<
>

Arum working hard on Lomachenko-Walters card

Featherweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko could fight Nicholas Walters at junior lightweight in the spring. Getty Images

NEW YORK -- Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is on a bit of a mission to put on a doubleheader this spring featuring featherweight titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko and junior welterweight titleholder Viktor Postol in separate fights.

So far, he has had little success getting the green light from HBO, where he does all of his premium cable business. Although HBO has interest, the sports division is in a delicate budget balancing act and simply cannot do every fight, even though the card Arum is proposing is a potentially lucrative one -- Lomachenko against former featherweight titlist Nicholas Walters and Postol (28-0, 12 KOs) possibly against Adrian Granados (17-4-2, 12 KOs), who drilled Amir Imam in the eighth round in November in a big upset that knocked Imam out of a mandatory title shot against Postol.

Arum is undaunted and has said repeatedly that if HBO doesn’t want to do the card he has other options. He says Showtime -- where Arum has not done business in years -- has interest. Showtime has not addressed Arum’s particular card publicly other than to say that the network is open to doing business with any promoter, though nearly all of its business in recent years has been with fighters in the stable of manager/adviser Al Haymon.

Nonetheless, Arum is in New York this week promoting Saturday night’s Terence Crawford-Hank Lundy card at The Theater at Madison Square Garden (on HBO, of course) and had dinner on Wednesday night with Showtime chairman Matt Blank and Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza, where he pitched the card and the idea of doing business again.

Arum reminded a group of reporters at Friday’s Crawford-Lundy weigh-in that Top Rank has promoted numerous Showtime fights, including its first one 30 years ago next month. In addition, he talked about the deep stable of prospects Top Rank promotes and how good of a fit the group would be for Showtime’s prospect series “ShoBox.” He also lauded Gordon Hall, who oversees “ShoBox,” as a “good boxing guy” who “does a good job.”

Arum is convinced he will get HBO or Showtime to go forward with the Lomachenko/Postol card and told ESPN.com that he is planning it for April 30 in New York or Chicago, where Granados is from. Arum said he believes either city would work well because they both have strong Ukrainian communities, and Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Postol are both from Ukraine.

Before the weigh-in on Friday began, Carl Moretti, Top Rank’s vice president, approached Arum, cellphone in hand, and handed it to him. He said he had the “Axe Man” Walters on the phone. Arum had yet to talk directly with him about the fight, and this was his chance.

Arum spoke with Walters for a few minutes and outlined the date and possible sites, and they determined the weight, a hang-up because Walters had been stripped of his featherweight belt last summer on the eve of an HBO fight against Miguel Marriaga for failing to make weight. That derailed the plan to make the Lomachenko fight at the end of 2015.

Walters instead fought again in December at junior lightweight -- a ridiculous draw with Jason Sosa in a fight Walters thoroughly dominated -- but said he could still make featherweight. Nonetheless, he and Arum agreed that the fight with Lomachenko would be at junior lightweight.

“OK, don’t kill yourself to make 126 [pounds], and we’ll do it at 130,” Arum told Walters during the phone call.

Arum told ESPN.com that Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs) had already agreed to fight Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs) at featherweight or junior lightweight. Arum also said he had already gotten the WBO, whose title Lomachenko holds, to allow him to take a nontitle fight.

One thing that still needs to be addressed, however, is Arum's coming to an agreement with the fighters in both bouts on money, which is where the networks come in. He needs HBO or Showtime to back a card that probably would cost more than $1.5 million.

Arum, who has been in the boxing business for 50 years, has made more deals than he can remember and was confident this one would be added to the long list.

“We’ll get this done,” he said. “We’ll get this done.”