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March 16, 2017

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: BOB ARUM
By G. Leon

Bobfather unsure Pacquiao-Khan is real, Shakur to make HBO debut on May 20, Lomachenko card sold out already!

GL: What can you tell us about Manny Pacquiao-Amir Khan on April 23? Nothing. Michael Koncz is flying into the United States tonight and he's meeting with me tomorrow. Until I talk to him, I don't know what we have here. GL: Assuming that you have something, what are your thoughts on a Khan fight as opposed to the previously mentioned Horn fight? The Horn fight was designed for Austrailia and it would have done very well there. I can't really talk about the Khan fight because I don't know how real it is.

GL: Are you saying that a fight has been announced publicly where there's been no negotiations at all between you and the Khan people?

Bob Arum: "That is correct."

GL: So it's just speculation?

BA: "No, it's not just speculation. I believe Michael talked to the Khan people and found out what it would take for him to fight Pacquiao, but I certainly haven't talked to anybody."

GL: If Pacquiao does in fact face Khan how much do you think it has to do with Pacquiao's desire to face top level opposition, instead of names the general public isn't familiar with like Horn?

BA: "I think it's basically money. Amir Khan is certainly more attractive than Jeff Horn if it's going to be in the UAE because Khan's been there a lot. But let's see who's financing it and etcetera."

GL: What lead to the fight moving from Brisbane to the UAE?

BA: "There was a proposal from the UAE for far more money."

GL: So it's strictly financial then.

BA: "Well, a proposal is not necessarily money if you catch my drift."

GL: March 17 is right around the corner, I imagine you're excited about Conlan making his pro debut on St. Patrick's day at Madison Square Garden and that card as a whole.

BA: "I'm looking forward to spending the week in New York and that card is going to be a lot of fun."

GL: I recently spoke to Alex Saucedo, he's going to be in action on that card. What can you tell us about Alex's bout?

BA: "We always knew that Alex has a lot of talent, but he needed a top trainer to bring that talent out. Now that he's working with Abel Sanchez he has a top, top trainer. I think as good as he has been up to now you're going to see a better Saucedo and he's a real talent."

GL: When are you expecting him to fight for his first world title?

BA: "I don't know what the timetable is, but I certainly expect him to be a world champion."

GL: How's the April 8 event going?

BA: "It's sold out. We're hoarding I think 20 tickets, that's all that's left and those tickets will go for five or ten times face value."

GL: Is this the greatest collection of Eastern European talent you've ever had on a show in all your years promoting?

BA: "I certainly believe that to be the case. All three of them are blue-chippers. They medaled for the Ukrainian Olympic team in London, two of them won gold and the other should have also won gold, but he got bronze. They're top, top professionals and they're all really nice young men, they're intelligent and it's a pleasure being with them."

GL: Seeing how he dismantled Nicholas Walters a fellow elite talent, what kind of resistance are you expecting Jason Sosa to provide Lomachenko?

BA: "Sosa will make it a different fight because Sosa is all action. He fights face first, I think Lomachenko is going to have to deal with that and then Lomachenko will be Lomachenko, a remarkable talent. But I think it will be a very interesting fight for as long as it goes."

GL: Oleksandr Gvozdyk is rapidly rising through the light heavyweight ranks, he's fighting Yunieski Gonzalez on April 8. What are your thoughts on that fight?

BA: "Terrific fight, of all the Ukrainians he's the most intelligent. He speaks a half dozen languages, you can talk to him about many, many subjects. He's always prepared, I'm impressed with him and he looks like Ben Affleck."

GL: He recently stopped Chilemba, something nobody else has done. Since Gonzalez has been in tough fights with top guys already, what do you think it does for Oleksandr if he's able to handle Gonzalez as nobody has before?

BA: "It's great, we're going to move him and put him in really good fights. It's very difficult to arrange a title fight because Andre's still got three of the titles and Stevenson will never fight him. We're just going to keep on going, I think Andre will fight Kovalev and we'll see what happens in that fight. Kovalev knows how good he is, Kovalev might not be very happy fighting him but that's how it may end up."

GL: You also have Usyk on the card. After achieving such great success with James Ali Bashir, were you surprised to see him make the switch to Lomachenko's father?

BA: "Lomachenko's father is absolutely and without question the best trainer in the world. As good as Abel Sanchez is and Freddie Roach is, this guy Anatoly Lomachenko is by far the best trainer in the world. He's legendary in Ukraine, I see how he trains Lomachenko and he is absolutely unbelieveable. As good as Ali Bashir was and is, with Anatoly Lomachenko taking him on he's got the best, believe me, no bullshit Greg, the best."

GL: What else does Top Rank have cooking?

BA: "We're looking to do a fight on May 20 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey."

GL: Other than Terence vs TBA, who else will be featured on that card?

BA: "I'm not sure about the television fights, but Shakur will definitely be on that card. He makes his pro-debut on April 22 and then he's going to be fighting again on May 20."

GL: Will there be highlights on Shakur's bout shown on HBO?

BA: "His entire fight will be shown on HBO as part of the telecast."

GL: Will Conlan also fight on the May 20 card?

BA: "No, we're going to look to put him on in June at the Garden. We're going to try to see if we can fit another fight in before that, but he's definitely going to fight on the Verdejo card June 10 at Madison Square Garden."

GL: Did Verdejo do enough in your opinion to warrant a major fight in June? Are you concerned that if you put him in too tough right now he might not be ready for that just yet following his time off?

BA: "Yes, you're absolutely correct. He's not going to be in as tough as originally anticipated for the reason you just said."

GL: Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?

BA: "Boxing is alive and well, it really is. I'm looking forward that Thurman-Garcia fight, that should be a terrific fight. Everything is looking good right now."

Send questions and comments to: boxingtalkg@yahoo.com



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