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Arum explains importance of getting boxing on free TV

Bob Arum nearly explodes when talking about his plans to bring boxing back to mainstream television.

Top Rank promoter, amidst talking about potential fights for Vasyl Lomachenko, goes off about why he’s not interested in bringing his big name fighters to premium subscription television channels at this point.

“There’s only one television company that makes any sense at all and that’s ESPN because it reaches the largest possible audience.”

On Lomachenko possibly facing Orlando Salido again:

“Salido, again, it would be wonderful to put Salido in with Lomachenko. But again, money doesn’t grow on trees. He’s gotta fight for a reasonable purse.”

On the trouble finding top opponents for Lomachenko:

“They want more money than Lomachenko makes!...I’m not gonna pay money just because they’re looking for a payday.

“Anybody who wants to fight Lomachenko, if they ask for a reasonable amount of money, which is probably more than they’ve gotten for any fight, then we’ll sit down and talk with them. But don’t tell me you want to fight Lomachenko and then ask me for a crazy amount of money! The money doesn’t grow on trees, even ESPN doesn’t make money of trees.

“Lomachenko, we’re gonna see maybe Salido, maybe Rigondeaux, maybe somebody like that. Again, we’re open to everybody, but it gotta be a reasonable amount of money.”

On what if a network like Showtime was willing to put up some money:

“We’re not going to entertain a fight on Showtime because I’m not gonna do a fight with Lomachenko where even at best we’re talking about less than a million people watching.

“You understand, there’s a big, big difference. We’re trying to build the sport of boxing. When a fight is on ESPN, a big fight, not only do millions of people watch it at home, but every bar has the fight — ‘cause every bar has ESPN. So millions of people watch it in restaurants and bars.

“If the fight is on Showtime or HBO the audience at home is limited because they have a limited audience compared to ESPN, and nobody can watch it in bars unless the bar wants to pay crazy money to show the fight. I’m interested in building boxing! Building boxing so it’s like professional football or professional basketball — where millions of people get the opportunity to watch without going broke! Millions of people can watch it for free! Free is free! And the only way you’re going to build boxing back up is to magnify your audience, get it as big as possible, let them see what the insiders see — how interesting these fighters are, how interesting the fights are, and you build a fan base.

“Otherwise we’ll be in the same shit position we’ve been in for the last 10 years. Where boxing everybody says is dying, it’s a niche sport — that is bullshit! Boxing is a very exciting sport, it’s a sport that can recapture the public interest, and that’s what we’re doing. You have to understand what we’re trying to build here! It’s not about ‘hey, he’s gonna fight on Showtime, he’s gonna do this.’ Screw that! We want to have these fights with the biggest possible audiences so that the kids who are turning pro in four years have a real sport that they can join. Not the shit that we’ve had in the last 10 years — that I’ve been part of, like we all have been part of.

“So I’m not saying I’m better or different from anybody else, I sucked at the same tit!

“Compensation is shit if you’re building interest in a sport. I can put a fight on pay-per-view and charge $50-$60 and have 100,000 people watch it and make more money than putting it on free television. But what am I building? I’m building nothing!”

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