PPV,” he said. “Haymon is not a stupid man.”
Why, he said, not take a shot now at what Arum believes is a certain revenue winner, Spence vs. Crawford?
Tim Smith, Haymon Boxing’s spokesman, said no, Arum doesn’t know what Spence PPVs make.
“Why don’t we let Arum concentrate on making Crawford into a PPV attraction the same way we’re trying to build Spence into a PPV attraction?” Smith said. “That’s where his energies should be concentrated and not on someone else’s business. Errol Spence is doing just fine—at least that’s what my eyes told me from seeing 16,700 at Staples Center on Saturday night.”
The ex-journo continued his counter punch attack at Arum’s assertions. He said that the gate figures for the Staples Center show and the Spence-Mikey Garcia event in Texas provide a healthy hint as to what level a draw Spence is.
An analysis on what Crawford has done at the gate in his last two fights and what he has done as a PPV attraction would also serve as an aid to persons looking to assess popularity of these two aces, he shared.
“That would be a worthwhile comparison of where these two guys are as far as an attraction and projected profitability,” Smith said. “I would say that it behooves anyone who is trying to build an attraction to expose him to as wide an audience as you can, which is what we did with Spence and Porter through the shoulder programming at FOX (Face-to-Face, Fight Camp, and Countdown shows where the ratings have been better than boxing shows on ESPN) and have the promos for the fight appear during NFL broadcasts on FOX, which attracts tens of million viewers.
“We’re trying to attract a new group of boxing fans and cultivate the interest of the general sports fans. We’re not really concerned with how other people run their boxing or promote their boxers. That’s their business. We tend to our business and spend all our energies on trying to make it successful and entertaining for the fans. As long as our boxers aren’t complaining and the fans are satisfied, that’s good enough for us.
“Can you please ask Arum what he would do if the roles were reversed? What would he do if he had Spence, Garcia, Porter, Thurman, Pacquiao and the PBC only had Crawford? As a businessman would he be running to make a fight with PBC in that situation? If he says he would do it in the interest of the fans, then ask him why he decided to not go with an immediate rematch between Fury and Wilder, which to me was in the best interest of the fans and it would have been very profitable?”
Strong aggression and effective countering in the debate, fight fans.
Arum, the Brooklyn-born, Las Vegas wheeler dealer, told RING that he thinks ESPN and FOX could seamlessly do business on #CrawfordSpence, so no one should think dueling platforms would be the poison pill to KO a welter-skelter collision.
It wouldn’t be like when the “pissant” premium cablers, HBO and Showtime, brokered a co-platform setup for #MayPac.
“HBO and Showtime, you’d think they were negotiating a nuclear arms treaty!” Arum said. “There are no excuses. They wanna work together. FOX and ESPN have had huge discussions how they’d handle Wilder vs. Fury 2.”
—-Michael Woods is a Brooklyn-based content provider