By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Bob Arum claims he is less concerned than ever about another fight taking place the same night in Las Vegas as the middleweight championship showdown between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez.
The 80-year-old promoter welcomed the competition once he found out another emerging Mexican star, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, will oppose Josesito Lopez in a Showtime Championship Boxing main event Sept. 15 at MGM Grand.
“The other scheduled show going on at the same time only helps,” Arum said Thursday before a press conference at The Edison Ballroom that was part of the Chavez-Martinez promotional tour. “And the reason it helps is because it’s not a serious fight. It’s a fight that will be 10-1, 15-1, if not off the books in Vegas. It’s not really a competitive fight at all. If [Alvarez] had been fighting Paul Williams, or if he had been fighting [James] Kirkland, I wouldn’t be saying that. Then it would be a serious fight. Alvarez against Lopez is not a serious fight. It’s somebody who doesn’t know boxing [who] puts something like that on, tries with [B.S.] to make it serious. It isn’t. It just isn’t.”
Arum, whose infamous feud with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions is at the root of the competing companies staging simultaneous shows, was particularly critical of the Alvarez-Lopez bout because Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs, 1 NC) has never weighed more than 144¾ pounds for a professional fight. The Riverside, Calif., native’s fight against Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs) will be contested at the junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds, for Alvarez’s WBC super welterweight title.
“He’s a junior welterweight,” Arum said of Lopez, who upset former welterweight champ Victor Ortiz on June 23 in Los Angeles to sabotage a scheduled Alvarez-Ortiz fight. “It’s not a competitive fight. Even if [Alvarez] fought a guy like [IBF 154-pound champion Cornelius] Bundrage or our guy, Vanes [Martirosyan], or even [WBA 154-pound champion Austin] Trout, then I couldn’t say that. It’s not a great fight, I would say, but it’s a serious fight. … This is not a serious fight. This is like children putting on something to spite another child, who is sitting at the table with a tasty treat, you know?
“I mean, Chavez-Martinez is, by far and away, the biggest fight of the year so far. There’s no argument. It’s bigger than Pacquiao and Bradley, because everybody figured that Pacquiao and Bradley wasn’t that competitive and the odds reflected that. But this is a competitive fight that has been building for a long time. And it’s reflected in the fact that we [opened] ticket sales [Thursday] at noon Vegas time, but we sold thousands of tickets in advance.”
Despite that Chavez and Alvarez supporters will be forced to choose which card to attend on Mexican Independence Day weekend, Arum remains confident that by keeping tickets priced pretty reasonably ($25-$600) that the fight his company, Top Rank Inc., is promoting will at least come close to filling UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center. All tickets for seats in the Thomas & Mack’s upper bowl cost $25, $50 or $75 for an HBO Pay-Per-View card headlined by the main event between Mexico’s Chavez (46-0-1, 32 KOs) and Argentina’s Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs).
Arum cited “ego” when asked why he thinks Golden Boy Promotions went forward with its Sept. 15 promotion, despite that Alvarez’s fights against Kirkland, Williams and Victor Ortiz fell apart for various reasons.
“It’s not a fight,” Arum reiterated. “If he was fighting Paul Williams or he was fighting Kirkland, I wouldn’t say that because that’s a fight. But this is a joke. And we know, internally, the MGM Grand [management team] is very, very upset. They made a commitment [to Golden Boy Promotions], which they shouldn’t have, and we then made a deal with Thomas & Mack.
“But they are very, very upset because they’re telling their customers, ‘Come. We’ve got this fight on Mexican Independence Day.’ And their customers are saying, ‘We want you to get us tickets for the Martinez-Chavez fight.’ So they’re going to have to buy tickets from us for Thomas & Mack.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.