If you haven’t been overwhelmed by the quality of boxing programming HBO has offered this year, you’re certainly not the only one. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says he can’t even begin to wrap his head around the product HBO executive Peter Nelson has been putting together for his subscribers, and simply chalks it up to general inexperience and incompetence, telling RingTV:
“Look at his lineup of fights, what is he thinking?” Arum asked RingTV.com. “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 says the money that HBO is putting up for those fights could be better used for more significant bouts, and quips that the Saunders-Lemieux fight — which he admits is legit — is almost a good fight that HBO is putting on by accident.
Needless to say, Arum doesn’t think Nelson is doing a great job.
“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.”
As another example Arum specifically mentions HBO’s decision to run a Dec. 9th card (Salido-Roman) head-to-head against his own ESPN card headlined by Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux, which he believes will deservedly capture boxing fans’ attention.
“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 at it as being pathetic”
Arum says Nelson has an obligation to subscribers to put on the best shows possible and not to simply run half-ass cards as counter-programming. He admits that while he’s had many disagreements with network executives over the years — Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza in particular — he still at least considers him to be a competent executive, unlike Nelson, who he thinks is just wasting HBO’s budget on meaningless fights.
Does Arum have a point here?