Bob Arum, the 76-year-old Hall of Fame boxing promoter, flew to New York on Saturday with the hope of landing a deal for middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik to defend his belt in June against John Duddy.
Not only did Arum not land the highly popular but equally flawed Duddy, but he also almost wound up in handcuffs.
"This kind of stuff only happens to me," Arum said, chortling.
Arum had five $600 tickets he was going to use for Saturday's fight card at Madison Square Garden, whose main event featured Wladimir Klitschko unifying the IBF and WBO heavyweight titles by scoring a somnolent decision over Sultan Ibragimov.
He was using one and Pavlik's co-manager, Cameron Dunkin, was using the other. But Arum wound up with three extra tickets, which he had received from HBO, when Pavlik, WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto and another fighter were unable to attend.
Arum said as he and Dunkin were walking into the arena, a man standing on the street corner asked him if he had any extra tickets. Arum pulled out the tickets and offered the guy a deal.
"These were three $600 seats in a great place, so I told him I'd let him have all three for (a total of) $1,000," Arum said.
There was only one problem: As Arum was about to make the deal, a New York City police officer noticed and intervened.
"He came over and said, 'You know, you can't do that because that's scalping,' " Arum said. "And I said, 'How can it be scalping when I'm selling them for so much less than face value?' So I put the things in my pocket and I walked away."
That, though, wasn't the end of it. Arum walked away, thinking the incident was over.
The officer wanted to discuss it more. But he was behind Arum and to Arum's left. Arum is deaf in his left ear and didn't hear the officer tell him to stop.
The police officer caught up with Arum and scolded him briefly, before letting him leave and go watch the fights.
That was only part of Arum's eventful night. Duddy won a majority decision over Walid Smichet in a bout that many at ringside felt he was fortunate to win. But Duddy may have lucked out in the long run because he was badly cut and won't be able to fight Pavlik in the Garden on June 7.
Duddy looked horrendous and was hit cleanly on the chin repeatedly by Smichet. Had that been Pavlik hitting him like that, Duddy may have wound up hospitalized.
Arum said Pavlik still will fight on June 7, but the bout will move to Atlantic City, N.J. The leading candidates to face him are Giovanni Lorenzo, Marco Antonio Rubio and Randy Griffin.
Arum said he hoped to be able to pair Duddy and Pavlik later in the year.
He said Pavlik's rematch victory over Jermain Taylor did approximately 250,000 pay-per-view units, a disappointing number given that HBO Pay-Per-View officials were speculating the day before the fight that it could do anywhere from 350,000 to 415,000.
Arum blamed the results on Taylor adviser Al Haymon, whom Arum said should have advised Taylor to take an interim fight. Pavlik knocked out Taylor in the seventh round to win the titles in September but was contractually obligated to give Taylor an immediate rematch if Taylor wanted it.
Arum wanted Pavlik and Taylor to take interim fights on the same card so that Taylor could be rehabilitated in the eyes of the fans. He said by taking the immediate rematch made it difficult to sell Taylor.
"They got what they deserved," Arum said of HBO executives. "They keep dealing with a guy (Haymon) who doesn't have a manager's license. He's a so-called adviser. We begged them: Let's do a tune-up fight (with) both guys on (the same card) and then we'd go in together.
"You don't have a fight where one guy gets knocked out on regular HBO and then come back on pay-per-view and ask people to buy it. You don't do that."
Arum went on to blast Haymon for not convincing Taylor of the merits of an interim fight and HBO executives for helping to make Haymon one of the game's most powerful men.
"HBO continues to empower a guy who has no license and who is the adviser to the stars and keeps (expletive) up the boxing business," Arum said.
Kery Davis, HBO's senior vice president of sports programming, declined comment on Arum's tirade. Haymon, who rarely speaks to the media, couldn't be reached for comment on Tuesday.
But Dunkin defended Haymon, saying he had spoken with Haymon and that while Haymon understood it was better to go with a tune-up fight first, Taylor insisted on the immediate rematch and he was forced to respect his client's wishes.
With that, it's on to the weekly mailbag. My answers appear in italics. Please remember, if you want to participate in the Yahoo! Sports' readers poll of the all-time top 10 heavyweights, please send me an email or click the link at the bottom of this column.
I only saw about four rounds of the Klitschko-Ibragimov fight on Saturday because it was so boring. Klitschko is a joke. He is an example of what is wrong with the heavyweight division.
Klitschko fights far too much of a safety-first style to be a popular heavyweight champion. He did what he had to do to win, but in many ways, he lost with the way he performed Saturday. A guy like Larry Holmes or George Foreman would have realized Ibragimov couldn't hurt him and would have punished Ibragimov until stopping him. Klitschko kept grabbing Ibragimov at the first sign of any offense from him as a means of protecting his vulnerable chin. Klitschko has extraordinary physical gifts, but I'm beginning to doubt whether he'll ever harness them.
HIGH ON LINARES
What do you think about up-and-coming Jorge Linares? How long before you think he is ready for a title shot at the featherweight division? I've read that he will not fight southpaw fighters. What do you think of his fighting? And do you know when he will be fighting again?
I think Linares already is probably at worst the second-best featherweight in the world and soon will develop into a superstar. He's a great boxer who's only going to punch harder as he physically matures. He's going to be one of the sport's elite fighters for the next decade or so. I expect he'll fight on the Oscar De La Hoya-Steve Forbes undercard on May 3 in Carson, Calif.
TAYLOR'S NEXT OPPONENT
Now that Jermain Taylor realizes that his wins against Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright were actually gifts – wait, he doesn't realize it. He is moving up a weight class. He is going to try and match up against Joe Calzaghe, Jeff Lacy, Mikkel Kessler and, dare I say, Winky Wright. He would be destroyed by the first three fighters. I hope he gets a rematch with Winky. Give ole' Wink a chance! Maybe he can get him at a catch weight of 164 pounds.
Taylor does plan a move to super middleweight, but his most likely next two opponents are Roy Jones Jr. and Felix Trinidad. Lou DiBella, Taylor's promoter, already has had talks with Don King, who promotes Jones and Trinidad, about the bouts and is optimistic they can be made. Both would be good fights for Taylor because they are winnable against opponents with high name recognition. I'm not sure what Wright is doing. He seems to be pricing himself out of the market. I hope he takes a fight against Kessler because that would be an interesting bout. So far, though, talks have gone nowhere because of Wright's financial demands.
I am a huge boxing fan but not an insider. Can you explain what kind of review judges face after a fight? Is their performance monitored and evaluated, and, if so, by whom? I ask because of the Jose Navarro-Cristian Mijares fight on Feb. 16? Have you ever seen a fighter win a fight where one judge had him losing every single round? I would like to think that Doug Tucker, who scored the bout 120-108 for Mijares, will have to sit in a room with the fight tape and explain his decision to a board of overseers.
Horrible judging has to stop. It is hard to take boxing seriously when the outcome is sometimes determined by someone like Mr. Tucker. He gave every round to Navarro! How could that even be possible? I want boxing to get stronger and reach a larger audience because I feel that elite boxers are among the best athletes in the world. But how can you sell the sport when it doesn't take itself seriously enough to prevent people like Tucker from officiating?
David, how judges are reviewed depends upon the jurisdiction. In Nevada, where the Mijares-Navarro fight was held, executive director Keith Kizer holds a meeting with judges and referees in the arena at the conclusion of the fight card. He goes over anything that happened that night and asks judges to explain their thinking in a controversial decision. Kizer plans no discipline of Tucker. Kizer came to me at ringside after the Pavlik-Taylor fight had ended and defended Tucker's score by asking, "Can you tell me one round in which it was obvious that one guy clearly won?" I scored it 116-112 for Mijares. Tucker usually is a reliable judge and this call clearly was out of character for him.
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- Kelly Pavlik
- Bob Arum
- Jermain Taylor
- John Duddy
- Wladimir Klitschko
- Sultan Ibragimov