Boxing promoter Bob Arum doesn’t think the upcoming match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor is a referendum on boxing. (Isaac Lawrence / AFP)
Dana White has said veteran promoter Bob Arum “sucked the life out” of boxing.
The UFC president went further this week when asked why his own negotiation for Conor McGregor’s fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. went easier than Arum’s bitter, drawn-out effort for Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
“It just goes to show what an … Bob Arum is actually,” White said.
White wasn’t aware that minutes earlier, in an interview alongside new World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Jeff Horn, Arum took his own shot at the novelty boxing match that pits 49-0 Mayweather against UFC champion McGregor in his pro boxing debut.
“They should put McGregor in a four-round fight just to show him what [boxing’s] about,” said Arum, who promoted Mayweather fights until 2006. “That would be the end of McGregor.”
Instead of easing McGregor into a four-rounder typically given to beginning pros, the Nevada Athletic Commission is expected to officially sanction Mayweather-McGregor Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena as a championship-caliber, 12-round fight.
While Mayweather’s dominant, boring victory over former seven-division world-champion Pacquiao was blamed for decreasing interest in the sport — only one bout since has produced more than 1 million pay-per-view buys after 4.6 million paid $99.95 for Mayweather-Pacquiao — Arum said he doesn’t believe Mayweather-McGregor will inspire a backlash against boxing.
“Mayweather-McGregor will make a lot of money. The idea that if it’s good or bad for boxing is sort or irrelevant because … it really has nothing to do with boxing as it carries on,” Arum said. “It’s a spectacle, and people will either watch it or not. Nobody’s putting a gun to anybody’s head. If you want to buy the fight, pay $100. If you don’t, don’t.”
Mayweather and White have predicted the bout will surpass the revenue of the Pacquiao fight, which generated $600 million in sales. Mayweather and McGregor have engaged in entertaining, animated stops on a promotional tour that came to Staples Center on Tuesday, Toronto on Wednesday and arrives at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s a free market and … [the fight] should happen without people telling them not to do it, or saying whether it’s good for boxing or bad for boxing,” Arum said. “They’ve thrown it out there and a lot of people want to see it. Let them see it. But … do I think it’ll be a real fight? No, I don’t.”
Horn, who edged Pacquiao in a controversial unanimous-decision victory on July 1 in his home country of Australia, said Mayweather can only lose by badly underestimating McGregor, as many believe Pacquiao did with Horn.
“It should be an easy fight for Mayweather. It should be a boxing lesson,” Horn said. “Chances are, it’s a schooling.”
Mayweather agreed, saying he was further motivated to return to his typical intense training methods after watching “a schoolteacher beat Manny Pacquiao.”
Arum helped arrange the 1976 match between Muhammad Ali and Japanese professional wrestler Antonio Inoki, a disjointed affair that was ruled a draw.
“We went into that fight without having any rules at all,” Arum said. “There was one round where Inoki rolled on his back. One time, he stood up and Ali missed him with a punch by two feet and Inoki staggered back.
“He kicked and Ali’s leg started bleeding, affected his fight [later that year] against Ken Norton. [Ali’s] mind-set was the Japanese were putting up an enormous amount of money for the fight. He said, ‘Let’s do it, and Arum will figure out [the rest].’”