Bob Arum has major reservations about a potential “super fight” pitting Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis against Shakur Stevenson—and apparently his thinking has little to do with corporate politics.
The longtime head of Top Rank, which promotes two division titlist Stevenson, said the purse demands from both fighters would most likely outpace the revenue that their fight can generate, meaning there would be little incentive for the fighters’ backers to pursue such an endeavor.
Davis, one of the marquee names in boxing, is coming off a resounding seventh-round stoppage of Ryan Garcia in their high-profile fight that took place last month at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That fight was a box office success and reportedly sold over a million pay-per-views.
Davis is backed by Premier Boxing Champions, the outfit led by Al Haymon. While many of the fights that fans have wanted to see over the years may reasonably be blamed on boxing’s fragmented landscape and the corporate agendas of the competing promoters, Arum believes the central issue for a Davis-Stevenson bout lies with the fighters themselves.
“It’s not the two companies [who would be an impediment to making Davis-Stevenson]—that’s nonsense,” Arum told FightHype.com. “It’s the expectation that each guy has, how much each one wants for a fight. Sometimes, it’s too much. It’s not like fighters used to fight a long time ago: small guarantees, and fight on a percentage.
"If they do that, they expect the promoters to put up crazy money which promoters can lose and if promoters continually lose money on fights there won’t be promoters anymore. So Al has to be careful, [Matchroom promoter] Eddie Hearn has to be careful, we have to be careful. You can’t expend yourself in a way that you’re going to take a major hit just to do a fight that really is an appealing fight.”
“It’s not a question of [Davis-Stevenson being] ‘not ready’—we’re not gamblers,” Arum continued. “We take risks but we’re not gamblers. To put up tremendous guarantees for that fight to make a couple of dollars if you’re lucky, probably to lose considerable money—why do it? I would rather buy a ticket and go watch the fight.”
Arum says the one way for Davis-Stevenson to be viable is for both fighters to take a respectful guarantee and wait for the potential profits to come in on the back-end. Arum pointed to the example of Devin Haney, ahead of his fight with Vasiliy Lomachenko.
“Working a deal with Devin on this fight, they went for our formula: Take a good guarantee, take an upside, and if it really hits, you’ll make more money,” Arum said. “That’s the way it always was with Ray Leonard, Hearns, Hagler.”
Added Arum, “I have no problem working with Al Haymon or Eddie Hearn and DAZN. Al doesn’t have any problem with Top Rank, but the deal has to make sense. You cannot ask us to take crazy risks where we would lose a lot of money and really make nothing if we’re successful.”
Sean Nam is the author of the forthcoming book Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing