A good promoter is supposed to be a “people person,” someone with great interpersonal skills, a positive outlook on both their product and their industry, and an untiring drive to reach new customers and markets.
Bob Arum, Hall of Fame boxing promoter, is none of that.
But that really shouldn’t be a surprise in the Bizarro World of professional boxing where up is down, down is up, and promoters, who rarely actually promote these days, tell their customers, both literally and figuratively, to go fuck themselves.
When recently asked by Boxingscene.com about fans being frustrated at the delay in signing the Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua heavyweight unification blockbuster (a fight which has just been confirmed as signed by promoter Eddie Hearn), Arum responded with this:
“You know what I say? Go fuck yourself. Find a life. That’s what I would say to them.”
Just to clarify– that was directed at fans EAGER to purchase his product.
You don’t have to dig too deep to see that derision for the fans is a defining character trait for the 89-year-old promoter. Several years back, when asked about fans clamoring for a bout between two of his fighters, he lashed out with: “I know what people want and they can go fuck themselves.”
But that derision doesn’t end with the fans. He’s not all that respectful of his fighters, either.
In recent times, as hormones flat-line and, maybe, the Depends start to chafe, that disrespect and derision has spilled out into his public discourse.
In just the last five months or so, he’s blasted, arguably, his two best fighters, Terence Crawford and Teofimo Lopez.
“…Who the fuck needs him?” Arum said about Crawford, in response to Crawford’s growing frustration at a lack of big fight opportunities under Arum’s watch. “He may be the greatest fighter in the world, but, hey, I ain’t going bankrupt promoting him.”
…The question is, ‘Do we want to keep him?’ I could build a house in Beverly Hills on the money I’ve lost on him in the last three fights. A beautiful home.”
And when Crawford replied in anger, asking for a release, Arum doubled down.
“I don’t give a shit if [Crawford] got mad at me,” Arum blasted. “What’d I say that was wrong? I’ll show him how much we’ve lost on his fights…I am not going to go in my pocket anymore for Terence Crawford…I’m no longer in the business of losing money on Terence Crawford.”
I don’t think “shitting on your own client” is in any Promotion 101 textbook.
In the case of Teofimo Lopez, Arum engaged in a more indirect dis– brutally low-balling the 23-year-old’s upcoming title defense, forcing a purse bid that he would lose with a second low-ball offer– before countering Lopez’s predictable public lament with the following, also via Boxingscene.com:
“If he wins and comes back to us and wants the same money that he got before, the answer is ‘no.’ So he sits out for a while…He either fights, or he doesn’t fight. It’s easy. Teofimo has a contract with us.”
In that same hatchet job to his fighter’s dignity, Arum boasted about taking 20% of his upcoming purse for doing nothing. As Lopez’s promoter, Arum is entitled to just over $780,000 of the Brooklynite’s $3.9 million purse.
“We made a lot of money in five minutes. Almost $800,000 is pretty good money. Shit, that’s really great.”
Of course, that “really great” payday came at the expense of losing the right to broadcast his hottest young talent’s next fight. It came at the expense of losing the opportunity to build on Lopez’s growing star power following a hugely successful breakthrough win over Vasiliy Lomachenko that drew nearly 3 million viewers to ESPN.
But, in case you haven’t caught on by now, Bob Arum just doesn’t give a shit. He doesn’t care about the fans. He doesn’t care about the fighters. He doesn’t care about the sport. He doesn’t even seem to care about the future of his own company. He just wants to hustle and muscle short-game money into his pockets.
His attitude and continued belligerence is indicative of an old guard that was 100% about the hustle and con. And, while there’s still plenty of hustle and con these days, that level of old school sleaze is becoming increasingly ineffectual in producing bankable results. There are fewer stars with any hope of crossover appeal, the loyal fan base is dwindling, and the top fighters are smartening up to the fact that they don’t really need to be contractually bound to a promoter to make big money.
Arum’s old guard is the cause of a sickly present tense US boxing scene and a business model that is fundamentally self-destructive. They latched on to premium cable channels and lived off of easy broadcast deal payouts at the expense of actually trying to grow the sport. They took the short money and utterly disregarded boxing’s long-term health.
And Arum is still doing it. He carries himself like it’s 40-50 years ago, smugly disrespecting fans, fighters, and the sport itself because he feels like he’s all-important, that everything runs through him and, therefore, everyone needs to put up with his shit.
Except, it’s not 40-50 years ago and everything doesn’t run through him anymore. The man is delusional now. He’s the senile old codger walking around the neighborhood in his pajamas, acting like a tough guy and picking fights with the kids on the block, who would send him to the ICU if they so much as finger-poked him.
The man only has power because some fighters are slow to catch on and media is even slower to hold him accountable for his perpetual flow of bullshit and general disregard for boxing.
Arum needs to go away.