Arum the optimist

July, 9, 2008
7/09/08
10:28
AM ET
Your weekly random thoughts ...

• Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told me the other day the Manny Pacquiao-David Diaz lightweight title bout did between 225,000 and 250,000 buys on HBO PPV. To put it nicely, Arum is ever the optimist. I asked industry folks who are far less prone to exaggeration than Arum and was told that the fight will be lucky to crack 200,000. Lucky. It just goes to show you that no matter how great Pacquiao is, without a known foil he can't do serious business on his own.

Pacquiao's pay-per-view fights with more established stars Erik Morales (a trilogy), Juan Manuel Marquez and Marco Antonio Barrera all did excellent business. But Diaz, as likeable as he is, was a huge underdog and had never been on HBO before being put into a major pay-per-view main event. Despite tireless efforts promoting the fight, doing interviews and making public appearances, Diaz was essentially an unknown, even though he held a title.

Now, Arum is talking up a November pay-per-view fight between Pacquiao and junior lightweight Edwin Valero, who is just as unknown as Diaz. Valero, who is from Venezuela and based in Japan, has appeared once on U.S. television (in a small pay-per-view in December). He does not speak English, so he won't come close to being able to approach Diaz's media relations effort and he has no particular fan base in America. If Arum goes through with his plans for Pacquiao-Valero, especially with such a glut of pay-per-view events on the fall schedule, the fight will be lucky to crack 150,000 buys. Lucky.

• Regarding Saturday's explosive Kendall Holt-Ricardo Torres fight, the one in which Holt got knocked down twice and then knocked Torres cold to win a junior welterweight title, all in 61 seconds, I have just one question: Since when were fireworks supposed to go off on July 5th?

• I know it's easy to forget, but Wladimir Klitschko defends his unified heavyweight titles in Germany on Saturday against mandatory challenger Tony Thompson. If you just yawned, I don't blame you. Are there any heavyweights to really get excited about these days? Anyway, if you are interested in the fight, at least we can thank HBO for making it available live at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT with a primetime replay at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

• Props to Showtime for agreeing to televise the heavyweight title bout between Samuel Peter and Vitali Klitschko in October. It's one of the modestly interesting heavyweight fights on the horizon. But with Vitali coming out of retirement, having not fought since 2004 and having pulled out of countless fights for a variety of injuries, I just hope Showtime has a Plan B in the seemingly inevitable event that Klitschko stubs his toe.

• There are only 17 days until Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito throw down. But who's counting?

• I'll believe it when I see it, but I absolutely love Arum's idea of a doubleheader featuring a junior bantamweight unification fight between Cristian Mijares and Fernando Montiel and Jorge Arce facing Nonito Donaire on the undercard, with the winners of each fight to meet. That is great stuff and the perfect card for Showtime or HBO's "Boxing After Dark."

• I couldn't believe that when HBO replayed the pay-per-view fight between Pacquiao and Diaz that it did not bother to show either fighters' postfight interview with Jim Lampley. Pacquiao had turned in a dominant and historical win that clinched his position as the pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter in the world. And Diaz's interview was one of the funniest, most honest I have ever seen, especially from a guy who had just been drilled. The telecast only ran 50 minutes. HBO couldn't have extended it by five minutes?

• Not long after Barrera lost his rematch with Pacquiao in October and announced his retirement, he said he wanted to fight again. Barrera, of course, is an all-time great fighter with championships in three divisions. But he's lost two in a row and is obviously no longer at the top of his game, or even close to it. So when Frank Warren offered Barrera and Golden Boy Promotions a $1.2 million package for Barrera to go to the United Kingdom for a shot at junior lightweight titlist Alex Arthur, it seemed like the perfect fight for Barrera to take if he was serious about a return. Yet, Barrera rejected it. That surprised me because where else is he going to get that kind of money for a fight these days, especially a title fight that has a legitimate chance to win?

• In awe, I watched the annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest from Coney Island, N.Y., on ESPN the other day. I watch it every year. In the much-anticipated rematch of last year's epic battle, Joey Chestnut retained the title by out-dogging six-time champ Takeru Kobayashi, who blamed last year's loss on a jaw injury. Apparently, competitive eaters make excuses just like boxers when they lose. But I digress. What happened this year was that Chestnut and Kobayashi were tied at the end of the 10-minute competition, having both disgustingly downed 59 wieners. Rather than a draw, they went to a five-dog eat-off. The guy who could scarf down five more dogs (and buns, of course) the fastest would win. In the end, Chestnut won by stuffing the final dog into his pie hole just ahead of Kobayashi. It got me thinking: How come in boxing, when there's a draw, they don't just go one more round and allow the judges to score it to see who wins?

• So, heavyweight Michael Grant is scheduled to fight an eight-rounder against Demetrice King on Friday night in Philadelphia. When I read the news release about the card, I could only think one thing: Why in the world is Grant still fighting? It's not that he's old (he's only 35) or been beaten up too many times. It's just that eight years ago, he was the hottest rising contender in the sport until Lennox Lewis smoked him in a championship fight. Now, he's just another journeyman going nowhere. It's sort of pathetic.

• Now that Joe Calzaghe is set to meet Roy Jones on Sept. 20 (the right fight for both guys) at New York's Madison Square Garden and Jones plans to put junior welterweight Dmitriy Salita, whom he is about to sign, on the undercard I like the idea of Salita fighting New York rival Edgar Santana. Both have aspirations to take their careers to a championship level, but neither has faced stiff competition. Santana is calling Salita out and it's a fight that was often discussed when they both promoted by Lou DiBella, but never happened. Now that there is a decent budget to make a pay-per-view undercard, money shouldn't be an issue. It's also a good regional rivalry, so I think it makes sense for the show. I'd like to see it as the TV opener on the HBO PPV card.

• Winky Wright, come out, come out, wherever you are!

• DVD pick of the week: Right now, the junior bantamweight division is one of the hottest in boxing with such quality fighters as unified titlist Mijares, beltholders Montiel and Dimitri Kirilov, and contenders Arce, Vic Darchinyan and Alexander Munoz, among several others. I've been really into the division lately. So I was in the mood for a classic 115-pound championship fight. What better way to take care of the jones than by watching the most important fight in the history of the division? To the archive I went, where I pulled out a fight that happened, coincidentally, 11 years ago this month. On July 18, 1997, bitter Albuquerque, N.M., crosstown rivals Johnny Tapia and Danny Romero met in Las Vegas in a major HBO-televised unification fight that put the division on the map. In an entertaining fight fought a very high skill level, Tapia was at his best. He outboxed Romero, the slugger, to take a unanimous decision that defined both of their careers.

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