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Bob Arum on ESPN lead-ins, Crawford’s big future, more

Michael Woods spoke with Bob Arum this week about the Top Rank and ESPN, Terence Crawford, and more.

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Manny Pacquiao & Jeff Horne Press Conference Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

High on your list of pet peeves, I’m guessing, is the beyond annoying propensity for ESPN to schedule programming to precede live boxing events which bleeds into the scheduled boxing slot.

Mine too. Right up there with empty pens at banks and post offices...

How many times over the years did we tune to ESPN for “Friday Night Fights” and were instead greeted with the fifth inning of a softball game?

Short answer: Too frickin’ often.

One would maybe think and hope that this being an enlightened age, that problem would be reduced over the years. But noooooo…

Seems like every time we turn to live boxing on ESPN, boxing is nowhere to be found. We find ourselves looking for a scroll on the bottom of the screen for insight. It happened again on September 22, on a Top Rank card topped by Oscar Valdez in the main event. Go to ESPN News, we were told, while we wrap up this ultimate frisbee match.

OK, no, it wasn’t ultimate frisbee. But it always seems like it’s something bleeding into boxing!

The frustration erupted in August, you’ll recall, when the NFL Hall of Fame entry show ran over. A half hour after the set start time for boxing, ESPN finally put boxing on, and on ESPN2, not ESPN. The ratings for the Vasyl Lomachenko v Miguel Marriaga show reflected that programming misstep.

I touched on this burr in my saddle with promoter Bob Arum, on this week’s TALKBOX.

Could he please talk to the ESPN bosses about putting taped programming on before boxing, so no run-overs occur?

“We’re on an all sports network,” Arum answered. “And sometimes, you’re on an all sports network, games go longer, you run over, but I’m grateful for the lead-ins! It’s better to have some lead-in with sports programming people are watching than to have a lead in with some damned entertainment series.

“Once in awhile, they’ll run over. And you’ll have to change from one channel to another, it’s not gonna happen that often, sometimes it will. For example, November 11 (topped by Jessie Magdaleno, Jose Ramirez and Artur Beterbiev) we’ll come on after an SEC football game. Now, there’s plenty of time for that game to happen, to be over but what happens if it goes into overtime? It’s live sports, man, it’s live sports, you live with it!”

Message: Get over it, there are other more pressing matters affecting the planet. Find your perspective compass, Woods.


ALSO: Arum finished up with a tantalizing tidbit. We’d touched on what might be next for Terence Crawford, who’d just been voted the top pound for pound boxer on the planet by the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Arum said he thinks Crawford fights next in February or March, probably against WBO welterweight titlist Jeff Horn, who will take a stay busy fight probably in December first.

“I’m just very bullish going ahead,” the 85 year old deal-maker told me. “Terence Crawford, after he fights Horn, hopefully wins that fight, we’re gonna look for guys like Keith Thurman, and maybe Danny Garcia. And ultimately I think there’s gonna be a big, big fight in a year from now, or maybe 18 months with Terence and Errol Spence, I think Spence is a terrific, terrific fighter and he and Crawford could make a major, major match down the road.”

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