Bob Arum counts Vasiliy Lomachenko-Teofimo Lopez among the high-profile fights his promotional company won’t be able to put on if fans aren’t allowed to attend.
Arum’s Top Rank Inc. figures to make a significant amount of money from tickets sales to the card headlined by Lomachenko-Lopez. Removing that revenue stream from that equation would make it more difficult to pay Lomachenko and Lopez their desired purses for that lightweight title unification fight.
That potential problem could cause Arum to push back Lomachenko-Lopez even further once his company can schedule fights in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.
“It’s gonna be very hard to do a Loma-Lopez fight without spectators,” Arum told Top Rank’s Crystina Poncher during an interview that debuted on Top Rank’s YouTube channel Monday. “We’re not gonna be able to do a fight with Loma, in any event, until after the travel ban is lifted, since Loma, who was in the United States, went back to the Ukraine to be at home when everything got shut down.”
The 88-year-old Arum also discussed with Poncher the viability of staging lower-profile fights without fans in attendance once the U.S. government will allow it. That just isn’t an option for some expensive events, though.
“For a sport like boxing, for big events, where the gate money is so much a big percentage of the revenue,” Arum said, “I don’t see how you can do it without spectators.”
Neither Ukraine’s Lomachenko nor Brooklyn’s Lopez had signed contracts for their 135-pound championship unification match before the COVID-19 pandemic brought boxing to a standstill last month. They still were expected to fight for Lomachenko’s WBA and WBO titles and Lopez’s IBF belt May 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The 22-year-old Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) told BoxingScene.com recently that he doesn’t expect to box Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) until October or November. Lopez also stated during SiriusXM’s “The Ak and Barak Show” last week that he wouldn’t accept a fight against Lomachenko if it meant competing without fans inside the venue.
“That wouldn’t happen,” Lopez said. “I wouldn’t accept the fight if that was the case. … It ain’t the same without the fans.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.