Saturday night at the Madison Square Garden Theater, the promoter Bob Arum was in his typical mode, that is to say, he was hyping up his guys, burnishing and massaging and accentuating the positives while cruising clear of negatives. Best in the business, over the long term, he turned 86 on Friday and showed that his skills in the art and science of promotion are still A-grade.
“Terence Crawford is a sensational fighter, this guy (Vasyl Lomachenko) is super human,” said the Brooklyn born dealmaker who makes Vegas his homeland now, ringside, after Loma made Rigo cash out.
“Listen, you guys cover boxing, when have you ever seen anything like this? Let’s be honest about this, Rigondeaux was not a ham-and-egger. Rigo was one of the great fighters, amateur and professional. Yeah, he stunk out an opponent, but nobody came close to beating him
“He fought a guy like Nonito Donaire, and destroyed Donaire. Donaire wasn’t a ham-and-egger, he was a helluva fighter. But with Rigo, he was nothing. Now Rigo goes in with Loma and he was totally bewildered. There’s something really, really spectacular.”
I followed up...
Does Arum think Loma is, right now, the most unbeatable fighter he’s ever had? “I think he’s the most unbeatable fighter that I’ve ever had. The only one that was different was Ali, before the 3 1/2 years (away from active boxing because of his refusal to be drafted into the US military machine). Ali was unbeatable, unbeatable. Ali was incredible. We used to have bets how many punches Ali would get hit with, and usually the guys who bet single digits would win.”
Arum also said Rigo’s no mas didn’t surprise him. Nicholas Walters quit, Jason Sosa quit, and Loma just plain does that, takes portions of their heart, brain, spirit, soul, ego, and they want to change the subject, hit the eject button.
Did he think it would like this, Rigo winning MAYBE one round? Yes, Arum said — and it will be this way against anybody and everybody, basically.
“With anybody, and any 135 pounder. Nobody’s going the distance with this guy. You have to get a real ballsy 130 pounder, a guy who wants to get a nice paycheck,” he said, when I asked if maybe Loma had graduated out of 130 quicker than expected. “Who’s gonna beat this guy?? C’mon! This is really, really special.
“I would put him in with anybody 135 pounds,” said Arum, when asked if he’d do a Loma versus Mikey Garcia bout. (Mikey and Top Rank parted ways with anger in the air.)
Garcia and Jorge Linares are great fighters, Arum said, but he thinks both those guys would admit that Loma would be too beastly for them. (OK, he was in PROMOTER mode at that moment.) Mikey could hang with him, but then “probably quit,” the promoter said.
“You’re not dealing with a regular fighter,” Arum said. “You’re dealing with a guy who’s almost like a scientist.”
“Where did he hurt his hand, in the dressing room?” said Arum, when asked if he doubted the veracity of the assertion that Rigo’s left hand was maybe fractured and had him unable to start round seven.
The promoter again lauded ESPN for showcasing this talent, and said the premium cablers can’t compete.
“Their lead ins are Little House on the Prairie and shit like that,” he said, and the media gaggle chuckled. “No, it’s true, they’re an entertainment network.” (OK, Little House is not ever on HBO or SHO, for the record. Hallmark channel, yes.)
Arum said he wants Loma to rest up, and he thinks the Ukrainian will be back in March or April.
Also, Arum said that if Loma goes to 135, maybe he would make Oscar Valdez versus Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz for the vacant crown. (Diaz conjured heavy duty buzz at MSG, as much as anyone other than Loma. Jersey guy Shakur Stevenson also impressed and showed himself to not be on a parallel track to Mick Conlan, but in fact to be out ahead of the Irishman, with his impressive hand speed, combo tossing and his desire to snag stoppages.)
Arum was, as ever, stirring the pot, two even. He said it was no big damn deal that someone from Pacman’s team reached out to Conor McGregor’s crew about fighting.
“It’s old news!” Yes, he would promote that, for Manny, but would warn all buyers that “guess what…it’s not a fucking fight, if you want a spectacle, you can watch it. One thing you can be sure of, Manny wouldn’t carry the guy like the other guy did.”
Arum also said he welcomes UFC honcho Dana White to the boxing promotion pool. Because that would mean that boxing has proven that boxing is “not an old man’s sport. Our demos are young. When it’s free, a lot of kids don’t have premium television because they can’t afford $15 a month, so when we have a level paying field we beat the pants off them, not just overall rating, but the demos that everyone is looking for.”
He repeated, boxing is not just consumed by old men. “It turns out in the light of day to be total bullshit,” he said.
And does he see White working with other promoters? “Who gives a shit about White, he’s a piece of crap!”
But you just said you welcome him to the sport!
“Yes, because then it’s an acknowledgement how strong boxing is. He has a UFC that’s cratering, and he needs boxing to save himself!”
My three cents: People haven’t started saying they think Loma is GOAT, the best of all time…but I think that’s coming, and soon.
I did hear many folks saying that he does it in a way that they’ve never seen. The getting of absurd angles, the graceful and unexpectedly seamless movement…his form is atypical and exceptional. On Saturday, he pulled even or passed Terence Crawford on many BWAA P4P lists. He became an almost star, I think, and word has seeped into the minds of more casuals and I guarantee the buzz for his next one will be a notch heavier.
No, it won’t be an easy sell, being that his skills are other-worldly and his superiority is so severe that his bouts will always lack drama, because he is on another plateau. With everyone. Until proven otherwise. We might, in fact, have to look to 2019, after Loma has made carnage of 135, and he leaps to 147, and fights…wait for it….Crawford.
Loma might tell you that is too far a bridge, and maybe it is, maybe his body isn’t suited for welter. But right now, we have a deal like we did with Floyd Mayweather…you have to look “too far” out of his comfort zone to find people who can hang with him.
Your thoughts, readers? At what weight does Loma top out at? Would Garcia really not be able to hang with him? Is Loma the most unbeatable boxer on planet earth right now?
Talk to me, and follow me on Twitter at @Woodsy1069 to continue the discussion.