By Jeff Zimmerman
At 87 years young, Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum shows no signs of slowing down. Arum has promoted the very best in boxing over 50 years from The Greatest Muhammad Ali to Hagler, Leonard, Duran and Hearns to De La Hoya, Pacquiao, Cotto and of course Mayweather Jr. And if that wasn’t enough, he now boasts two of the top pound for pound best and #1 and #2 on most boxing expert’s lists in Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford. But here he was on Wednesday at The Star in Frisco, Texas and headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys, promoting two of his young rising stars, current WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez and undefeated super prospect Teofimo Lopez, as part of the Alvarez-Kovalev 2 card that takes place Saturday, February 2nd at the Ford Center, indoor practice facility of the Cowboys.
Arum had high praise for both Valdez and Lopez but didn’t hold back on what needs to happen for them to continue their ascent in the sport. He has seen it all over his illustrious and hall of fame career and will speak his mind, even when it comes to his own fighters.
“That’s the future. Valdez is a great young man and he has some major fights, assuming he does well in this comeback fight. He fought very courageously with Scott Quigg with a broken jaw. We got Frampton, the kid that beat Frampton, Warrington, a lot of guys that Oscar can fight,” stated Arum.
“And as far as Lopez is concerned, they will fight King Kong. They got real confidence and so far, they have lived up to their confidence. So, he’s been spectacular, he not only wins fights, he wins them spectacularly,” said Arum. “He is fighting a really tough, experienced pro in Diego Magdaleno. Teofimo has avoided left handers, hasn’t fought southpaws. A lot of these guys start out just wanting to fight an orthodox fighter. Well now he is fighting a southpaw, so we will see. So, I can’t say enough about Teofimo and the way he has progressed.”
Arum was also present in Oklahoma City back in November as another one of his top prospects Alex Saucedo challenged Dallas’ Maurice Hooker for his WBO 140lb title but came up short losing by TKO in the 7th round. But perhaps the biggest news out of that evening came when Crawford and fellow welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr. met up behind the scene inside the arena for the first time and turned into a spirited verbal altercation about their potential showdown, where big dollars were even wagered.
And Arum was right there front and center and ever the promoter, loved what he saw, and of course he has seen things like this before with two of the very best.
“Yea I have and the thing that I liked about it was is while there was trash talking it was not profane trash talking. I think each guy handled them self like a gentleman and I think there was a good spirit behind it. I got a kick out of it.”
Arum continued, “I thought it was very appropriate. But I have seen that before with Ray and Tommy, they engaged in that type of dialogue before and it’s good and it’s healthy as long as it doesn’t get out of hand and it doesn’t get into profanity, but I must say that Terence and Errol conducted them self like gentlemen.”
Arum is not so sure it’s the biggest fight in boxing to make, but he knows it’s definitely in the conversation.
“I think it’s certainly a big fight. It’s hard to say what’s the biggest. There’s a lot of heavyweight fights out there, a lot of fights. But certainly, Spence and Crawford, if Crawford gets by his next fight and Spence beats Garcia, I think the public will begin to demand that fight, rightly so, there’s a lot of money for both guys to make.”
Arum didn’t rule out the possibility of the fight taking place at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, and a venue he’s very familiar with after promoting two of Manny Pacquiao fights there. Plus, he stated yesterday that Jerry is one of his favorite guys.
“Well there is a connection there in the sense that Spence is a Dallas native and it wouldn’t matter to Terence and Terence’s people from Nebraska it’s not a long trip and the hotel rooms are reasonable. There would be a lot of people who follow Terence that could afford to go to the fight.”
And Arum would love to make the fight happen this year if possible.
“Yea I hope so. But again, I can only talk from one side. You have to understand that. There is no question that I want that fight to happen, but it takes two to make the fight happen,” said Arum.
“And Spence takes his direction from Al Haymon and Al Haymon doesn’t like for his fighters to fight fighters that are promoted by anybody else, if his fighters have a chance to lose.”
Haymon and the PBC have most of the top welterweights in the division, so both sides will have to get together at some point, if there will be any chance of unification.
“We offered a big purse to Danny Garcia and he turned it down and took less money to fight whoever he’s fighting. But I think Haymon will try to keep his stable away from Crawford because he knows that none of his guys really will beat Crawford. It’s as simple as that. If he had a guy that he was sure would beat Crawford, believe me, he would make the match.”
Arum includes Spence in that mix as well.
“Even Spence. I think Spence is a very, very good fighter but there is no assurance, and Al looks at it, that Spence would beat Crawford.”
“It doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen, but I don’t think Spence would be a favorite in that fight,” Arum added.
Arum has great interest in making the Vasyl Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia fight as well, but a lot depends on how the Spence-Garcia shakes out.
“I think that’s an easier fight to make then Spence and Crawford, because Garcia dances to his own tune and I think by the end of the year we might be able to make that match,” stated Arum.
“But remember if Garcia gets stretched by Spence, even though everyone is saying he’s going up in weight and everything, he still got stretched and he’s not as valuable going against Lomachenko because the mind of the people watching it is a guy who got knocked out.”
“If he fights Spence and loses but it’s competitive, I think that’s ok. We’ll have to see. But certainly, Garcia is a very good fighter and I know Loma wants to fight him.”
Arum also weighed in on Manny Pacquiao, another one of his legendary fighters he promoted for most of his career. Ironically, Pacquiao is no longer with Top Rank and Bob Arum where he became a global icon, and is now fighting under their rival, PBC. Pacquiao takes on Adrien Broner on Saturday, January 19 in Las Vegas.
“I have had a long period with Pacquiao and I like him very much as a person and I would only wish him the best whatever he did. And I just hope everything comes out ok with his fight next week. I just wish him the best. He’s one of the nicest people that I ever promoted. He’s really a terrific guy. I can only say good things about him, so I wish him the best. I consider him, even though we are not promoting him, I consider him a very good friend.”