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August 18, 2017

MUST READ INTERVIEW WITH BOB ARUM
By G. Leon

GL: Congrats on your second great event on ESPN. Can you give us some thoughts on the card from top to bottom? I thought the Beltran and Vasquez fight was very good. I thought Beltran did better than he got on the cards, but at least he won. Luckily, because we were delayed with the hall of fame speeches, we were able to get that fight in with Barboza and Chicas and that was a really good fight. And then Lomachenko that he's the Picasso of boxing and he just painted another masterpiece.

GL: Maxim Dadashev also scored a knockout in the last round of his step up bout.

Bob Arum: "Yes, I saw him afterwards and asked him if this was his toughest fight and he said it was. This guy wouldn't quit against him and he finally stopped him in the last round."

GL: In the main event Lomachenko got marked up more than we're used to seeing. The cut was obviously from a butt, but there was already swelling under his right eye by the time he got cut. 

BA: "Yeah, he said...

GL: (continuing my original question) Are you hoping that everyone seeing him getting marked up will make it easier to secure high level fights for him?

BA: "Maybe. I've offered big, big money, bigger money than they can get anyplace else to opponents, particularly this Rigondeaux who was shooting his mouth off. I was dealing with Dino Duva and we came to a number that everybody thought was realistic and they couldn't get the kid on the phone."

GL: I just spoke to Egis and he also mentioned Rigondeaux as one of the top targets for Lomachenko if they had it their way. In past interviews you have always viewed a Rigondeaux fight as a stinker for Lomachenko. Why the change of heart?

BA: "Because the only guy in that group that knows more about boxing than me is Lomachenko and he thinks that would be a real showcase fight."

GL: Is it safe to say that Rigondeaux and the Salido rematch are the top two targets going into Lomachenko's next fight?

BA: "The three names we're looking at Rigondeaux, Salido and Miguel Berchelt."

GL: When we can expect Lomachenko back in the ring?

BA: "In December. He's going back home to Ukraine and then he'll back here training with plenty of time to prepare for a September fight. Maybe we'll do it in New York, it would be very nice if we did."

GL: The Top Rank train doesn't stop. In less than two weeks we've got Crawford-Indongo and Gvozdyk-Baker. What can you tell about that card?

BA: "Terence was in the audience last night. We brought him in and Indongo was there, they did a bit for ESPN. That fight is getting a lot of interest. I think we're 95% sold already. It will definitely be a sellout with about 12,000 people in Lincoln, Nebraksa. It's 40 minutes from Omaha and we're all staying in Omaha and taking buses to Lincoln. Terence is very excited and so are we. Terence is one of those candidates for pound for pound, as is Lomachenko. Even though they're styles are somewhat different, they're both terrific fighters."

GL: Gvozdyk goes in the co-main against Craig Baker.

BA: "And that's important because the guy who will be one of the commentators for the fight is Andre Ward, so Andre will get to see Gvozdyk up close and personal. Hopefully we can match Gvozdyk with Andre, down the line later this year."

GL: How realistic do you think that is?

BA: "That's up to Andre. Roc Nation seems like they're all in with it. It's totally up to Andre."

GL: Are you surprised that Timothy Bradley retired so abruptly?

BA: "No. I sort of sensed that he was thinking along those lines. I love him and he's a member of our family. We have a great relationship and he delayed announcement until he could meet with me personally which he did on Saturday night. He told me how much he appreciated what Top Rank did for him, how we changed his life, it was a lovely, lovely conversation and he'll always be part of Top Rank."

GL: What else is cooking beyond August 19?

BA: "We're getting set to make the announcement as early as next week for the September 22 card. Two championship match-ups will be on ESPN, Gilberto Ramirez will defend against his mandatory challenger in Jesse Hart. That's going to be a helluva fight and we've got Oscar Valdez will defend his title against an undefeated Genesis Servania. Our October card is also set, Magdaleno is getting in with tough nut Mexican who is his mandatory challenger and the Beterbiev fight, which we won at purse bid."

GL: Closing thoughts.

BA: "We've got this ESPN deal rolling and the fans can look forward to being treated with a lot more great boxing. There's going to be great opportunities for a lot of kids. Even the fights that weren't televised were all available on the ESPN App. Everybody got a shot at glory. Andy Vences looked really good, a lot of guys looked really good and they were all in competitive matches."



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