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28 MAY 2018

Where am I? Home Columns Marc Livitz

SecondsOut Promoter of the Year: Top Rank

By: Marc Livitz: On December 8 of this year, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum celebrated his 80th birthday. For nearly 40 years, Arum has run a tight ship and has looked after the futures of many of boxing’s all-time greats.

Although his company has not always been free of the sports world’s fair share of feigned criticism, there can be no doubt that 2011 was a hallmark year for the Las Vegas based firm. The sport of boxing owes a monumental show of thanks to Top Rank for how their business methods and mannerisms helped to pave the way for the superfights which are now commonplace in our time. Since 1973, Top Rank has arranged for some of the fight game’s top athletes to meet up in the ring. Their list of pugilistic greats include Muhammad Ali, the late Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Oscar de la Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and as of now, Manny Pacquiao, just to name a few. Although several new promotional companies have surfaced in the past several years, Top Rank still remains the torchbearer in regard to amassing unforgettable fight cards, one after another. SecondsOut would like to congratulate Top Rank, Inc. as the 2011 Promoter of the Year and the forthcoming examples are but a scant minority of the quality produced in the past twelve months.

On February the 19th at the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, bantamweight titlist and pound-for-pound contender Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire (San Leandro, CA) pummeled the always dangerous Fernando Montiel via a second round knockout. At the time of the fight, Montiel (Los Mochis, Sinaloa, MX) was ranked as one of the world’s top pound-for-pound contenders himself. The evening also proved to be a showcase for the up and coming and undefeated welterweight contender, Mike Jones of Philadelphia. The following month and also in Las Vegas, Top Rank collaborated with a few other promotional companies (Don King and Gary Shaw, respectively) to offer the contest between welterweight star Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico and the not always entertaining, yet never boring Ricardo Mayorga of Nicaragua. Cotto prevailed by way of a twelfth round TKO. Top Rank took its brilliance in presentation back east in March. On the 26th of the month, the undefeated Cuban featherweight sensation Yuriorkis Gamboa faced former titleholder Jorge Solis of Mexico at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. The referee stopped the bout prior to the end of the fourth round after Gamboa had dropped Solis for the fifth time.

The action returned to Las Vegas in May. At the MGM Grand Garden Arena on the seventh of the month, one of the world’s top fighters, Manny Pacquiao dealt the formidable Shane Mosley one of his most lopsided defeats. While the main event was not exactly what many had hoped for, the co-main event certainly made up for any lost thunder. The always colorful fan favorite, Jorge Arce of Los Mochis, MX rolled back the clock with a shocking defeat of the then-undefeated Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. The bout was close and quite entertaining throughout. Arce found his third wind and overwhelmed Vazquez in the twelfth and final round. As the Mexican warrior began to land flush shots on his Puerto Rican opponent, Vazquez’s corner (headed by his father, boxing legend Wlifredo Vazquez, Sr.) threw in the towel and Arce was declared the winner. The evening also saw the return of former middleweight champion, Kelly Pavlik who prevailed over Alfonso Lopez by majority decision. Moving west in June, Top Rank helped bolster the image of another son of a legend, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. The undefeated and in the eyes of some untested fighter from Culiacan, MX captured his first major world title with a twelve round victory over Sebastian Zbik of Germany for the WBC middleweight belt. The evening’s contest proved to be a very tough assessment and trial by fire for Chavez. Zbik, who was undefeated himself at the time, outboxed and outworked Chavez in the early rounds. Kill the body and the head will die. The Mexican slugger took note of this and rallied from the fifth round onwards. Chavez set his plan in motion to attack the body and began to connect with powerful body shots. By the later rounds, Zbik’s balance was greatly affected the onslaught of thudding body punches from Chavez, who won a close yet majority decision. In early July, ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” took its roadshow to San Antonio, TX and Top Rank earned the distinction of being part of the first-ever boxing event to be simulcast in 3-D. The following week, Top Rank was able to revel in the success of one its finest prospects for the future, the undefeated Brandon Rios of Oxnard, CA. “Bam Bam” Rios was already ranked as one of the top lightweights in the world and he used the backdrop of the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA to show just why he had earned this recognition. Rios overwhelmed Urbano Antillion for three solid rounds and was heralded as the victor via third round knockout.

One of the top fights of 2011 took place under Top Rank’s banner in New York City on July 15. Junior middleweights Delvin Rodriguez of Danbury, CT and Pawel Wolak of New Jersey put on a performance for the ages at the Roseland Ballroom. Delvin Rodriguez tried to control the pace while Wolak continued to apply pressure. After twelve pulsating rounds, the judges saw the fight even. The following evening in Cancun, QR, Mexico, Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez didn’t exactly experience much of a tuneup fight against Colombian Likar Ramos. The fight was streamed free of charge on Top Rank’s website.

For two consecutive weeks in November, Arum’s company was responsible for two more great events, the third meeting between Marquez and Manny Pacquiao and the title defense of Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. versus Peter Manfredo, Jr. In the former, Pacquiao emerged victorious in yet another contentious decision that will likely be as debated its two predecessors (in 2004 and 2008, respectively) have been for the past seven years. The events on November 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas also included the return of light welterweight champion and new Top Rank signee Timothy Bradley of Palm Springs, CA. Bradley defended his WBO title by way of an eighth round TKO over Joel Casamayor of Cuba. The contests set up for Top Rank through matchmaker Brad Goodman proved to be successful ones throughout the year. Such was the case the next weekend in Houston, TX. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. withstood an early charge from Peter Manfredo, Jr. at the Reliant Arena. Chavez regained his composure and once again used body shots as well as effective combinations to overpower his Providence, R.I. opponent and carry his winning ways over to 2012. Chavez earned a 5th round TKO to remain undefeated. The year came to a promising conclusion for Top Rank in early December in New York City. A rematch many had been waiting for, Miguel Cotto versus Antonio Margarito II took place at Madison Square Garden on December 3rd. Cotto had without any doubt been waiting for the day that he would have a chance at evening his account with Margarito. The Puerto Rican fighter did just that with a technical decision victory. The entire night’s card was set up as one to remember. In addition to the return bout between Cotto and Margarito, viewers and attendees were also treated to a fight featuring Brandon Rios against Englishman John Murray and Rios outclassed Murray on his way to an eleventh round TKO. Also on the evening’s bill was the rematch of the aforementioned Delvin Rodriguez/Pawel Wolak fight, although this time Rodriguez was the clear cut winner by way of a near shutout unanimous decision win.

Top Rank continues to set the standard for boxing entertainment with its desire to put the fans first. They seem to understand the difference between what they’d like to do and what actually needs to be done first. They continue to showcase events all over the world and to bring great contests into the homes of fight fans. Their Pay-Per-View events are well complemented by their cable TV telecasts, including their “Top Rank Live” series. Once again, SecondsOut congratulates Top Rank, Inc. for winning the Promoter of the Year award for 2011.

December 30, 2011

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