Arums talks Loma, Crawford-Khan, Teofimo Lopez, Shakur Stevenson, Zurdo vacating and more
Greg Leon: Congrats on a great card the other night. Vasyl Lomachenko looked as deadly as he's ever looked [stopping Anthony Crolla]. Can you give us some thoughts on his performance, the card as a whole and ultimately the injury he suffered? Bob Arum: "I thought that Gilberto Ramirez looked terrific in going up to light heavyweight [defeating Tommy Karpency], and Lomachenko, I mean what can you say? I've never seen anything like that. It's almost like he's a magician in there because he's fighting world class fighters. Crolla is a decent lightweight, a former [WBA] champion and a solid pro and he made him look like an amateur."
GL: No, he made him look like he's never put on boxing gloves before. BA: "Exactly! I agree with you. I've never seen anything like Lomachenko, never. Now that his shoulder was 100%... you know he didn't tell me, but the doctor told me that when he did his last fight with Pedraza he wasn't allowed to throw a right hook. He was all healed, but the doctor said not to throw the right hook because when you hurt it before, you can hurt it again. This time he had permission to throw the right hook and that's what he knocked the guy out with."
GL: Do you think his hand injury had anything to do with the gloves? I know all of the top guys with Egis will be wearing Venum because they've made a deal. I know that hand injuries happen frequently in boxing regardless of who makes the gloves, but it's his first fight with Venum and he suffers a hand injury so I think it's a viable question.
Bob Arum: "It is a viable question and I don't know what the answer is. I talked to Egis and the doctor and I'll tell you exactly what the doctor said. He had a broken knuckle, a little crack and the ligament was dislocated so he went to see Steve Shin, who treats all of the hand injuries for all of my fighters. He's a big hand expert and they numbed his hand, relocated the ligament and put him in the cast for the cracked knuckle. The doctor doesn't want him to hit anything or use the hand for six weeks. Then he can use it lightly after that, so we figure right now he'll be 100% ready to go after eight weeks when he's able to use it, which will be in September."
GL: I was joking with Egis the other day, I said it seems like the boxing gods don't want to see Loma [unify his WBA and WBO titles] vs. [IBF lightweight champion Richard] Commey. The fight was on tap, Commey hurts a knuckle and the fight doesn't happen. Now Loma makes the mandatory against Crolla...
BA: (cuting in) "The truth is we were thinking about maybe having him go in August, so it's not a big deal it's basically a one month setback, if that, because we weren't sure that we would go in August anyway."
GL: Is the plan to have him come back in September with Commey?
BA: "There's a lot of ways to go here. We're going to talk to Lou [DiBella who promotes Commey] We know Commey is talking about making a title defense before he fights Loma or Teo(fimo) Lopez. He might end up with Teofimo too, we'll see. We don't know what Garcia is going to do. Is he going to stay at 135? If not, maybe Loma fights (Luke) Campbell for the WBC title. There's a lot of possibilities."
GL: What was it like working with Eddie Hearn on this promotion?
BA: "Eddie is a professional for chrissakes. First of all, he sends over a fighter like Crolla with a manager and trainer like Gallager and they behave like professionals. They're at press conferences when they should, they do interviews when they should, they do media workouts when they should. They're 100% people. Eddie really didn't have to do any work on the promotion."
GL: Good thing, since he doesn't know dick about promoting in the US?
BA: (laughs) "Well that's right he knows dick about it. But I admitted the other night to the writers that I equally know dick about promoting in England."
GL: When you made the remark that fight landed on ESPN because Eddie didn't want to start a war he can't win. Reading between the lines that sounded like he better never f**K with us and play nice if he wants ESPN to help him with his major events like Canelo and Joshua bouts.
BA: "Well it's not so much play nice, but you don't go to a purse bid and get one of our fighters stripped because you're going to purse-bid and the fighter is not going to fight on DAZN because his contract provides that he's got to fight on ESPN. You don't do that to us and we're not going to do that to you. Find out what's a resonable purse that your guy wants and we'll pay him, so it worked out amicably there."
GL: We're less than a week away from the mega-event headlined by Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan with a fully loaded undercard. Tell us all about it.
BA: "We're very excited. We had Teofimo around for a couple of days reminding us that he's the greatest fighter in the world and he'll be fighting on that card. Shakur and Terence have been training in Colorado Springs and I hear they're in fabulous shape. I got a text message from Memo Heredia who is the strength and conditioning coach for Felix Verdejo and he's in great shape. Christopher Diaz, I spoke to him and he's in great shape so we're lock and loaded and ready to go."
GL: I asked what your expectation was for this card PPV wise and you told me to ask you again the week of the fight after you see how ESPN puts its megaphone behind it. Now that we're here, what's your expectation for the fight?
BA: "The truth is when we started and first rolled it out I was hoping for 350k, but now I really think we have a helluva shot to break 7(00)k buys. You're going to see commericals that Disney is rolling out talking about the Crawford-Khan fight and the Avengers movie coming out a week later, with the Avengers fighting some gang...I don't know who the hell it is, but they're expecting it to be the biggest movie of the year. The whole advertising campaign this week for the Avengers is intermixed with Crawford and Khan, and if you put ESPN on you'll see big features on the fighters on the card. On ESPN+ there's a tremendous piece on Teofimo called the prospect and they're about to put on another one with Shakur Stevenson. ESPN and Disney are really going crazy promoting this. We had a big talk with the satellite dishes and the cable companies and they're in a state of panic because UFC has taken all of its PPV through ESPN+ for a big guarantee and we told them that if they don't produce for us on this one then we're going to do the same thing with our PPV's. They don't want to lose the boxing franchise now that they've lost the UFC franchise which means a lot because UFC was doing ten to twelve events a year on PPV. Whether you have cable or DirectTV you're going to be bombarded by them to buy the fight."
GL: In your opinion does Crawford-Khan doing more buys than Spence-Garcia eliminate any doubt that Crawford is the A side of any Spence fight?
BA: "No, it's got nothing to do with it. You couldn't expect Spence and Garcia to do the numbers this fight will because they didn't have the marketing support that we had with ESPN. Fox is new and Fox is also a mixed entity, they've got entertainment and sports. It's not like ESPN who has five channels and can go around the clock pushing an event. They would tell me it's not a fair comparison and they would be right."
GL: Earlier you said Teofimo Lopez was telling everybody he's the best fighter in the world and that's a good thing because after the way Loma just looked it's going to be hard to find top guys who want to run towards him and want him the way Teofimo seems to.
BA: "I don't know what they're seeing, I'll tell you that frankly. Teofimo is a great, great fighter, but I remember when we signed Tyson Fury, the father called me up and know if he could match Teofimo against Tyson Fury...and I only think he's being facetious."
GL: Shakur is getting ready for a step up bout against Christopher Diaz and the footage from the incident last year comes out the worst possible time. Does it concern you that this may be a distraction to Shakur?
BA: "I don't think it's going to be a distraction for Shakur. The incident itself, you're right took place almost a year ago. We took it very, very seriously. We spoke to Andre Ward who is a very solid guy and the co-manager. We spoke with the grandfather, we spoke with Coach K, we spoke with Shakur. He's learned his lesson and everyone has assured us that nothing like this will ever happen again. The release of that video, which I had never seen before really brought home how stupid and uncalled for that incident was, but we had already taken steps with the young man to assure ourselves that it would never happen again."
GL: How does it feel to have this in house competition where lots of people consider Loma pound for pound best and he looks the way he did against Crolla, further cementing his status as king to having Crawford, considered pound for pound best in the eyes of many as well looking to further his position?
BA: "It is good to have two great fighters like that and I look at who's the best pound for pound fighter as being sort of ridiculous. Who's the most valuable player on a football team? The guy who gets 20 sacks disrupting the other team's offense or the QB throwing for a gazillion touchdowns? Who's the most valuable? They're different. Lomachenko is the greatest technical fighter I've seen, I've never seen anything like it and Terence Crawford is the second coming of Sugar Ray Leonard for me. Who's better? They're different."
GL: Anything you can tell me that nobody has reported yet?
BA: "Well, let me see...I think that (Zurdo) Ramirez is coming to New York and I want to sit him down with you. I don't want to hold anybody up in the super middleweight division, so he's either going to let us know if he wants to go back down to super middleweight or stay at light heavyweight. My guess is that he's going to stay at light heavyweight in which case we'll get him a title fight or a fight with a guy like (Eleider) Alvarez. I don't know how he was ever 168 pounds. He weighed in at 175 for the fight, but he came in at 195 pounds for the fight. He's a big sonofabitch. He fought at light heavyweight and Karpency looked like the smaller guy."
GL: Jesse Hart told me he may be fighting Eleider Alvarez.
BA: "Jesse is going to fight on June 8th and we're going to evaluate and meet with Jesse. If Zurdo decides to stay at light heavyweight, we're going to explore the options with the WBO and Jesse to see if Jesse can fight for the vacant title."
GL: Closing thoughts.
BA: "We're really excited to be in New York with this great show. Everybody in LA is buzzing about the Loma card that we put on the other night. The production was like nothing ever seen before, the in arena production. We had 10,000 people in there and the place was buzzing. There was a lot of Hollywood celebrities there, everybody said that they had never seen a production like the one that went on in Staples on Friday and I told everybody just wait till you see what we're going to do at the Garden. You know enough to evaluate the fights for yourself, but I'm talking about the production. It's going to be like nothing you've ever seen before, it's going to be absolutely thrilling. Boxing now, with the help of ESPN and the funds that we're putting into the production, is being presented like a real major league sport. The fights depend on the efforts that the fighters put out and I'm convinced that the fighters are going to put on a great effort, but people are going to see a fantastic production whether they're in Madison Square Garden or watching on ESPN PPV."
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