Bob Arum promoted some of the greatest boxing matches of the 20th century, including 25 of Muhammad Ali’s fights between 1966 and 1978. Ali was the central figure in a golden age of boxing. The sport, however, has declined precipitously in the American psyche over the last 10 to 20 years, especially with the rise of UFC.
“The problem with battling the UFC is that in boxing, we’re under the Muhammad Ali Act,” Arum said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “We have to reveal how much we get from different revenue sources to the fighters. In UFC, they are not bound by the Muhammad Ali Act. The UFC pays fighters a pittance of what we do in boxing because the UFC is essentially a monopoly. We pay fighters probably 80 to 90 percent of the income. The UFC, they don’t pay them 20 percent of the income. So the UFC has all of this money to spend on newspaper ads, on internet ads, and they – because they can spend money on the ads – they get much more coverage than we do because all of these entities want the money that the UFC is paying in advertising.”
Still, many of the top stars in combat sports are MMA fighters. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao carried boxing for a long time, but the matchup everyone clamored for came a few years too late. Mayweather/Pacquiao was supposed to be one of the greatest fights in boxing history. Instead, it was a dud.
Don’t blame boxing for that fight, Arum said. Blame the Nevada Athletic Commission.
“We had gotten permission from USADA to give Manny a shot because of his shoulder, and then at the last minute, the Nevada Commission turned that down,” Arum said. “If we had been allowed to give Manny Pacquiao that shot, that shoulder wouldn’t have broken down after the sixth round, and Manny would have won that fight.”
Arum isn’t convinced we’ll ever see a rematch.
“It takes two to tango,” he said, “and Floyd’s people tell me that Floyd’s enjoying his retirement. I believe it. You can’t say never, but right now Floyd doesn’t want to fight.”
Pacquiao, meanwhile, may one day run for president in the Philippines.
“He was elected as senator, and I think one day he could be the president,” Arum said. “And let me tell you: He’s be a better president of the Philippines than the Republican nominee (would be here).”