By Michael Marley
With his 79th birthday looming large and with 40 years on top of the boxing promotion totem pole, Bob Arum does not need to run any marketing tests or poll fight fans as to who might be the most commercial next opponent for his cash cow, Manny Pacquiao.
Arum knows, from past financial bonanzas and a few flops here and there, what sells.
And he adheres to one cardinal rule for PPV TV boxing success.
“I don't worry about who the bloggers think is the best opponent,” Arum said by telephone from Las vegas Sunday night. “I really don't care the writers say or even what the hardcore boxing followers say when it comes to this. I know we need to pick the opponent who is the most familiar to to the casual sports fan, the casual boxing fan who cannot name all the fighters.
“I did not watch the (Juan Manuel) Marquez fight as I was at a dinner party here in town. One guy there asked who was fighting on TV and somebody said, 'Juan Manuel...' So the guy says to me, 'How come you're not there at the fight, isn't he one of your fighters?' Obviously, this guy didn't know the difference between Marquez and my guy, Juan Manuel Lopez, the kid from Puerto Rico.
“It's not about Marquez's boxing ability, blah, blah, blah, it is all about the marketing of the fight.”
If you're reading between the lines here, then either Arum is already angling to knock down the Mexican counterpuncher's asking price for the trilogy bout against Megamanny or he is, indeed, more inclined to make the April or May bout with American Sugar Shane Mosley.
“The truth is, Marquez is not even a big seller in the Mexican market, certainly nothing like (Erik) Morales, (Marco Antonio) Barrera were or even anywhere near as popular as (Nov. 13 Pacman foe Antonio) Margarito. Frankly, Marquez does not compare to any of the three. I don't know it is because they were more extroverted in personality or more balls out type fighters of what.”
In what is likely to become a familiar theme, Arum bangs the drum loudly for Mosley, who turned up at Cowboys Stadium to lobby for a Pacman bout along with new adviser, the Houston-based rap music mogul James Prince.
“In the U.S., Marquez can't compare with Shane. Mosley is a crossover guy, well liked and accepted by Latinos, by white and in the African American markets. When it comes to pay per view, Marquez is only a 'B side” guy. When he fought (Juan) Diaz, that fight did absolutely no business.
“Don't forget, Mosley beat Oscar (de la Hoya) twice and had a fight with (Floyd) Mayweather. Mosley has just been on the big stage for a long, long time and people know who he is,” Arum.
What did Arum say about other Pacman foe candidates? I thought you'd never ask.
SERGIO MARTINEZ: “It was, it remains stupidity. Manny is not giving away 25 pounds to this guy. Manny weighed 144 ½ pounds the day before the Margarito fight. So let's say Manny goes into the ring and weighs about 147-148 pounds while Martinez comes in weighing 175. Manny can have those kind of fights, sure, but not if you want him to stay around a while. Margarito hurt Manny in their fight.”
ANDRE BERTO: “I envision myself being able to sell him as an opponent but, right now, nobody knows who he is.”
FLOYD MAYWEATHER: Todd (DuBoef) tried to reach out to Floyd by phone but contact could not be made. I think Floyd is having another flirtation with (Don) King which is good for me.”