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Arum and King say HBO is ruining the sport

Steve Cofield
Boxing

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Working together to promote this weekend's Miguel Cotto vs. Ricardo Mayorga fight, Bob Arum and Don King are playing nice. Do they really love each other now? Probably not, but there is a mutual respect between the longtime promoters. They also have a common bond when it comes to HBO. They're frustration with the network borders on hatred.

When it comes to televising boxing and the pay-per-view business, the network is the industry leader, but the overall business has slowed and for some is sinking. Why is this happening? The veteran promoters say HBO Sports' leadership is killing the sport.

''They want to get rid of promoters like Bob and me. That's what this is about," King told the Star-Ledger's Jerry Izenberg. "They want to let advisers come to them with a fight and then they hire a promoter at an outrageous price who doesn't put anything into the promotion. no publicity."

Arum agreed that HBO's goal is to be the actual promoter.

"They (HBO Sports) want promoters whom they can tell when to fight and where to fight and control it. You don't make great fights that way. You can't be lazy and arrogant. You have to work like hell. So in this fight we are going to take this business and put it back in the hands of the promoters and the public where it belongs,'' said Arum.

Arum blames HBO Sports' Ross Greenburg and Kerry Davis.{ysp:more}

"What we are saying is not about HBO, the parent company. There are brilliant people running it. It's about HBO Sports and HBO Sports has trashed this sport," Arum said. "Don and I are fighting for survival. This fight is the first step. It will generate terrific excitement when they go toe-to-toe. "

Arum and King are working with Showtime for this bout and they've already seen the difference in terms of the collaborative effort.

"That's why this fight in on Showtime, which is owned by CBS, and the CBS-TV network will promote as will 160 of its radio stations. They gave us billboards in Times Square and Sunset Boulevard."

It looks like it's working. Take Las Vegas for example, there's been a much bigger premium put on drawing fans to the MGM Grand Garden Arena. HBO televised four Las Vegas fight cards from late November through February. Not one of the cards eclipsed 5,000 fans in  attendance. For this fight, there has been a much bigger advertising presence on television, radio and in the local newspapers. We'll see if it works. Cotto-Mayorga may not be the most technical, but it will be filled with action.

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