Bob Arum To Launch Counter-Strike At Haymon with Network Deal


The Wise Learn Many Things From their Enemies.”– Aristophanes

I recently wrote a piece that stated that if the rumors about an Al Haymon deal with ESPN are true, then the war is already over. With this final ESPN piece in place, he would have a strategic stronghold from which to build his boxing empire. I ended the piece by chastising Top Rank and Golden Boy for years of complacency and urged them to become more aggressive. Ask, and you shall receive, as now there are signs that this may indeed be happening.bobArum

Nestor Gibbs of ThaBoxingVoice was able to squeeze a few exclusive details out of Top Rank’s Bob Arum about his company’s plans for the future and how those plans might play out on network television. Gibbs brought up Arum working with Haymon to get the Mayweather/Pacquiao deal done, as a possible sign that Arum would be willing to work with Haymon in the future. Arum was asked specifically about the possibility of some of his fighters ending up on NBC under Al Haymon’s new Premium Boxing Champions series.

Arum replied, “As far as putting our fighters on NBC, I wouldn’t count on that because we will be announcing a major network deal within the next couple of weeks, We have a lot of spots to fill on our shows.”

Arum’s casual tone made the comment sound overstated. It came out as more of an off-hand remark than the kind of game-changing thing that a “Top Rank/major network deal” would actually be. The follow-up question keyed in on what it was exactly that Bob Arum was saying. When prodded, regarding the “major network” claim and whether it would be a CBS or FOX level deal, Arum confirmed that assumption.

“That is correct; that is correct… I mean I don’t want to characterize ‘this station’, ‘this station’ but yes, it will be on free television… major network.”

Top Rank does not have the best recent history when it comes to exclusive deals with networks. From 2006-2008 Top Rank churned out a notorious string of unwatchable fights that would make anyone skeptical of their willingness to actually make the best of an exclusive deal with a network but Top Rank is in a completely different situation in 2015 than they were back in 2006.

Right now, Top Rank is fighting for their life. They are under a tremendous amount of pressure to put on great events and fortify the strength of their brand, which is now in direct competition with Al Haymon and his multi-network spanning “PBC” series. The days of complacency are over. Bob Arum and Top Rank will have to fight to survive, and we will all benefit as fans of the sport.

This is all very reminiscent of how things played out years ago in professional wrestling. It was direct competition from Ted Turner backed WCW that forced the then WWF to push the envelope and up their game. This direct competition fueled both companies and rocketed professional wrestling to a popularity that remains unrivaled to this day.

I would love to see the same type of effect on boxing. Right now, Al Haymon is pushing Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya, and that is a great thing for all of us. If you care enough to read an article like this, you are exactly the person that stands to benefit from these huge promotions trying to outdo each other.

So far, the pattern has been one in which Al Haymon makes a move (or two, or three), and the other guys scramble and react. The latest news from Arum is fantastic, but it still reflects this “reactionary” pattern. The next thing I would like to see, as a fan of this kind of competition, is either Arum or De La Hoya taking the lead on the next move. They have stood back and reacted long enough; I would like to see them be proactive and present an innovative new idea that shakes up the world of boxing even further.

People can say Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is the fight that will save boxing but, I disagree. The real fight that will save boxing is the one that is happening behind the scenes. The one between Al Haymon, Bob Arum, and Oscar De La Hoya. It is how this fight plays out that will determine just how healthy the sport of boxing will be in the years to come. I personally think the future looks as bright as it ever has.