By Karl Freitag
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
“I really think that great, great years are again coming for boxing in this decade,” said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum today in Los Angeles. “[There’s] a lot of interest in the sport. We have the prime fighter in the world who has taken the sport to another level where he’s written about outside of the sports pages, where people all over the world know him, where people are taking about the fact that he may be the future president of his country….so that’s elevating boxing and all of these fighters are going to benefit, everyone in boxing is going to be benefiting from the notoriety that Manny Pacquiao has brought to the sport.”
“People say that boxing’s in trouble because it only drew 5,000 people. Well they don’t have the background to realize that in the ’80s when boxing was on terrestrial television, that we used to put these fights on at Caesars Pavillion which had 4,200 seats. We sold out most of the good fights, but again we’re talking about 4,000 people. So now when you do 5,000 it’s not bad, it’s good! The problem is that these buildings are so big, so now we’re shrinking it down to 6,000, everybody will have a great, great seat, and we expect to sell all of the seats because boxing, not matter what anybody says, is popular, it’s more popular than it’s been in years, and it will be even more popular still if we can showcase great fights like we’ll be doing on February 19th.
“Back, I guess it was in the late ’70s, we did a show at Caesars Palace. Sugar Ray Leonard, undefeated, challenged for the welterweight title against the undefeated champion Wilfred Benitez. The undercard was a middleweight championship bout between Vito Antuofermo and Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who wasn’t yet marvelous. They didn’t use the name “Marvelous” then. And that show was also in the Pavillion at Caesars Palace which had 4,200 people….Boxing now with big venues and a lot of interest is as popular, if not more more so, as it was then.”