Middleweight contender Rob Brant (left) and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. Photo credit: Naoki Fukuda
The embarrassment of riches era in boxing continues this weekend, with action streaming on ESPN+, topped by a main event that has “Fight of the Year” potential written all over it.
OK, OK, that description comes from promoter Bob Arum, whose Top Rank is furnishing the Plus platform to Miguel Berchelt, promoted by Zanfer Promotions, and his rival for the evening, Miguel Roman, who is handled by Promociones del Pueblo.
The garrulous deal-maker chatted with RingTV on Tuesday and sounded jazzed for the main event, which will unfold in Beto O’Rourke territory, the Brooklyn-born Las Vegas resident told me. O’Rourke is going head to head against incumbent Ted Cruz for a Texas Senate seat and Arum has ordered up a boatload of buttons, which he’ll offer to anyone to wear, in support of the underdog who is narrowing the gap on the sitting Senator.
“Berchelt versus Roman is a really good fight. I really believe it’s a candidate for Fight of the Year, two pitbulls, two really good fighters who fight to the end, a really classic battle,” the 86-year-old stamina dynamo said. “You understand, we reached out; we don’t promote either of these guys. We wanted to secure it for ESPN+. We wanted to bring the best possible to Plus, competitive fights; this was one of them.
“People, a lot of writers misconstrue what we we do. They say we have our fighters fight our own guys. Rarely do we do that; we also look to make arrangements with other promoters to put their premium product on ESPN, like on February 2, with Sergey Kovalev vs. (WBO light heavyweight titlist) Eleider Alvarez (II).”
The promoter noted that he likes the undercard attractions, like the Miguel Marriaga vs. Jose Estrella featherweight battle. “Marriaga is really good; it’s a good fight, I love Marriaga; he gave hell to (WBO featherweight beltholder) Oscar Valdez. He was competitive with (current The Ring Magazine/WBA lightweight champion Vasiliy) Lomachenko.” Arum also touted a 3-0 guy fighting at Don Haskins Convention Center, a super middleweight from Kazahkstan named Janibek Alimkhanuly. “Every fight on the card will be shown on Plus.” Indeed, the stream starts at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT.
Arum noted that Plus broadcast the Kubrat Pulev vs. Hughie Fury heavyweight fight, last Saturday, and that fight fans are being graced with a bounty of fare, “People have to start giving us credit!”
The wizened fight packager said he’s talked to promoter Greg Cohen about what’s next for middleweight contender Rob Brant, who got the upset win, on October 20, over Ryota Murata on ESPN, “We’d like to have (Brant) on a future card. I’m sure we can make that arrangement. The best laid plans gone astray! No question, we thought Murata would win. We were talking to Tom Loeffler, Gennady Golovkin’s promoter, about bringing (Golovkin) to Japan. It would have been a huge fight but (Murata) ran into Brant, who turned out to be a tremendous fighter, very, very fast on his feet, the whole package. He’s a terrific fighter, a great young man, very articulate. It was a pleasure having him on the card, too bad for (Murata’s promoter) Mr. (Akihiko) Honda!”
As for other boxing business, Arum said he’ll not be into it if and when Manny Pacquiao rematches Floyd Mayweather Jr. “They’re looking to do that fight. Nobody is interested in it. I really couldn’t care less. They’re both great fighters, past their sell-by date. If people want to watch it, fine. I don’t have to watch it.”
Arum said he was watching the World Series on Saturday, instead of boxing on HBO. Ross Greenburg always told him it was no use going against Major League Baseball’s World Series, Arum said, though he heard that the Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko battle was a “terrific fight.”
He also looks forward to the year’s end, “I think we’re ending the year on a high note. After this November 3rd, we’re in Oklahoma City November 16. The (WBO) 140-pound champ Maurice Hooker and Alex Saucedo, a terrific fight. Then at Madison Square Garden Theater, we have ‘Loma’ and (WBO lightweight titleholder) Jose Pedraza, (WBO junior featherweight titlist) Isaac Dogboe versus Emanuel Navarrete and Teofimo Lopez (versus Mason Menard), a great night December 8, on ESPN.
“We close the year with two events: December 14 in Corpus Christi, a rematch, (WBO super middleweight beltholder Gilberto) ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez vs. Jesse Hart and Egidijus Kavaliauskas is on that card, a solid, solid card. We go to Manchester, England, December 22, Saturday afternoon on Plus. It’s Carl Frampton vs. Josh Warrington for (Warrington’s IBF) featherweight championship.”
We’ve heard that Top Rank has chatted with IBF/WBC lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia’s brother/trainer Robert, touching on the possibility of a Lomachenko versus Garcia fight. Has Arum heard about Mikey versus IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence Jr.? “I have no idea what Mikey will do. Robert really doesn’t talk for Mikey. We told Robert that if Mikey wants to fight Loma, if Loma succeeds December 8 against Pedraza, then sometime in April, we’d like to do Mikey and Loma. I think Robert is enthusiastic. I think Mikey keeps saying he wants Loma; we’ll see. I’m just glad that boxing is booming. I’m glad that (Golden Boy Promotions founder) Oscar (De La Hoya) found a home for (The Ring Magazine/WBA/WBC middleweight champion) Canelo (Alvarez) with DAZN; I think it’s good for Oscar to showcase other talent. That’s good; that’s something DAZN should have done from the beginning because Oscar understands the U.S. market better than (Matchroom Boxing Group Managing Director) Eddie Hearn. Hearn will probably learn but I don’t think he has any kind of idea. His November 17 card, there’s nothing wrong with Kansas but nobody gives a damn about that card.”
Yes indeed, Arum is still swingin’ and not shy about throwing the brushback pitch either against other promoters like Hearn. Eighty-six years, in age, and that how hard, in miles-per-hour, he still throws the high, hard one…
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