Bob Arum’s Mexican Standoff

by Paul Magno

Mexican Standoff:

 n: a situation in which no one can emerge as a clear winner. A no-win/no-lose situation


What must the atmosphere have been like in the dressing room after the main event of Latin Fury 8 as Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. celebrated his harder-than-expected victory over 106th ranked Luciano Cuello? sotomontielWhat could’ve been going through the minds of established veteran world champions, Fernando Montiel and Humberto Soto as they watched the media gush over Chavez Jr.? And what about when they heard all the big plans Bob Arum has in store for his young fighter? Could anyone expect these two accomplished warriors to be at all happy about playing second fiddle to a 23-year old who has yet to beat anyone ranked in the top 100? Would anyone blame them for frustration born from having to fight “stay busy” fights against marginal foes for marginal paychecks while Arum goes on and on about Chavez Jr.’s next PPV main event? Especially vexing for the pair of Top Rank champs is the fact that lesser Latino fighters are making bigger paydays with just about every other promotional company.

Recently, Bob Arum of Top Rank has shown an utter inability to land his Mexican and Mexican-American fighters the exposure and paydays they need. Instead, unless their name is Chavez or Margarito, they are in a perpetual holding pattern of rumored fights that never materialize and big opportunities that always seem to go to other fighters. Is this inability to push their Mexican fighters a product of Arum’s fading influence in the Hispanic market or is it indicative of Arum’s diminishing desire to promote anyone who isn’t already an established draw?

Fernando Montiel has to be among the most frustrated. He’s on many Top 10 Pound 4 Pound lists and on any informed Top 20 list. This superb technician and former Super Flyweight champ recently got tossed a bone and he was given a title shot at the vacant WBO Bantamweight title against unknown Diego Silva on the Chavez/Cuello undercard, but money fights with Cristian Mijares, Vic Darchinyan and Nonito Donaire never materialized despite rumors that they were close to being made. Now, Montiel is Bantamweight champ and a fight with Eric Morel is rumored. If this fight also falls through, Montiel may very well resign himself to the fact that no mega-fights are on the horizon and the money a pro like him deserves to make won’t be on the table until he’s well past his physical prime.

Another fighter lost in the shuffle is Humberto Soto, the talented 2-time and currently reigning WBC world champ whose career has been in limbo since early 2008. While he’s been fighting club fighters for small bills and intermittently entangled in a pair of farces for an interim title against the inferior Francisco Lorenzo, Golden Boy Super Featherweights like Rocky Juarez and Jorge Barrios have enjoyed multiple legit title shots on primetime HBO shows despite multiple big-fight losses. Soto’s next scheduled to fight Benoit Gaudet, another “keep busy” distraction on the Pacquiao/Hatton undercard.

And this inability to make the big fights for its smallest fighters, doesn’t stop with Montiel and Soto…

alvarado1At one point, Top Rank’s Mike Alvarado was more highly regarded than fellow Jr. Welterweight, Victor Ortiz. Now, despite nearly identical records and similar achievements, Golden Boy’s Ortiz is HBO’s darling and he’ll be fighting for his first world title against WBA champ, Andreas Kotelnik while Alvarado’s next bout will be against Joaquin Gallardo, deep on the Pacquiao/Hatton card. Alvarado has to be second-guessing his choice of promoter.urbanothumb

A similar question mark has to appear above the head of Urbano Antillon, Top Rank’s tough, young Super Featherweight, as he continues to fight on obscure Spanish-language channels while fellow 26-year old 130 pounder, Golden Boy’s Robert Guerrero, has enjoyed two high-profile bouts on prominent cards following a year of inactivity.  

Even among the smallest of the small, unrest has to be brewing at Top Rank. Edgar Sosa and Ulises Solis, holders of the WBC and IBF Jr. Flyweight titles, respectively, look to make the only money fight in the division- against fellow Top Rank fighter, and WBO Flyweight champ, Ivan Calderon. Nobody other than Sosa and Solis seem in any hurry to make this fight. Instead, all 3 champs get tossed small fights to keep them busy and, essentially, keep them out of bankruptcy.

The Lightweight Lightning PPV last week served as further proof of Golden Boy’s dedication to the Latino market and their desire to keep their Latino fighters sharp and well-paid, with the most exposure possible. While the show wasn’t huge and the paychecks weren’t immense, all 6 of their fighters were engaged in lively, significant bouts in front of a crowd that was there to see them. Compare that to the Latinos in the Top Rank stable who, when not just sitting around, are fighting insignificant bouts in front of people who paid to see other fighters.

Bob Arum is currently engaged in a no-win Mexican Standoff with his fighters and the fans who want to see them. No matter what happens, though, he’s simply going to have to do something with his talent. It’s not enough to have a collection of talented fighters if there’s no effort to use them properly. If Arum has no desire to do the hard work of finding them quality fights, he should do the honorable thing and let them out of their contracts. To keep them strung along, like they currently are, is an insult to their abilities and a disservice to us fans who want to see them in worthwhile battles.


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