Longevity in any profession is commendable – that would be an understatement when it comes to Bob Arum. To thrive for more than 50 years however in the murky world of boxing, a sport once succinctly described by Frank Bruno as “Showbusiness with blood”, is simply remarkable.
Arum is a gnarled veteran of the fight game, a man who has seen it all, yet shows no sign of slowing down at the venerable age of 89. Now he is preparing to promote yet another superfight as Tyson Fury faces Deontay Wilder for a third time on July 24. Then hopefully we might even get Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua later this year.
Born on December 8 1931 in New York, his razor-sharp mind was honed first at New York University and then Harvard Law School.
Before becoming one of the most influential figures in the fight game, Arum was a law firm partner and federal prosecutor. In 1966 he co-founded Top Rank with Jabir Herbert Muhammad (the long-time manager of Muhammad Ali). He remains CEO of Top Rank, the world-conquering fight promotional company based in Las Vegas.
Arum first came to prominence being directly involved in the Ali-Joe Frazier fights, and has never been out of the public eye since those heady days of the 1970s. He was also the promoter who made Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr rich men and household names.
In later years Top Rank built up a tiny Filipino fighter named Manny Pacquiao and catapulted him into orbit. If you think it is mere coincidence that these fighters all reached the pugilistic pinnacle, then think again.
Talent alone won’t cut it in boxing. Indeed, hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle.
The superfights down the years which have carried Arum’s promotional fingerprints is simply incredible – those Ali/Frazier epics, the spellbinding Hagler vs Hearns, Hagler vs Leonard and Mayweather vs Pacquiao. To name but a few. A resume par excellence.
Bob Arum net worth
Despite making countless millions for Ali, Duran, Oscar, Floyd and others, it would be foolish to mistake the New Yorker as a purely philanthropic soul who has devoted his life to the welfare of those less fortunate.
Very early on, he realised that vast sums of hard cash that could be made from the noble art, and Arum’s net worth is estimated to be in the ballpark of $300,000,000. Not bad for a kid from Brooklyn.
Primarily, boxing functions as a short-term business compared to other sports, so the fact Arum has been around so long and still sits atop the world’s biggest promotional company as he prepares to morph into a nonagenarian tells you everything you need to know about the man, his energy and his work ethic.
Arum’s Top Rank outfit, which currently boasts promotional ties to Tyson Fury, Terence Crawford, Vasiliy Lomachenko and emerging superstar Teofimo Lopez, is absolutely thriving. Its huge deal with ESPN has proven to be a game-changer. Fury’s pact with ‘The Worldwide Leader’ alone is a reported £80million for five fights.
The deal sent out a clear message that boxing, despite its niche status in the U.S., is now back on the front foot in America and actually thriving in what is a crowded and at times muddled sporting marketplace.
ESPN’s multi-year broadcast and streaming deal with Top Rank has given it some serious leverage, and despite the obvious financial and logistical questions raised by a global pandemic, business is still booming.
Bob Arum family
The sprightly New Yorker had three children (Richard, Elizabeth, and John) with his first wife. Son John tragically died while climbing in the state of Washington in 2010. Colleagues remember John as a brilliant lawyer and one of America’s premier environmental advocates. Richard Arum is a Professor of Sociology who also attended Harvard University.
In 1991 Bob married again and to this day lives happily in Las Vegas with Lovee Arum (previously Lovee duBoef). From this relationship he has two stepchildren in Todd and Dena duBoef. The siblings act as President and Vice-President of Top Rank.
Todd duBoef has been responsible for modernising Top Rank and understands not just the economics of the sport but, just as importantly, its interaction with the new media.
Bob Arum fighters
Having worked with some of the biggest names in history, Arum’s current roster of stars compares favourably to legends of the past such as Ali, Duran, Leonard and De La Hoya:
Vasiliy Lomachenko: The 5ft 7ins ‘Matrix’ lost his lightweight title to Teofimo Lopez recently, but the little man from Ukraine remains one of the most spellbinding talents of the modern area. His ring intelligence, reflexes and subtle nuances in the white-hot heat of battle have left fans open-mouthed since his pro debut in 2013.
‘Loma’ is that rare breed of fighter, someone able to throw five or six punch combinations while controlling the range at all times. His inside game is also as good as any fighter in the sport, but given he is now well past 30 it’s difficult to know just what he has left after spending his life in the ring.
Signature wins over Gary Russell Jr, Nicholas ‘Axe Man’ Walters, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Jorge Linares dictate that whatever he does from here, history will remember him as one of the best ever.
Terence Crawford: Long regarded by many as the finest P4P fighter in the world, Crawford is a special talent who can do it all. A complete competitor who can start fast and jump on opponents in a round or two, or if the mood takes him elect to box at range and showcase a polished jab and slick combinations.
He has moved serenely to 37-0 and has wins over the likes of Yuriorkis Gamboa, Amir Khan and Kell Brook. To this point however, despite facing a slew of good men, he has not had a career-defining fight. A unification showdown with fellow welterweight king Errol Spence would change all that.
Teofimo Lopez: The new unified boss of the lightweight division looks like Arum’s next bona fide superstar. Lopez is a cocksure Honduran-American known as ‘The Takeover’ and he lived up to his quirky ring moniker by unanimously outpointing Lomachenko in his last fight in October 2020.
Not only did he beat the great Lomachenko, he looked comfortable in doing so. It was a display of mastery and maturity against an opponent with infinitely more experience. His lead left hook is a thing of beauty, but that Lopez right hand down the pipe is his honey punch.
Power, speed, accuracy and big cojones saw him arrive at boxing’s top table in 2020 and his talent, and earning power, seemingly have no ceiling.
Shockingly, Lopez will be lost to Top Rank for his next fight – a mandatory IBF title defence against Australian George Kambosos Jr. The bout went to purse bids after Lopez balked at Top Rank’s offer. Eddie Hearn and Matchroom decided to bid, but they too were blown out of the water by a huge $6.02million bid from Triller (which staged the Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr exhibition last November).
Best of the Rest: The Top Rank stable oozes quality and quantity with men such as bone-crunching light-heavyweight ruler Artur Beterbiev, WBC super-featherweight boss Miguel Berchelt, WBC and WBO super-lightweight champion Jose Ramirez and rising super-lightweight talent Julian ‘Hammer Hands’ Rodriguez all currently guided by Arum’s well-oiled machine.
They have the perfect platform on ESPN to pursue their dreams and secure their respective financial futures.
Bob Arum and Tyson Fury
Quite literally the biggest Top Rank star is 6ft 9ins Tyson Fury, the unbeaten ‘Gypsy King’ regarded as the man who beat the man who beat the man following that 2015 heavyweight title win over Wladimir Klitschko in Germany.
Even in this era of ‘super heavyweights’, Fury’s sheer dimensions allied to a brilliant ring IQ make him the standout big man in world boxing right now.
Fury (now 30-0-1) signed a multi-year deal with Top Rank while in the midst of negotiations for his rematch with Deontay Wilder, and as a result all his fights since then have been on the ESPN platform in the US. Top Rank co-promotes Fury along with Frank Warren’s UK-based Queensberry Promotions.
The huge February 2019 deal was understood to cover Fury’s next five fights, and was a clear indication how Fury’s stock had risen in America off the back of his epic first fight with Wilder when he memorably clambered off the floor in the last round but was eventually forced to settle for a majority draw.
He set the record straight with a ferocious display against Wilder in February 2020, yet a night of thrilling violence was tempered by the hilarious sight of a triumphant Fury placing a microphone in front of Arum before serenading his wife Paris Fury with an impromptu crooning of ‘American Pie’ in the aftermath of his seventh-round TKO win.
Bob Arum vs Don King
Arum and Don King are the most prominent promoters in boxing history. In terms of personalities, they are poles apart and for a long time the pair were like oil and water. A duo who made for strange bedfellows.
However as the years have gone by both men have mellowed towards each other. Both have shown an indomitable spirit and unrivalled staying power in what is and has always been a cutthroat business.
The Hall-of-Fame duo, while always being rivals, have worked together on some memorable PPV attractions and there is a clear professional and personal appreciation of each other nowadays given how they have both endured.
While always streetwise, Arum never had the flamboyance or gregarious nature of King, but for all of The Don’s fistic hyperbole it’s a quote by Arum which has gone on to become one of boxing’s best-remembered lines.
“Yesterday, I was lying. Today I’m telling the truth.”
Legend has it this was a throwaway line which Arum uttered while enjoying a drink with some writers one evening during the promotion of Sugar Ray Leonard’s welterweight title defense against Larry Bonds in Syracuse in 1981. However, it is one King himself would have been proud of and has gone on to become one of the most famous quotes in sports history.
In the 1970s, 80s and 90s King and Arum were basically the only game in town, and while King seems to be winding down his operations globally compared to his 1980s pomp, Arum’s grip on boxing has never been stronger.
Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions
While working as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice under the John F. Kennedy administration, Arum never envisaged a career in boxing. Yet his Top Rank organisation is now the gold standard when it comes to boxing, the world’s biggest promotional company.
The Las Vegas-based outfit has put on over 1500 cards in 22 different countries. Arum has built his boxing empire from the ground up, yet the man himself is not arrogant enough to assume he can do it all by himself. He is on record in stating he has a young, vibrant team around him who are ahead of the curve when it comes to advances in technology.
Arum may be old-school but he’s always looking to the future. For example, he was the first promoter to realise the full potential of the lucrative Hispanic-American market. De La Hoya was the body-beautiful battering ram which helped Top Rank thrive there.
When ‘The Golden Boy’ came out of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics clutching a gold medal and a dazzling smile, truth be told he wasn’t readily accepted by Latinos as one of their own. Slick, intelligent marketing by Arum and others would quickly change all that as between them they blazed a trail in the 1990s.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating effect it had on worldwide sport proved catastrophic for several high-profile promoters. But true to form Top Rank was the first to go back on TV -without fans and behind closed doors in a Las Vegas bubble.
Arum has an impressive team behind him. Stepson Todd duBoef is Top Rank’s President and widely credited as brokering the deal which brought TR back to ESPN (the companies were originally together for a spell in the 1980s when Top Rank developed the first sports series for the then fledgling cable and satellite TV channel).
Senior matchmaker Bruce Trampler – who cut his teeth working with the legendary Angelo Dundee – is one the most respected figures in boxing. They have arguably the best roster of boxers in the business, multiple world champions and could have the undisputed world heavyweight champion by the end of 2021. A year when Arum reaches the grand old age of 90.
Anybody who thought Arum might rest on his laurels after all of that, think again. The new Sky deal runs through to 2025 and it would be no surprise to see one of the greatest promoters of all time still pulling the strings then.
Top Rank and Sky Sports
The four-year pact between Sky Sports and Top Rank saw Arum benefit hugely from the split between the broadcaster and Hearn’s Matchroom.
It will see a minimum of 18 Top Rank shows per year air on Sky in the UK and Ireland, and the broadcaster will also have access to the promoter’s incredible archive of historical content.
Fury though is not included in the pact – his fights in the UK currently air on BT Sport Box Office.
There is the potential through the Sky deal for Top Rank to further establish itself in the UK marketplace by putting on shows actually on these shores.