“The media is like a dumb rock, you just kick it in any direction you want and they’ll believe anything you say.” — Alex Ariza quoting Bob Arum’s philosophy on media relations.
A true hustler finds a way to win no matter how a situation resolves itself and if there were a hustler’s Hall of Fame, 82-year-old Bob Arum would be a first-ballot cinch.
Recently on the table is a disagreement between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Arum regarding the length of the second generation fighter’s contract with Arum’s Top Rank Promotions. The 28-year-old Chavez insists that his contract is up while Arum argues that Chavez owes him one more fight.
Boxing contracts are dense pieces of legal work that can frequently (and conveniently) be interpreted any number of ways. Without the contract, a lawyer, and a free weekend to work through the word mess there’s no way to know who is actually in the right. Let’s just say that both sides are convinced that the law is on their side.
Usually, the promoters end up winning these battles because an active fighter usually doesn’t want to sacrifice prime career time withering on the vine, battling over business. Time, money, and the entire business structure of boxing usually work against the fighter.
Arum, of course, knows this and is in no hurry to resolve the issue. The time normally invested in building up the fighter, in this case Chavez, can just as easily be used to tear him down.
The latest word floating through the media was that Arum was putting together a Chavez-Carl Froch fight and willing to consider the lucrative battle Chavez’s last under contract. Days earlier, though, he told reporter Erika Montoya the following:
“We have offered several big fights and he still refuses…He turned down Gennady Golovkin, then Carl Froch and now we proposed Gilberto Ramirez. He would make a good amount of money, Ramirez wants to fight him, but he still refuses.”
As part of the bon voyage from Top Rank, this character assassination has become customary. Oscar De la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather both went from untouchable heroes to dastardly cowards slinking away from the latest Top Rank big shot fighter when they left Arum. Chavez is now beginning to experience the same.
“Chavez, in a million years, wouldn’t fight this guy [Top Rank super middleweight prospect, Gilberto Ramirez], Arum told RingTV. Ramirez would mop the floor with him. You can put that on the record.”
Meanwhile, Chavez asserts that these offers and challenges are all taking place solely within the mind of Arum.
“Nobody has discussed that fight [with Froch] with me. I have had no communication with Top Rank, they are lying,” Chavez told Notifight.com.
And as for Ramirez?
“Those are lies, lies, all lies. It is a strategy [by Top Rank], nobody has offered me anything.”
But, again, Arum has the time and the media access to control the narrative of any dispute with a fighter. Mixing in fact with fiction, Arum is more than willing to paint the picture of the fighter with the same brush strokes he chose to deny when Chavez was firmly on Team Arum:
“It disappointed a lot of people when he refused to train [in a proper way] for his fight with Sergio Martinez. That night, with the exception of the last round, he was beaten in each of the previous eleven. Then he fought with [Brian] Vera and a lot of people thought he lost, so I had to [make a rematch]. His career is [not thriving] because he has been distracted by a lot of people and he doesn’t concentrate on training…[Chavez] has the boxing ability to perform at the highest level, but has no desire to make the sacrifice it takes to perform at the top of the sport.”
This whole situation is being designed to provide Arum with yet another win-win.
If Chavez wins his freedom and decides to leave, the young fighter’s reputation is ruined and the impression is that Chavez ran from the challenge of fellow Mexican battler, Gilberto Ramirez. Chavez’s stock goes down, Ramirez’s goes up as he suddenly becomes a “feared man.”
On the other hand, if Chavez decides to mend fences with Arum, the Froch fight (which Froch really wants) will be there as well as an all-Mexico and all-Top Rank showdown with Ramirez.
Nonito Donaire, when he briefly flirted with the idea of jumping ship to Golden Boy, quickly came back to Arum after feeling the media heat and suffering through a drastic re-telling of his worth as both a fighter and a draw.
Who knows with Chavez. The former middleweight titlist is reportedly not hurting for money and definitely not lacking in the area of stubborn pride. He could be willing to ride this out for some time.
Either way, though, count on Arum finding some way to come out on top. It’s the nature of the business. It’s the nature of Bob Arum