Well, maybe that’s a bad headline, but hey, if I went with what I’m really trying to say, “What I don’t like about Bob Arum” the typical response might be; “take a number.”
Seriously, though, the middleweight champion of the world has some things to explain to me. Like everyone else I was mesmerized by his knockouts of Edison Miranda and Jermain Taylor; mostly because of the shock that a lanky, gangly white kid from Ohio could actually fight. Despite his loss to Hopkins, which in hindsight we all should have seen coming, the kid really can fight.
We just don’t get to watch him doing it.
This is my complaint, Bob Arum and Top Rank landed themselves one of the hottest promotions in boxing with Kelly Pavlik and all they can think to do with it is bury him in company pay-per-view broadcasts that no one will watch.
Pavlik hasn’t fought on regular HBO since last June, and hasn’t really turned in a riveting performance since his dramatic disposing of Taylor in September, 2007.
Pavlik is marketable, like-able, and when matched with the right opponents, an absolute firecracker. It’s been a while since middleweight has had a straight ahead puncher as a champion and his jack-hammer right hand doesn’t hurt; image wise, at least). Not to mention that, next to heavyweight, middleweight has always been one of the most popular divisions in boxing.
So why the secrecy?
I want to see Pavlik fight. Even if its just blow-outs of mandatory challengers or over-matched junior-middleweights like Sergio Mora, Pavlik is a good worker to watch. But I won’t pay $25, or however much the PPV is, to see it, and I’m a hardcore boxing fan.
How does Bob Arum intend to make money this way?
Surely HBO would offer more than a company promoted PPV and what about all those blue collar guys Pavlik is suppose to represent?
I don’t care how much love you have for a fighter, an out-of-work assembly line worker, or steel worker, or any other industrial laborer that might reside in Ohio, isn’t going to pay to see Pavlik when the mortgage is due.
And what about his choice of opponents?
Sure he needed a breather after Hopkins, but he got it, and word is that Pavlik himself is begging for Abraham.
So what’s the hold up Arum?
You have something the normal sports audience in America would watch. If HBO isn’t available, why not shop the fight to networks or even ESPN? It’d have to be an easy sales pitch.
“I’ve got this tough, hard-hitting white kid from Ohio who represents blue-collar America. Oh, he’s also and undisputed champion in a familiar weight division and he knocks people into orbit.”
What station wouldn’t pick that up for a weeknight broadcast?
Pavlik isn’t the only fighter Arum is doing this with, and Arum isn’t the only one doing it. Amir Khan, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, and now Juan Manuel Lopez either had in the recent past or will have in the near future a small scale company PPV. Why? When will promoters learn that maybe in the short game these small productions do alright, but in the long game all they serve to do is dwindle the fan base and alienate any potential patrons.
This trend isn’t something that’s good for boxing. Boxing is getting fun to watch again. 2007 and 2008 were packed with great fights, and so is 2009. Boxing is getting a little bit of notoriety and a return to the mainstream seems easier than ever right now.
So why kill the sport for a few bucks today when you could help the sport and make a lot of bucks tomorrow? I guess like everyone else I’ll stop trying to figure out Bob Arum and pray that Golden Boy doesn’t pick up this practice.
All I ask is for promoters to think about this: what makes more money? A PPV at $25 that sells 50,000 buys, or a broadcast network production that is seen by ten or twenty million people?
Consider the possibilities.