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Bob Arum says pay-per-view piracy a big hurdle in making fights like Errol Spence vs Terence Crawford

The Top Rank promoter leverages his experience to explain why it’s taking so long to finalize Spence vs Crawford.

Bob Arum says it’s difficult for promoters to pay these fighters their asking price given the state of PPV sales.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum might not be directly involved in any negotiations to stage an undisputed welterweight title unification between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence, but there may not be anyone with more experience in putting on big fights like this. So from the outside looking in, Arum shares his perspective on why a Spence vs Crawford fight has been taking so long to finalize.

“(Spence vs Crawford) is a big fight, it has tremendous interest from people who follow boxing,” Arum said. “But that doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue from PPV, which is the biggest source, because of the piracy. And the fighters realize how big a fight it is and they want to get paid big amounts of money, and the promoter — in this case PBC — has to look at it and say ‘hey, we’ll put it on, we’ll give you nice guarantees, but you got to really live from the upside,’ which the fighters realize now will not develop — will probably not develop.

“So, again, unless somebody wants to subsidize that fight I don’t know how it gets done.”

On how the US boxing market can get over the hurdle of being dependent on PPV sales

“One solution might be — and if you pay big guarantees to the fighters, you can’t crap around with experiments — but you look at our friends in the UK who still do very robust numbers on PPV, and you say ‘why?’ Is it because the English fans are so honest that they won’t tap into a stream, or is it because it’s a much smaller cost to get the PPV in the UK, 20 pounds, or 25 pounds for a really big fight. And people then don’t bother to steal the signal, they are willing to pay the freight. But if you start as we do here, you have $80 PPV, that’s a whole different exercise.

“The problem is that it’s a theory. If we drop the cost of the PPV down to $20 or $25 would people then forego pirating the signal and pay that money to watch the fight legitimately. And then how do you then experiment because if you’re wrong, for example, if you figured at the high price to get 250,000 buys at $80 and now you go to $25 on a big fight, who’s to say you don’t stay at 250,000? The inclination is to say you’d reduce the piracy in that way, but again ,to put your hard-earned money on the hope, that’s not a good business decision.”