Bob Arum on Horn-Crawford, Pacquiao and how to fix bad judging

By Michael Woods

Brooklyn-born promoter Bob Arum is in his sixth decade promoting prizefights and fighters and the octogenarian deal-maker is still knee-deep in star building, and working to make the sport relevant and attractive to fans.

He touched base with the Everlast podcast TALKBOX this week and shared the latest news on the Top Rank stable, which includes the man the Boxing Writer’s Association of America just voted as the top hitter, pound-for-pound, on the planet, Nebraska’s Terence Crawford.

“I’m glad they did,” he said. “I was with Terence; he flew in to L.A. Monday and we had lunch together at the Polo Lounge. And we discussed his future and he’s a wonderful young man and a tremendous, tremendous talent and I think, in the next five years or so, we’re gonna see the era of Terence Crawford.”

“Bud” looked as good as he has, to this point, dominant, aggressive as all hell, in his most recent outing, when he downed Julius Indongo (KO3) August 19, on ESPN. So, when will he next glove up?

Arum said Crawford, 30, (32-0 with 23 knockouts) is giving up his 140-pound straps and will ply his trade at welterweight. “He’ll be the mandatory contender for (WBO welterweight titlist) Jeff Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs). That’s what me and Terence were discussing. His next fight will be in February or March and will be against Jeff Horn.” Unless, that is, the Aussie Horn, 29, gets upset if his planned scrap against Brit Gary Corcoran, in December, doesn’t go his way.

And Manny Pacquiao, 38, (59-7-2, 38 KOs), he’s still a superstar, even if aging has affected him. When is he fighting next?

“I don’t know if he’s gonna fight. He’s really into the political situation. He’s being groomed by people in the Philippines to be the next President,” Arum said of the current senator. “So, when it’s a choice of doing the public good or taking the time to work in a gym to prepare himself for a fight, he’s going to adopt the former.”

Arum being Arum, he was willing and able to speak from the heart on any number of topics. We discussed judging and the possibility (or not) that boxing’s powers that be finally wake up and act on the fact that too many weird and wild decisions sap credibility from the game. “The judging in boxing can be deplorable. You have to get a super-panel of judges, which all commissions agree to. You have to take out the appointment of judges from the hands of the executive directors of the commissions because that’s all wrapped in politics, and they rotate the judges, without regard to their ability necessarily.” Arum cited, as an example, his experience dealing with the Las Vegas commission ahead of the November 2016 Vasyl Lomachenko-Nicholas Walters match. Glenn Trowbridge, Burt Clements and Adalaide Byrd got the assignment to score it. (Yes, that Adalaide Byrd.) Prior to the bout, Las Vegas gave Top Rank a list of proposed judges who they decided would work the main event. Byrd was on the list, Arum said, and Top Rank objected. Arum added, “They asked on what grounds were we objecting and we pointed out scorecards she had in the past and she’d been inconsistent and, in certain events, was incompetent and therefore we didn’t want her. And they said that’s not grounds to object to her. And I said, ‘What is the grounds?’ They said, ‘Well, whether she’s biased or crooked.’ That’s crazy!…They just ignore you! Lo and behold, she was appointed in that fight. Luckily it didn’t matter because Lomachenko stopped Walters. But look what happened in the Canelo (Alvarez)-(Gennady) Golovkin fight.”

I asked Arum if he had a bone to pick particularly with the Las Vegas commission. “Unfortunately yes, absolutely. There’s no question about it…It seems to me the commission in Las Vegas is overprotective of judges and referees who come from Las Vegas or Nevada. That’s not right; that’s not right. They’ve got to broaden the field. Also they have a tendency not to listen to anyone else…And this is not only the current (Nevada State Athletic Commission) Executive Director (Bob Bennett). The guy before that (Keith Kizer) had this CJ Ross person, who judged for Tim Bradley in the first fight with Manny Pacquiao, a ridiculous scorecard and they brought her back for the Alvarez- (Floyd) Mayweather (Jr.) fight, which she had the score as a draw, when Mayweather clearly defeated Alvarez.”

Arum, as always, pulling no punches.

You can follow Michael Woods on Twitter @Woodsy1069.

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