So, as you likely know, the fan response to the ticket release for Saturday’s Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux match was fairly frenzied.
They snapped up tix like they were free food samples at Costco, greedily, snarfed them all up in three days. So, the 5,000 room capacity for the MSG Theater was jammed, and yes, it crossed the minds of people involved in the promotion, not really but kinda sorta…can we find a bigger room?
The NHL Rangers are busy Saturday night at MSG’s big room, against the NJ Devils. So, the Theater it is for a really, truly, actually, hotly anticipated clash by two technical wizards, the Ukrainian dazzler against the Cuban whose technical skill set leaves even seasoned boxers admiring him unabashedly.
I asked Bob Arum, was it considered, by Top Rank and the Rigo people, at Roc Nation, to maybe place it in a larger barn? “That wasn’t a choice,” Arum explained to me on Monday. “We wanted that date Dec. 9, to segue into it the Heisman awards, on ESPN. That gets a tremendous audience, it’s very anticipated when people don’t know who will win, though I think everyone knows the Oklahoma QB (Baker Mayfield) who’s had a phenomenal season, should win. That’s what ESPN wanted, to segue. The theater was available, but the Rangers are in the big Garden. I knew the Garden has told us NY has a large Ukrainian population, everyone loves Loma, who is becoming extra well known. There’s the Cuban population liking Rigo, in the US…and New York fight fans are the most sophisticated boxing fans in the US, and they realize how significant this is on Saturday. New York is the logical place to have the fight.”
In promoting this, a Ukrainian and a Cuban, is it a different deal, I asked Bob. Is it harder doing that than a fight including an American? “Anybody in boxing who is promoter who can’t promote the two best amateur boxers ever, basically, two guys each of whom have two golds and are currently pro champs, if you can’t promote them… even if they came from Nigeria, or South Africa or Korea, whatever ethnic background it doesn’t matter for this kind of fight.”
I have to think, the wealth of potential eyeballs has to be salivating.
“We think there will be a tremendous audience. I’m not permitted to discuss potential ratings, all ratings have to come from our partner, so no predictions.”
Most are liking Loma, who they believe is more suited for 130 pounds than Rigo, to get the W. If he wins, I asked Arum, can we get a sense of what might come next?
“Win or even lose, for Loma, we think he’ll go after a lightweight title. By the end of 2018, see him performing as a lightweight.
I’m getting inquiries from all over the world, particularly Australia, talking good sums of money for a Lomachenko fight.”
Arum will after the Loma-Rigo fight head to Australia to get a better sense of what matches could be made with Top Rank and Aussie talent. Executive Carl Moretti will accompany Arum.
On Dec. 13, Jeff Horn, co-promoted by Top Rank, and possessing the WBO welterweight title, will fight Gary Corcoran in Brisbane. “We are leaving Sunday to Brisbane. We will look at some of these top Aussies. Their market is booming, and we can match some of our guys with these Aussies like we did with Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn, which was massive.”
And Manny…Will he or won’t he? Manny Pacquiao has his hands full with Senatorial duties in his Philippines and we are left to wonder: is there room in his life to also juggling prize-fighting?
I put it to Arum, who has been in contact with Manny, after his last outing, this summer against Jeff Horn, seeing if and when he wanted to fight again.
“I think we’re trying to find a good place for him to fight a regular, not a championship fight,” Arum said. “Then if Horn beats Corcoran or Corcoran wins, that winner is obligated to fight Terence Crawford, in March or April. If Pacquiao fights (a non-championship) fight, and comes through winner, then we look to him fighting the WBO welterweight champion. That’s my hope. We would be dealing with various people, and that would make a tremendous fight.”
And would 2018 be his last year fighting?
“I think he’s ambivalent, he’s basically like ‘show me something’..if there’s something good in boxing 2018 I’m up for it, if not, he’s had a great career.”
For the record, Crawford will make the trek to Australia with Team Arum, and will be ringside to watch Jeff Horn-Gary Corcoran. “We will hopefully be announcing on the 13th that he will be fighting the Horn-Corcoran winner,” Arum said.
If all goes smoothly, no cuts or injuries or unforeseen speed-bumps, Arum would like to have Bud versus the Horn-Corcoran winner no later than April. That would lead us to maybe September or so, to have THAT winner—we predict Bud to get the nod—fight Pacquiao.
But too much planning in boxing is a fool’s errand. So, we will be patient-ish, and wait to see how this plays out.