By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Bob Arum appreciates that HBO Sports executives saw the value in televising the “Boxing After Dark” tripleheader the premium-cable network will televise Saturday night from The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Arum’s promotional company, Top Rank Inc., has stakes in two of the three fights and Arum believes at least one of his fighters, undefeated featherweight contender Mikey Garcia, can become a star if he overcomes Orlando Salido in their 12-round fight for Salido’s WBO title. Not surprisingly, working with HBO on this card didn’t prevent the 81-year-old, combustible promoter from vehemently voicing his displeasure with another fight the network will televise — Bernard Hopkins versus Tavoris Cloud.
“These people are not doing a good service to boxing,” Arum said. “I mean, what are they doing a Hopkins fight for? Why? Why? It makes no sense at all. None. A 48-year-old guy, who isn’t the most exciting guy, he’s going to f*** around, f*** around, f*** around in a boring fight. What did they buy it for, when they’ve got all these young guys who can become stars?”
The 48-year-old Hopkins owns a small piece of Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, Top Rank’s rival. Showtime works almost exclusively with Golden Boy Promotions now that former Golden Boy lead counsel Stephen Espinoza is Showtime’s executive vice president of sports and event programming, but rival HBO will broadcast Hopkins-Cloud on March 9 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“Showtime didn’t even want to take that fight,” Arum continued. “You’ve got be out of your mind to take a Bernard Hopkins fight with Cloud, out of your mind to buy it when there’s so many good young fighters that can make matches like these fighters. Other promoters have [similar] fights. How do you spend your money on a Bernard Hopkins fight and think you’re helping your network and you’re helping boxing? No. That is inexcusable.
“Now, if you have an Adrien Broner fight and you put him in with [an overmatched opponent] like this Gavin Rees, well, OK. You’re building him up and so forth. At least he’s a young guy, probably very talented and you could argue that. Bernard Hopkins and Cloud, there’s no earthly way, unless you’re insane, that you buy that fight. There is no rationale behind it. They can’t answer. They can’t answer. They can’t answer. There’s no rhyme or reason why the networks are doing what they’re doing — either of them.”
Arum seemed equally annoyed that Showtime will televise a Paulie Malignaggi-Shane Mosley welterweight title fight April 27 from Barclays Center.
“Mosley is terrible,” Arum said. “What are they thinking about? Why are they doing that fight? What does that fight prove? What does that fight do? And New Yorkers aren’t stupid. They ain’t buying that sh*t, Malignaggi in with an old man who hasn’t won a fight in four years.”
In addition to the Salido-Garcia fight, HBO’s broadcast Saturday night will feature 12-round championship bouts that’ll pit WBA middleweight title-holder Gennady Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOs) against Gabriel Rosado (21-5, 13 KOs) and WBO super featherweight title-holder Rocky Martinez (26-1-1, 16 KOs) against Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1, 20 KOs).
“My rationale is that this is what boxing should be,” Arum said, referencing the tripleheader. “This is what they should be presenting [on HBO and Showtime]. These are the kinds of cards they should be presenting. Competitive matches with guys that have a chance to become superstars. That’s right. They’re on the right track, and then they go off and put a Bernard Hopkins fight on. That’s craziness.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.