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Bob Arum discusses Top Rank’s move into India

The Hall of Fame promoter talks about a potential new big market.

Terence Crawford v Jeff Horn Official Press Conference Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

All-time all-star Bob Arum came on the latest “Talkbox” podcast, powered by Everlast, and as per usual, brought his A-game mix of news and opinion.

One element that listeners found pretty compelling was his mention of signing fighters from India. He spoke on the signing of Vijender Singh (super middleweight, a three-time Olympian from India, 10-0, 7 KOs, age 33) and Vikas Krishan (Olympian in 2012 and 2016, scheduled to make his professional debut on Jan. 18, 2019 at the Turning Stone Resort Casino, age 26, managed by David McWater).

Of him, the never hyperbolic Arum said, “He is going to be our Indian Marvelous Marvin Hagler!”

The deal-maker noted that he’s hopeful that Top Rank can benefit from the massive population in India, and that their hookup with ESPN will help. Disney owns ESPN and Disney has assets in India, such as Star TV, which they acquired from FOX. It’s like Sky Sports in the UK, Bob said.

“With that platform we hope to educate the Indian population on the sport of boxing, and use the platform to popularize these two Indian kids more than they are now, and build the market in India,” Arum told us.

Will India be better than China?

“China didn’t work. You couldn’t sell tickets in China, you had government people constantly interfering, the government people kept constantly demanding free tickets to fights, and so forth. It was always problems in China, which hopefully we won’t encounter in India. It’s risk-reward, it’s a very small risk we take going over to India and trying it, and the rewards can be huge, it’s the most populated nation in the world.”

You might recall Top Rank had high hopes for Olympian Zou Shiming. He fought in Macau seven times, and in Shanghai twice.

Trained by Freddie Roach, he progressed some but last fought in July 2017 and is maybe done with the sport, because of an eye injury. He went it alone in his last outing, and it didn’t go swimmingly, sans Top Rank and Roach, for the record.

Arum wanted to build him as an attraction, but if people want freebies, it’s hard to get good bang at the box office in his home land. And TV dates there, for scraps and for a magazine-type show, that isn’t as alluring if there isn’t a big base of Chinese talent to tout. So, the promoter did it, tried it, saw it play out, and then moves on to another bet, not throwing good money after bad.

This is a good look at how successful business people go about it.

Listen to the whole podcast here.

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