Bob Arum, head of the Top Rank, Inc., television promotional firm that handled several of Muhammad Ali's big fights, today countered some charges against him and did some charging of his own.
After Arum appeared on a recent CBS television program, Who's Who, and criticized Don Kings' U.S. Boxing Championships tournament, a consultant to King called Arum to account.
The consultant, Al Braverman, said, "Arum is the guy who put on that Evel Knievel jumping acroos the river. He promised Knievel $6 million and paid him about $100,000. Arum is also the guy who put on that awful thing in Japan between Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki the Wrestler."
Arum admitted from his Park Avenue office today, "It is true that Knievel only got about $1 million (not $100,000). I only said he was getting $6 million for publicity purposes. It was wrong thing to do. It was a gimmick. But we (Top Rank) don't extort money from people."
Arum said he is lining up boxing bouts for CBS, and the other two networks if they also want to bid on them. But declared that "ABC is not in the market to buy any fiths" following Monday's Ali-Alfredo Evangelista title fight in Capital Centre at Largo, Md., until after special in-house investigator Michael Armstrong finishes an inquiry into the suspended tournament the network funded.
ABC officials were not reachable for comment. ABC's self-investigation is expected to last as long as six months.
Arum also said that CBS recently backed off televising about between lightweight champion Esteban de Jesus and Vicente Saldivar, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, because authorities from Puerto Rico sent CBS information that a firm owned by one of Don King's sons was part owner of de Jesus. ABC also reportedly was offered that bout.
Barry Frank, sports chief at CBS, could not be reached for comment on the de Jesus-Saldivar story.
There was a gossip item in the New York Post yesterday that said Arum was huddling with Frank about a boxing tournament designed especially for television.
This, despite the fact that ABC's tournament is suspended because of allegations of scandal and another tournament, World Television Championships, is suspended from an independent television network because, promoter Hank Schwartz said, advertisers were wary about scandals.
Some boxers in the WTC tournament have reported their checks for participation in bouts bounced because of insufficient funds.
Arum said of the New York Post report, "Everything is accurate but the tournament part. I wouldn't think of such a thing. I did have lunch today with Barry Frank. We did discuss some bouts we have done and some I would like to do. We (Top Rank) pay the fighters and sell the bouts as packages to the networks.
"I'm anxious to see what kind of ratings the Ken Norton-Duane Bobick bout on the NBC gets after Wednesday night. It's a super match. I understand Madison Square Garden had a $160,000 advance, despite it being on home television in New York. It will draw about 8,000 or 9,000 live fans; that's sensational."