A dinner with Hall of Fame boxing promoter Bob Arum on Wednesday night in West Hollywood served up news, a heavy dose of opinion and a dessert of defiance.
Arum, who’s promoting Friday night’s lightweight title defense by Ukraine’s two-belt champion Vasiliy Lomachenko versus mandatory challenger Anthony Crolla of England at Staples Center, said he has struck a few deals to complement the aggressive boxing coverage on ESPN and its streaming arm, ESPN Plus.
At Thursday afternoon’s weigh-in at Staples Center’s outdoor Star Plaza, Japan’s World Boxing Organization super-featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13 knockouts) is set to announce a new multifight agreement with Arum’s Top Rank promotional company that will start with a May 25 title defense against Jamel Herring (19-2, 10 KOs) in Kissimmee, Fla.
Ito gives Top Rank flexibility to stage a title unification against the May 11 winner between World Boxing Council champion Miguel Berchelt and former champion Francisco Vargas in Tucson.
Arum also revealed July 12 in Osaka, Japan, as the date and site for the middleweight rematch between secondary World Boxing Assn. champion Rob Brant (25-1, 17 KOs) and Ryoto Murata (14-2, 11 KOs). Minnesota’s Brant convincingly defeated Murata by unanimous decision in October in Las Vegas.
Arum said the bout will be livestreamed in the early morning hours U.S. time, and will be replayed throughout the day for fight fans who’d like to sleep in.
Beyond that, Arum said that Lomachenko, who stands as a massive favorite over 18-1 underdog and former WBA lightweight champion Crolla (34-6-3, 13 KOs), will definitely return to the ring by late summer since new International Boxing Federation champion Richard Commey’s hand injury has healed.
If Garcia vacates, England’s Luke Campbell would be promoted to a title fight against Lomachenko that would be staged in the U.K.
“If Mikey keeps the belt, we will check on his availability,” Arum said.
Next week, Arum is headed to New York to promote unbeaten WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford’s title defense against former 140-pound champion Amir Khan of England at Madison Square Garden.
While Crawford’s 2016 pay-per-view debut versus Ukraine’s Viktor Postol fell flat, Arum reasoned that ESPN’s promotion of this pay-per-view and a sharpened interest to promote from cable and satellite providers could help push Crawford-Khan to 300,000 buys.
“The cable and satellite people are now scared after the UFC has taken its pay-per-views [starting with Saturday’s card] to ESPN Plus … that deprives them of 10 to 12 pay-per-views a year and hit them right in the [bottom line],” Arum said. “So we threatened to do the same, reminding them their way of doing business and just collecting a percentage is no longer sustainable.
“Future pay-per-view business is at stake for DirecTV, Dish Network and the cable operators … if they don’t perform for us, [forget] them. We have new, massive leverage. So now they’ll be hammering [customers] with ads of the fight, and our [promotional programming] is sensational and will go viral.”
Arum did his own promotion of Crawford by promising he will push, with a Crawford victory, for a super-fight against Texas’ unbeaten Spence Jr., even though the latter is handled by Arum rival Al Haymon of Premier Boxing Champions.
“They have one fighter, Errol Spence,” Arum said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Errol Spence wants the fight as much as Crawford wants it. So if Terence wins, I’ll call Al Haymon and work to sit down and make the fight. It’s not rocket science that this has to happen. We can sit down and make the fight in one day just like we did,” when the pair finally sat down to meet, “for Mayweather-Pacquiao.
“If a promoter blocks that fight, he ought to be ashamed.”
Arum added he intends to promote unbeaten former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury into a new version of George Foreman who will endear himself to the American audience while training in Southern California for his June 15 ESPN bout in Las Vegas.
Arum said he’s targeting a Fury rematch with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder for early 2020.
“That fight will do more than 2 million [pay-per-view] homes,” Arum projected.