“Today’s episode is a little bit of a departure from the country/Americana-type guests I usually interview,” Chris Shiflett admits during the opening moments of this week’s Walking the Floor podcast, which finds the musician speaking with longtime boxing promoter Bob Arum.
He’s right. Apart from a few bars of the Survivor staple (and Rocky III theme) “Eye of the Tiger,” there’s no music here. Instead, Arum and Shiflett dive deep into a half-century’s worth of professional boxing. As the CEO of Top Rank, Arum has spent his adulthood promoting some of the top fighters in the business, including Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Ray Mancini. He shares those stories here, during an extensive conversation that weighs in at 90 minutes.
A former tax lawyer for the U.S. Justice Department, Arum is a fan of numbers and statistics. Appropriately, he talks about boxing in businesslike terms, offering frank answers about Top Rank’s demographics, sponsorships, challenges and triumphs. At the same time, he’s a clear fan of the sport. Asked about his upcoming fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux, he breaks down each boxer’s typical behavior in the ring, roping everything from size to nationality into the conversation. He also drops some hints for anyone hoping to succeed the 85-year-old Arum in the boxing promotion business, explaining some of the tricks behind his trade. Want to know why marketing a fighter from rural Nebraska is easier than marketing someone from New York City? You’ll have to listen to find out.
The upcoming Lomachenko/Rigondeaux battle will be aired for free on ESPN, a move that Arum claims is crucial in preserving the sport’s wide audience. Days before the fight, we’re premiering Arum’s episode of Walking the Floor.