April 8, 2011

Q&A with Bob Arum and Juan Manuel Lopez

During a media conference call on Friday April 8th to promote the upcoming Juan Manuel Lopez-Orlando Salido featherweight championship fight, I had the opportunity to speak with legendary boxing promoter Bob Arum and WBO Featherweight Champion Juan Manuel Lopez as he prepares to defend his WBO title against the Mexican challenger Orlando Salido (34-11-2 w/ 22KOs). The Lopez-Salido fight is scheduled for April 16th in Puerto Rico, and will air live on Showtime.

Not surprisingly, there was more media focus on a potential Juan Manuel Lopez-Yuriorkis Gamboa fight than on the actual Lopez-Salido fight itself.

Juan Manuel Lopez (30-0 w/ 27 KOs) was all business during the call and seemed focused on the fight at hand against Salido, apparently not wishing to make comparisons to past performances between he and Gamboa, saying, "It's not important. I certainly want to look good and do as good as I can against Salido but I don't want to compare myself to Gamboa, and what I'm going to do." Lopez stated he is ready for the fight against Salido, he indicated that he had a good training camp, and according to Lopez, he weighed in at 130 pounds at the seven day weigh-in and he expects no weight related issues.

Promoter Bob Arum challenged the premium cable channels (Showtime and HBO presumably) to "show me the money" in reference to making a Lopez-Gamboa dream fight which everybody seems to want made sooner rather than later. Arum stressed how he as the promoter takes all the risk in potentially making a Lopez-Gamboa PPV fight before it's time. "It's gonna be my money, and only when I can recover my money and make a profit will the fight be made on Pay Per View." It was apparent that Arum feels the fight is simply not yet ready to make the kind of big money on PPV that both he and the fighters involved would expect, "I will decide when it's opportune to do the fight." 

And so the waiting game continues.

What follows is my Q&A with Juan Manuel Lopez and Bob Arum:

Jeffrey Freeman w/ KnockoutDigest: Mr Lopez, Bob Arum was talking earlier a little bit about boxing in Puerto Rico, and obviously Puerto Rico has a very rich boxing history, with so many great Puerto Rican fighters. JuanMa, who was your favorite Puerto Rican fighter growing up and is it important to you to be considered among the best fighters ever from Puerto Rico?

Juan Manuel Lopez:
I know the great tradition there is in Puerto Rico with boxing. I am very proud to be a part of that tradition and without a doubt you know, growing up, my idol was and still is, Felix Trinidad.


KnockoutDigest.com: Bob, congratulations on 45 years in professional boxing, obviously you have been involved in the sport of boxing for a very long time. Comparing the sport of today to how it's been in the past, what are some of the biggest differences from your point of view?

Bob Arum: Well, you have to understand, when I first started in the sport back in the mid 60's, there were no satellites, no international satellites, no domestic satellites so the communication was, you would look at it as like being in the dark ages. When we did a closed circuit fight we had to use telephone company long lines. It was a whole different business model because of how limited in retrospect, we were in communications. Now we have all the satellites, we have Pay Per View, we have stuff that nobody even contemplated 45 years ago, and in the next 10 or 15 years people will be buying a PPV fight on their iPad. And not only buying it on their iPad but electing which corner to watch between rounds, which camera angle to watch a fight from. Everything changes and yet everything stays the same. Ultimately it's two guys in the ring facing off against eachother.

KnockoutDigest.com: Do you see any similarities between the first Leonard-Hearns fight and potential fight between Gamboa and Lopez?

Bob Arum: Well you know everybody likes that comparison because the first Leonard-Hearns fight was such a momentous event with such anticipation over the years as Leonard and Hearns fought other people and were both undefeated so yes, if this could be at even 50% of the excitement which we went into the Leonard-Hearns fight with, I would be very gratified.

KnockoutDigest.com: Has your opinion of Mixed Martial Arts changed at all? I know you've been critical of it in the past.

Bob Arum: Understand, it's not my cup of tea. For me, its unwatchable. I understand that I am of a certain age where I wouldn't be receptive to it. The people at UFC, they are very good friends of mine and they come from the same town, Las Vegas. They're outstanding people, the Fertitta brothers, Dana White, and they do a great job promoting their sport, but it's not my sport and I don't particularly like it. I don't like it. Period. That doesn't mean that other people shouldn't like it.