New York: The remains of the latest boxing show promoted by Top Rank at Madison Square Garden Saturday night and their first pay-per-view ESPN telecast was the continued commitment to promote Latino fighters and they do that well. There is no doubting that lightweight Teofimo Lopez is an upcoming superstar after his latest win that propelled him more in the lightweight title picture.
And Felix Verdejo, the lightweight from San Juan Puerto Rico, he’s on the comeback trail after his decisive 10-wound win over Bryan Vasquez.
Christopher Diaz, another Top Rank fighter and former world title challenger from Barranquitas, Puerto Rico did not do as well. Diaz, (24-2,16 KO’s) was outpointed by featherweight Shakur Stevenson, 11-0, 6 KO’s, another Top Rank fighter and 2016 Olympic silver medalist.
“It was an honor for me to get a big victory in front of my fans at Madison Square Garden,” Verdejo said. “I defeated a great fighter in Vasquez. I worked hard for this fight. The jab and body punches were key.”
Top Rank is committed to getting Verdejo another chance. There are title aspirations for the 25-year who has won his last two fights and has overcome an injury to his wrist. Verdejo, almost 16 months ago sustained numerous injuries riding a motorcycle in nearby San Juan.
“He’s mentally tough,” said numerous members of his fight camp after the win Saturday night.
But there are questions and it is obvious that Verdejo is not to be mentioned as a comparison to Felix Trinidad or Miguel Cotto two Hall of Fame title holders from Puerto Rico that set boxing records. Cotto is the first four-division champion form Puerto Rico and in retirement now as a manager and promoter.
But you be the first to determine if Bob Arum, the Hall of Fame promoter was out of line. Terence Crawford, his top fighter, always in that discussion as best pound-for-pound got a victory with a low blow stoppage in the ring Saturday night. It was a classic ESPN production of show and tell well past midnight in the east coast.
And Bob Arum was on the stage doing his production and imitation of a King in the Mecca of Boxing. Yes, Terence Crawford got a win, low blow or not, and it can be determined that an aging fighter, Amir Khan, may have opted out as quick as Gio Gonzalez was doing with the Yankees the past few days.
Khan was going to lose and got knocked down in the first round. Then, Khan made a brief comeback. But Terence Crawford, who makes a lot of money for Bob Arum, finished the job with a supposed low blow that solidified the argument of possibly being the top fighter at 147.
Or is that top fighter Errol Spence Jr. who works for Arum’s adversaries at the PBC and holds another piece of the welterweight titles? Spence makes a lot of money for the PBC, (Premier Boxing Champions) and Al Haymon is the promoter and manager.
Haymon, conspicuous by his absence, is never seen at the fights. He and and Arum are known for a silent war of words. It’s business and boxing has become this huge money making machine with Arum and ESPN, Haymon and the PBC, Matchroom and DAZN. Streaming networks with ESPN/ Top Rank, and DAZN. FOX/ Showtime, with the PBC and limited streaming provides the network.cable telecasts and plenty of it.
And then there is pay-per-view, still a factor as was the promotion for Arum’s Top Rank and ESPN that presented Terence Crawford again to the world.
Back to Arum and his tirade, as the legendary 87-year old does well, better than the billionaire President who resides in the White House.
His champion, Crawford, with this win got one step closer to opposing Errol Spence Jr. This is a mega fight boxing fans want. It’s a fight in demand and would rival the record revenue that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao compiled in May of 2015.
And recall, that fight took some time before it was set in stone. Recall, it was Bob Arum again, without ESPN and a streaming network. It was Mayweather, a one-time Arum fighter and another adversary with Showtime as the partner. It was Top Rank with Arum. and HBO was the number one network that televised boxing.
They combined forces and it worked. Took some time but boxing fans got what they wanted. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, top two fighters at the time and everyone went home happy, with exception of that record number of fans at the gate and the millions who purchased the fight on pay-per-view because it was dull and the fight did not live up to expectations. Mayweather retained his claim as the undefeated fighter and best pound-for-pound.
So Bob Arum went on his tirade Saturday night. He proclaimed that Crawford and Spence should fight to unify the welterweight titles, a division in boxing that has the elite fighters. It’s the anticipated fight boxing fans want and the sport would see a good one.
But here we go again. Whether it’s the ego of Bob Arum, or simply his age of not thinking before he talks, or being on stage as the promoter, he put the foot in his mouth.
He told the world, boxing fans who want to see Crawford against Spence, “Boycott PBC fights.” His attack was directed at Hayman and the PBC. In other words, Arum insists that Hayman and the PBC are holding back Errol Spence Jr from getting in the ring with his fighter,
We all know, this is about the networks. ESPN, supposedly with all the money is in control, even though they let go most of their good writers and on air personalities because of cutbacks. They coordinate the dates and who gets what for Top Rank and Bob Arum.
Hayman and the PBC want this fight. They do business, though always with the cloud over them, because this is boxing and there is big money going around the table from different and unknown sources.
But Bob Arum, with this Hall of Fame ego, and granted a promoter of past and great champions, he put that foot in his mouth. Hayman is not the culprit as Showtime or Fox will listen.
Terence Crawford had to answer about the low blow. He was on his way to a TKO and will fight again at some point this year. But that fight won’t be with Errol Spence Jr. Maybe it will happen next year but Bob Arum let his ego and mouth get in the way,.
Damage control? Obvious this is business but you don’t do that in the ring at Madison Square Garden as boxing fans did not want to hear about a boycott of the PBC. They are the managing company that has a hold on most of the elite fighters at 147.
Bob Arum needs Al Haymon and the PBC. Instead, he would rather have a boycott as a negotiating tool to get Crawford and Spence in the ring. He took a tool that that a tyrant uses in the White House.
Yes, Terence Crawford continued his quest. And we are not talking about another Bob Arum fighter, unified lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, who could be considered the top fighter. That is a discussion for another time.
For Bob Arum, a boycott is his negotiating tool. And of course, that statement was another black eye for the sport of boxing,.
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