By Keith Idec
Bob Arum’s acumen in peddling pay-per-view events essentially is unmatched in boxing.
Thus the 87-year-old promoter didn’t hesitate Tuesday to make his case for offering Terence Crawford-Amir Khan on pay-per-view April 20 from Madison Square Garden. When asked what makes their welterweight title fight worthy of that expensive platform, Arum broke down what necessitated taking Crawford-Khan to pay-per-view.
The bottom line, Arum explained during a conference call, is that this fight simply cost too much to make for ESPN to air it either live on the network or to offer it on ESPN+, the streaming service the basic-cable giant is building. Khan’s guarantee reportedly is at least $5 million, comparable to the combined earnings of Crawford’s seven previous opponents.
“It’s the matchup that warrants the pay-per-view,” Arum said. “It’s also because it’s such a big fight, that this is professional boxing, and the fighters have to be compensated because it’s such a big fight. And therefore, you cannot rely on a network to constantly come up with big, big money as a rights fee. So, if the fight is big enough, you have to then go to the public and say to the public, ‘Hey, this is a terrific fight. You have to support the fight.’ Now, sometimes the public says no. But if we have confidence in the event, they’ll say yes. So that’s really what it’s about.
“We can stop playing the games of whether a fight should be pay-per-view or shouldn’t be pay-per-view. The first question, is it a really good matchup, really an interesting event? And then, secondly, is it affordable on regular television? Can a rights fee support the fight? And in this case, we have a splendid event and we have fighters who have to be and should be compensated for their performances. And therefore, you go to pay-per-view. That is the mindset. Everything else is noise.”
Arum’s company, Top Rank Inc., initially intended for former WBA welterweight champ Luis Collazo to become Crawford’s next opponent. The 37-year-old Collazo (39-7, 20 KOs) signed a contract to challenge Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs), but Crawford wanted a fight that’d be more appealing to the paying public.
Top Rank offered former welterweight and junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs) a $4 million guarantee to face Crawford. Angel Garcia, Danny’s father/trainer, never responded to Top Rank’s offer.
That’s when Top Rank turned its attention to England’s Khan (33-4, 20 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.