NEW YORK – Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank said he's trying to change the way boxing is packaged in an effort to attract younger fans.
During Saturday's pay-per-view card at Madison Square Garden, he hired a DJ and built a light show in an attempt to appeal to a younger demographic.
Arum, 76, concedes he's lifting a page from the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts powerhouse that has so much success with the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic.
"Our product is definitely better than theirs, but they're kicking our (backside) in the presentation," Arum said. "There are a lot of things we need to do to tell the people who buy tickets to our events, 'Hey, we care about you and we want to make sure you enjoy the show.' That hasn't been done for a long time because we've been limited by what TV would allow."
Television networks such as HBO, which produced Saturday's broadcast, haven't wanted live music in the arena because they've believed it was a detriment to the quality of their broadcast.
But Arum has insisted and on Saturday, the show went on with Justin Hoffman, the nephew of Chicago 7 radical Abbie Hoffman, to serve as a DJ during the event. It wasn't groundbreaking, but it was a start.
"They obviously have a great idea of what appeals to those people," White said of the UFC. "They have an inferior product, but a superior presentation. Fortunately, that's something that we can control, our presentation."
Highly regarded super welterweight contender Anthony Thompson was upset in one of the primary undercard bouts, dropping a split decision to unbeaten Yuri Foreman. The outcome shocked both Arum, who promotes Thompson, and Thompson himself, who appeared to land the harder shots and opened a cut above Foreman's right eye.
"I definitely thought I won," Thompson, now 23-2, said. "He grabbed and made it real ugly."
The judges all saw the fight differently. Ron McNair, who had it 97-93 for Foreman, gave Foreman the last five rounds and six of the last seven. But Tony Paolillo, who had it 96-94 for Thompson, and Frank Lombardi, who had it 96-94 for Foreman, each gave Thompson three of the last five.
Foreman, who won the final round on all three judges' cards, said he felt he could have gone more rounds. Upon hearing the decision, he smiled and said, "I feel even better now."
Humberto Soto likely set up what could be a sensational fight with Manny Pacquiao with a devastating seventh-round knockout of Pacquiao's older brother, Bobby.
Soto, who was dominating throughout the super featherweight match, rocked Pacquiao with a straight right that sent him sagging into the ropes and then ended it with a wicked left hook to the rib cage.
Pacquiao collapsed to his knees in his corner and referee Gary Rosato counted to 10.
Top Rank promotes both Soto and Manny Pacquiao, who was honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America on Friday as its 2006 Fighter of the Year, and hopes to pair them on Oct. 6.
"Manny is much busier, he throws a lot more punches and he hits harder," Soto said. "I know that."
Trainer Freddie Roach, who works the corner for both Pacquiao brothers, said "Overall, Soto is much too strong for Bobby Pacquiao."
A LITTLE REVENGE
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. used his father's bread-and-butter to stop Grover Wiley and gain a bit of familial revenge.
Wiley stopped Chavez Sr., a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest fighters ever from Mexico, in the fifth round of a 2005 fight in Phoenix. But Chavez Sr. was 43 and in the final bout of a 116-fight career.
It was different on Saturday against the 21-year-old son. Chavez Jr. knocked Wiley down with a left hook to the body in the first and then did it two more times in the third. The third knockdown ended the fight at 2:27 when Wiley, wincing in pain on his knees, was unable to beat the count.
"I was done after the first liver shot," Wiley said. "He must have hit me there 20 more times."