Bob Arum: Giving Boxing a Second Chance with Showtime

Jess Matthew BeltranCorrespondent IIJanuary 24, 2011

1 Dec 1995:  Boxer Butterbean is hugged by Bob Arum in the ring after he knocked out Louis Monaco in the first round.  Mandatory Credit:  Al Bello/Allsport
Al Bello/Getty Images

The 79-year-old boxing promoter, Bob Arum, closed his eyes and slept for hours. He can’t remember the last time he had been sleeping like this. No worries, no failed promises, just a brighter future for the sport he loves and dedicated his whole life to.

Bob Arum always dreamed of merging a pay-per-view provider with a bigger network, a bigger avenue for a dying sport who direly needs a global attention. It has been the oldest sport since the Romans abandoned the gladiators fighting in the arena of death. However, it's glitters are slowly fading ever since the heavyweights abandoned the sport with less TV coverage and exposure.

HBO had been controlling boxing for years. They’ve become the puppet-master who controls the marquee fights, the promoters and the fighters. It’s becoming a mark of greatness if you have been featured on HBO pay-per-view, a setting point for boxer’s marketability.

Bob Arum shared his idea about partnering HBO’s pay-per-view with a larger network base. There are 30 million HBO subscribers, and adding it up with a 100 million more from CBS or other big networks is his ambition.

Manny Pacquiao brought back excitement and inserted a different blood into boxing. If there is a time for merger, the time is now.

You can never be wrong with Manny and his humility and all-out fighting style, but the idea is always greeted with a letdown. HBO never really cared about boxing. It’s because they were never threatened.

Showtime was their closest competitor, but as far as the production and compelling fight documentary, it’s still a unanimous decision with almost shutout scorecards.

Bob Arum negotiated with Showtime for the Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley fight with CBS merging for the May 7 fight. It’s almost a done deal with some minor touches to straighten up.

It was a bold move, but it was a risk that needed to be done for boxing. CBS would give them a broad marketing leeway and bring boxing back to the limelight. It would open up bigger and exciting fights with more exposure for up-and-coming fighters.

Boxing should be competing with other prime time sports, not putting every fight on an “after dark” show.

Bob Arum sleeps well nowadays. He knows the risk of bolting out on prime time HBO, but somehow he will have to try.

Boxing deserves a second chance, and whatever happens, he knows it’s always the right choice…because somewhere and somehow, Bob has given boxing its wings.


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