Arum wants Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Ray Beltran on pay-per-view
By Chris Williams: Bob Arum doesn’t look like he wants to wait any longer before testing Vasyl Lomachenko’s marketing appeal, as he says interested in making his next fight on August 25 against WBO lightweight champion Ray Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KOs) on pay-per-view.
It’s a surprising move from the Top Rank boss, because Lomachenko-Beltran is arguably not even remotely a PPV worthy fight. Beltran, 36, is up there in age, and not a popular fighter. He’s a world champion in holding the WBO 135lb belt, but arguably only because he was matched against 39-year-old Paulus Moses last February for the vacant title. Beltran would have likely been over his head if he’d had to fight Regis Prograis for the vacant WBO title instead of Moses.
“One might be on pay-per-view, the Loma fight, we may try Loma out on pay-per-view, maybe against Ray Beltran,” Arum said to Everlast’s Talkbox podcast at teameverlast.everlast.com.
I don’t think Arum’s idea of selling Lomachenko vs. Beltran is going to fly with the U.S boxing fans. The Ukrainian Lomachenko isn’t a star in the U.S., and the fans aren’t going to likely want to purchase his mismatch against Beltran, who isn’t on the map in terms of being a recognizable name to the casual boxing fans.
Putting a fighter on PPV BEFORE he’s built a fan base as a wrong-headed idea, because it limits the amount of fans that can see that fighter. The idea behind building a fighter is you make his fights free at first, and then later you move them to PPV.
Arum seems to have things backwards in the case of Lomachenko. Arum is thinking of asking the boxing fans to pay right now to see Lomachenko rather than waiting for him to slowly build a fan base before making the leap to pay-per-view. Promoters need to resist their money-making instincts to go for the short-term money right away, because it doesn’t pay off when you rush a fighter to PPV before they’ve established a fan base.
Lomachenko vs. Beltran is not a great fight, even on regular ESPN. It’s a basic fight that one might want to watch on regular free cable if they had absolutely nothing to do on a Friday or Saturday night. Lomachenko-Beltran is not must see TV, and it’s certainly not the type of fight that would sell on ESPN PPV. Lomachenko vs. Mikey Garcia is a fight that could possibly sell a limited amount of PPV buys on ESPN if it’s sold at a fair price. Lomachenko vs. Beltran is bad news for PPV. That just looks greed. If I was promoting Lomachenko, I would definitely make the Beltran fight on PPV.
Lomachenko’s fight against WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares (44-4, 27 KOs) had an attendance of 10,429 fans last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York. Those are good numbers, right? But when you take in the account that that MSG seats 20,789 boxing fans, it means that there was still only at 50% capacity for the fight. To be a PPV fighter, you’ve got to be able to sellout your venues and Lomachenko didn’t do that for the Linares fight.
Lomachenko vs. Beltran is a fight in which Arum will have his hands on the levers of the promotion without having to share with another promoter, as both fighters are with his Top Rank stable. In other words, Lomachenko-Beltran is an in-house fight for Arum’s Top Rank company.
Arum would be better off letting Beltran fight the top 15 contenders in the World Boxing Organization’s rankings, and instead match Lomachenko against someone that the U.S fans want to see him fighting like Mikey Garcia, Gervonta Davis, Luke Campbell, Miguel Berchelt, Alberto Machado, Christopher Diaz, Regis Prograis, Sergey Lipinets, Kiryl Relikh or Jose Ramirez. If Lomachenko is a legend, like Arum is saying he’s on his way to becoming, then he should be willing to fight better opposition than Beltran. Arum has compared Lomachenko to the late Muhammad Ali. If you look at Ali’s resume, he had already fought Joe Frazier by the time he was 30. Ali wasn’t taking soft fights. He was facing the best. Ali wasn’t waiting to take on the best. Beltran isn’t a necessary fight for Lomachenko. It’s a waste of time.
Arum is looking to have Lomachenko unify the lightweight division so it can validate him as a fighter in the eyes of the casual boxing. That doesn’t work. We saw that with Arum’s fighter Terence Crawford. He unified the light welterweight division, but it didn’t turn him into a star with the casual boxing fans. The reason why is because Crawford was winning his 140 lb. titles beating guys like Julius Indongo, Thomas Dulorme and Viktor Postol. Those were not guys that Crawford needed to fight for him to become a star. Now we’re seeing the same thing done with Lomachenko. Instead of focusing on matching Lomachenko against the popular fighters that the boxing public is interested in, like Mikey Garcia, Miguel Berchelt, Gervonta Davis, Jose Ramirez, Kirly Relikh, Sergey Lipinets and Regis Prograis, Arum is putting him in with Beltran and talking about selling it on PPV. It’s a dumb idea.
”He proved he’s a fighter, tonight he proved he’s a fighter,” Arum proudly said to ESPN about Lomachenko after he had to get up off the deck in the 6th to come back to stop Linares in the 10th. ”He already proved before he’s a talent, but tonight he proved he’s a fighter. I think it elevates his legacy. We always knew what a great talent he is, but he showed tonight he’s a real fighter against the best guy he ever fought – a bugger guy who knows how to fight and wasn’t going to quit and was going to go out on his shield. Loma stood up to him and showed what a fighter he is. He showed deep down guts, and to knock him down with a body shot is tremendous,” Arum said.
Linares is NOT the best fighter Lomachenko has ever fought obviously. The best guy that Lomachenko has fought as a pro is Orlando Salido, and he lost to him in 2014. If you look at that fight and the Linares fight last Saturday, it’s like night and day. Lomachenko was having problems from get go against Salido, because he wasn’t playing into his head fakes. Salido was going after Lomachenko’s body with hard body shots, and he beat him quite easily. So when Arum tries to build Linares up afterwards by saying he’s the best fighter that Lomachenko have ever fought before, it sounds disingenuous to the extreme. It sounds like he’s trying to market a product that isn’t as good as he makes him sound.