Bob Arum has been slammed by UFC's Dana White for not investing in the future of boxing, and for jealousy toward UFC. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
With Bob Arum having recently shrugged off/joked his way through comments about the UFC's debut on Fox on November 12, where they'll go head-to-head against the first hour of the Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view card, there has been plenty of talk about the different business models, about the way the two sports are promoted, and about their crossover -- or lack thereof -- and how that impacts the sports.
But Arum also said that he didn't care about the UFC, and wasn't worried about them. Speaking to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, UFC's Dana White decided he'd argue that stance, and says that Todd duBuoef "went crazy," and referred to Arum's son-in-law as "Todd Arum." duBoef is friends with Lawrence Epstein, the executive VP of Zuffa, the company that owns UFC, so White may indeed have this information and not just be talking.
"Let me tell you what: Todd Arum went crazy when he found out that we were going the same night as them," White told Yahoo! Sports. "He went crazy and called everyone in the industry flipping out. And Bob Arum is a jealous moron. Bob Arum had the ability to do great things for the sport of boxing. I don’t know if he wasn’t smart enough to do what we did or whatever, but when we first came out with this thing, this guy laughed at us. He said how stupid the Fertittas were and that this thing was ridiculous and it would never be a sport.
"Now, all he does is run around [expletive] and complaining about it. You had the ability, Bob Arum, to make boxing great. But the problem was, you were greedy. You’re a greedy pig, just like all the other guys who were involved in boxing. All you ever did was try to rip money out of it. You never invested a dime into the sport of boxing to make it great, to make it last, to create a future for boxing. He’s nothing but a greedy pig and his jealousy shows non-stop."
The truth is, I don't think there are many out there who would totally disagree with Dana White's stance here. He is, to be 100% honest, a far better promoter than anyone currently working in boxing. That's my opinion -- you may share it, you may not, but I don't think one key thing is disputable, and that's that UFC and Dana White and the Fertittas are far better tapped into modern culture than boxing promoters are. Which is why UFC is going to Fox, because they actually have the advertisers that are coveted by networks for prime time programming. Boxing does not have those advertisers, and they don't reach that demographic.
Is White harsh here? Sure. Is it deserved? Arguably it is. Maybe you think it's not, but I think Dana White -- and I'm not the world's biggest fan of Dana White and his verbal diarrhea, but I do think he's a terrific promoter -- is fairly well on the money here.
More question-talking: Does Bob Arum invest and risk money? Of course he does. But has he helped grow the sport any in recent years? Has anyone in boxing really tried to grow the sport? I don't think you can say that they really have. I don't think that, with the way they've operated the last 20+ years, they even really have the chance with the way they currently do business. The way they do business has to change. Not because they can't co-exist with UFC forever, because they can. But because boxing can't stay stagnant forever. Eventually it's either going to get better or get worse, and when you compare TV ratings from even eight years ago to what they are now, it's alarming how far the sport of boxing has dropped in terms of public appeal in the United States. That they've stabilized recently is nice, but it just means the ship isn't leaking anymore. Now it's time to get the water out of there.
Now, I don't know that Arum is jealous of UFC. If anything, again, I don't think he gets it, and it may be more of a fear of the unknown sort of thing. I'm not making an age joke here, but Bob Arum is 79 years old. How many 79-year-old guys who have been involved in boxing for decades upon decades do you think really understand what UFC is doing, or see it as something viable that could at least in part be applied to their own business? The UFC model is almost nothing like boxing except that they promote legitimate fights, fights that don't resemble boxing, and the biggest revenues come from pay-per-view. Otherwise, Dana White and UFC have really done things opposite of the way boxing promoters have done them.
“The problemgot into is they became defenders of the status quo,” Arum said. “They held you back because they had control.”
The status quo in boxing has been in place for years, and it's not just HBO at fault. While boxing promoters have continued on with the same old tactics that have driven away millions of viewers, UFC has come along and aggressively and steadily made headway toward mainstream acceptance and a true breakthrough for a combat sport in the States.
As a boxing fan, I will say that in some ways I'm jealous of what MMA-first fans have as a product. The MMA game itself will never overtake boxing in my personal world. I will always be a boxing fan first, because I like the sport of boxing better. But to think that boxing promoters are on level with Dana White right now is, in my mind, just silly. They're behind the curve, and even the ones who will admit that (Lou DiBella, for instance) are not doing much to actually change their business.