Earlier this year, Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum parted ways with HBO and signed an exclusive multi-year content agreement with ESPN.
In various interviews, Arum has been very critical with the type of programming to hit HBO's airwaves in 2017.
And who's to blame? Arum believes the cause of HBO's issues, when it comes to their boxing content, is the head of HBO Sports Peter Nelson, who was elevated to that position in December 2015 - following the departure of Ken Hershman.
Arum spoke to Mike "Easy Work" Coppinger of Ringtv.com and explained why he's so unsatisfied with the current state of HBO's boxing content.
“Look at his lineup of fights, what is he thinking? He has (Sergey) Kovalev against a guy nobody ever heard of (Vyacheslav Shabranskyy) and he has Cotto against a guy Jessie Vargas, who isn’t the biggest puncher in the world, just knocked out (Sadam Ali)," Arum told Coppinger.
“That’s money they can use to put on really good fights. On December 16, he has an interesting fight (Billy Joe Saunders-David Lemieux), I think that’s a good fight. No one is arguing with that. It’s almost like that was an accident. Hey, we got a good fight. Hey, we made a mistake.”
Arum explained that he believes Stephen Espinoza, who handles the boxing programming for Showtime, is a competent executive.
He doesn't share the same opinion when it comes to Nelson.
“I just think he’s not competent,” Arum continued. “They need professional people over at HBO. It’s a great network, they have great entertainment, but they have a guy who is running their sports department who has no experience and who is an amateur. He’s the kind of guy who thinks he’s smarter than everybody else."
What really fueled Arum's fury, was Nelson's decision to go head to head with his highly anticipated fight on December 9, when Olympic champions Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux collide in New York City, in an ESPN televised main event. HBO will televise a tripleheader that night, with Orlando Salido battling Miguel Roman in the main event.
“The guy who’s the head of HBO Sports has really very, very little experience doing it,” Arum expressed. “I’ve had a lot of disagreements, for example, with (Showtime’s) Stephen Espinoza, but I consider him to be a very competent executive. Now, anybody who’s a competent executive, in my opinion, doesn’t waste money on a show like they’re planning to do on December 9 to put it up against a fight that every boxing fan wants to watch.
“Why would you do that? Why in heavens would they do that? What is the reason for it? I can’t figure it out. I look it as being pathetic."