Is Bob Arum in Need of “INCEPTION”

Manny Pacquiao & Bob Arum
Manny Pacquiao & Bob Arum
By Jason Pribila: Writer/Director Christopher Nolan’s latest visual masterpiece, “Inception” dominated the box office; leaving audiences with the task of trying to grasp what they just witnessed. On the same weekend, Top Rank president Bob Arum held a 3am conference call to announce that Floyd Mayweather Jr. missed the deadline for exclusive rights to negotiate to fight Manny Pacquiao on November 13.

Days later Team Mayweather announced that no such negotiations ever took place, leaving boxing scribes to question: Who is telling the truth, Who is lying, and Is any of this worth depriving themselves of sleep?
No matter who is to blame for failing to make the sport’s biggest fight, one thing is clear. Fresh ideas need to be implanted into the minds of the sport’s powers that be.

“Inception” stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the leader of a group of specialists that have mastered the art of extraction. They have the ability to enter one’s mind, and steal their valuable secrets while their mark is asleep and dreaming. The movie takes off when they are hired for a much more difficult task, which is to plant an idea rather than steal one. The whole key to making this mission a success is to make their target believe that the idea was their own.

Hollywood, like boxing is fond of immediately capitalizing on a financial success by staging a sequel. In this case I would commission DiCaprio’s crew to give fight fans their own blockbuster to look forward to in 2010.

The target in this mission would be Bob Arum. It would not take a team of experts to extract the reasons why Arum is not keen on making Mayweather richer. Therefore, this mission would require inception. I would build on the comments Arum made during his early morning conference call regarding alternative opponents for Pacquiao. He narrowed it down to two possibilities: a bout against disgraced former titlist Antonio Margarito or a rematch with Miguel Cotto. Neither fight would satisfy anyone that is not currently on the Top Rank payroll.
The somewhat valid reason that Arum gave for not considering anyone outside of the Top Rank family was because none of the other fighters mentioned (Timothy Bradley, Paul Williams, Andre Berto) bring enough star power or box office clout.

“We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building up our fighters and publicizing them so they are pay-per-view attractions.” Arum continued, “The other promoters don’t really promote their fighters. They take money from HBO or Showtime or a little Indian casino and they think they are doing the kid a big service. I’m not going to give them a free ride on the work we have done.”

I would have the architect of Arum’s dream use the recent death of New York Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner as the backdrop. Steinbrenner, like Arum, built his company into the most respected and successful in their respective sports. The New York Yankees are a billion dollar business, and with their riches come the spoils of affording the best team money can buy. While this model does not always ensure a championship, it usually satisfies fans who appreciate an owner that always gives their team the best chance to succeed. They return that respect by selling out their stadium, and making sure that the Yankees remain profitable.

Baseball is the one major American sport without a salary cap. Basically, teams in large markets could buy the best free agent talent. In an attempt to level the playing field, Major League baseball implemented a Revenue Sharing plan. Under the current plan all teams pay in 31 percent of their local revenues. That pot is then split evenly among all 30 major league teams.

According to the Wall Street Journal the Yankees paid out $76 million in 2005, while the smaller market teams received $30 million or more.

Now, I’m sure that Mr. Steinbrenner had problems trying to understand why he should be punished for constructing the game’s most successful business model. Why should smaller market teams that fail to put a profitable product on the field receive a “free ride” and capitalize on the Yankees hard work and success?

Those questions are valid, which is why our team would have their work cut out for them. They would have to find a way to get Arum to believe; what Steinbrenner proved. He left on top, and few could question his track record or legacy.

What Arum needs to realize is that the Yankees will continue to succeed after Steinbrenner because the game as a whole is stronger than ever. Attendance is up, and the reason is because when each season starts the majority of the teams (with the exception of the Pirates and Orioles) go into Spring Training with the belief that they could compete for a championship.
Steinbrenner is a hero in New York, but his greatness is measured because he elevated the sport as a whole.

I’m sure Arum has his own meticulous plan to ensure that Top Rank remains successful when he hands over the reigns. However, those best laid plans will be for not, if the sport as a whole continues to fade from the mainstream’s consciousness.

Now the trick is to get Arum to embrace that idea as his own.

PRIB NOTES: ShoBox should be commended for putting on solid cards on back to back weekends. Their mission statement was in full effect as prospects were matched tougher than ever, and fans got to see a few upsets and fights that were much closer than judges cards reflected.

Yes, I was one of the few that purchased the David Tua – Monte Barrett PPV on Saturday Night. As it turned out, the main event was as dramatic as any heavyweight fight in recent memory. While Tua is a shell of his former self, he was still able to remind viewers of why they used to watch heavyweights. Each punch he threw was with bad intentions, and even though they decreased as the fight went on, any one of them could have taken the verdict out of the judges’ hands.

My fight report inspired more comments than any other piece I wrote for I just ask my readers to take it easy on the few of us that purchased this card on a beautiful Saturday Night in July. The reality of that purchase forced me to call my mother to let her know that she probably shouldn’t be holding out hope for any grandchildren to come from her only son.

Timothy Bradley made his debut on HBO, as well as the welterweight division. Bradley fought his way to a unanimous decision against previously undefeated Luis Carlos Abregu. It was another solid victory for Bradley, but he again failed to excite me. I respect him as a fighter and acknowledge that he deserves to be ranked at the top of the junior welterweight division. However, I would probably pick against him against Alexander, Maidana, and even Judah.

Two-Time National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies stumbled to a 2-6 record following the All-Star Break. An upcoming 4-game series will go a long way to determining if they will play meaningful games in September. Even if they find a way to make the playoffs, I’m becoming more convinced that Mike Jones is the city’s best chance to capture a world title.

Since it appears that Andre Berto negotiated himself off television for the rest of 2010, perhaps he could take the time to figure out who Jones is.

July 23, 2010
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