Boxing/MMA

Manny Pacquiao's Promoter Bob Arum Continues Dumb Attacks on MMA

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Oh Bob Arum. Dear, sweet, ol’Bob.Why is it that you feel compelled to chastise and mock the world of MMA whenever the subject is broached? 

Is it because this thing called MMA seems to be the product of youthful rebellion and that strikes at your conservative sensibilities?  Nah, you are as progressive as any promoter in the fight game so me thinks that your true passive-aggressive disdain for the sport of MMA springs forth from some deep-seeded resentment for the popularity that the sport enjoys. 

A level of popularity that dwarfs all but a Manny Pacquiao-featured boxing card.  It’s clear that boxing is the combative sport of the past, and that today’s youth is drawn to the pomp and grandeur of caged mixed martial arts. 

However, to hear Arum tell it MMA, specifically the UFC, will fail to sustain growth because only white males watch it.  In an interview with USA Today’s Sergio Non and Scott Zucker, Arum took his old-school boxing mentality to McLean, VA as he is on a promotional tour to drive up interest for his upcoming Manny Pacquiao – Shane Mosley PPV card.  However, Arum had some hot sports opinions when the subject of the UFC was brought up.

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"It's the same audience over and over," Arum said Tuesday in his roundtable interview with USA Today. "It's white males, and they have never been able to expand their demographic."

Arum continues on, “The Hispanics don't care anything for [MMA]. Most African-Americans don't watch it. Hey, this country is becoming more and more Hispanic, and it's growing African-American (in the) audience.

“So the future success of UFC is limited. The success of boxing is not, because boxing reaches those groups. The only demographic that boxing has lost is the white, young males, period.”

Ok, let’s quickly dispel the myth that all MMA fans are white teenagers.  Fact of the matter is that there are a good ethnic mix up when it comes to MMA fans.  Also, let us not forget that MMA is wildly popular in the countries of Japan and Brazil (both of whom contributed to the creation of modern day MMA).  This is not to even begin to point out the fact that the UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez, is Mexican American.

Arum’s comments sting like a slap to the face of any minority who carries themselves as a MMA fan.  MMA is not golf.  If you want to see whitewashed fan bases then check out PGA fans.  Granted, MMA does boast a considerable slice of the white males 18-34 demographic but Arum’s comments sound more like sour grapes.  Face it, advertisers salivate over the idea of tapping into the 18-34 white male demo.  Sure, Hispanic and African American consumer power is rapidly growing in leaps and bounds, but as I pointed out again, they too love MMA.

Sure, Arum speaks some truth when he states that the Hispanic-base love boxing.  No one is disputing that fact, but what we are seeing is the Hispanic youth converting more and more toward MMA fans as their fathers and grandfathers continue to hold up boxing as the end all be all. 

Truth be told, MMA is the movement of the youth.  The UFC has tapped into this fact masterfully with slick presentations, pandering to the youth, and full embrace of various social media platforms.  The UFC is seeking to engrain them into mainstream culture.  Boxing on the other hand does little to market itself to the masses.  Granted, the UFC’s monopoly of fighters makes it easier for them to break away from the pack but let’s be real; any boxing promoter could do the same with their stable of fighters especially boxing promotional companies with the vast stable of popular fighters like Arum’s own Top Rank. 

But alas, you will never see this type of forward thinking with the power brokers of boxing.  It’s too late.  There are already centuries of mismanagement and corruption and undoing such a tangled mess would take longer than you or I have on this planet.  Look, I love boxing.  I will always love boxing, but it was boxing’s lack of progression that drove many like me into the awaiting arms of MMA. 

Arum needs to stop and do some research before making such grand sweeping comments.  Then again, with him being a boxing promoter, expecting such diligence and forethought would be like waiting for pigs to grow wings and fly.