Promoter Bob Arum is heading up the Sept. 15 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Sergio Martinez middleweight title fight promotion in Las Vegas. He was in town Thursday at a press conference to hype that scrap, and we chatted at the Edison Ballroom. The Brooklyn-born dealmaker had drawn flak in some quarters for well over a year, with some accusing him of orchestrating a ducking campaign, keeping the son of the Mexican legend Chavez from accepting a stiff test against Martinez, the man who gave up the WBC belt Junior holds today, because he didn't care to fight the mandatory defense against Sebastian Zbik. I asked Arum if we, the fight writers who believed and shared that "Arum and Chavez are ducking Martinez" theory owe him and Junior an apology. Because it turns out Arum seemingly did the wise thing, allowing the 26 year-old Junior to get more seasoned, and the 37 year-old Martinez to get more seasoned (cough cough), which is resulting in a bout which many pundits are assessing as a closer scrap than any would have thought a year ago.
So, Bob, do we owe you a mea culpa?
"That's up to you guys," he said. "But I wasn't going to put this kid in against Sergio before he was ready. If we had made the fight before, it would have been like leading the kid to slaughter."
Hey, Arum deserves some of the chops-busting he receives, I think, from those of us who wish he was less of a skilled capitalist -- that is a backwards compliment, by the way -- but in this case, I think Bob knew best, and exhibited the traits that have served him so well in six different decades of fight creation. I'd have to go back and check my archives, but I do think one or two times I may have wondered aloud why Chavez wasn't eager to show the world he wasn't just half-a-chip off the ole block, and test himself the best, in Martinez. So ... Bob, Junior, you were right, and I was wrong.