Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc. said yesterday that Leon Spinks' recent brush with St. Louis police would not affect his scheduled bout with Muhammad Ali Sept. 15 in New Orleans.
Arum said the New Orleans promotion firm, Louisiana Sports Inc., sent the remainder of a $3 million payment yesterday for the rights to the live gate, in a letter of credit drawn on the Bank of New Orleans and confirmed by the Chemical Bank of New York City. Ten percent was paid to Top Rank April 11, when the boxers signed.
Arum said an annoucement probably will be made this week that one of the three major networks has bought the television rights for the United States and Canada. Those rights may bring as much as $7.5 million, a record for a fight.
Spinks was charged Friday with possession of cocaine - a felony - and possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor. Since then, a St. Louis policeman said the value of the alleged substances was about $1.50.
Arum disputed a report that CBS has dropped out of the bidding for the television rights. "That's something," he said. "I had read that there was a conspiracy between CBS and Top Rank to have Spinks fight Ali instead of Ken Norton. Now it's said CBS doesn't want it."
Arum explained that CBS has an option until today to televise the bout at $7.5 million. "CBS has said the option price is too high," he said, "But it is tremendoously interested. If CBS does not exercise its option, it then will bid against the other networks at a lower figure.
"We have a proposed draft agreement from ABC, which I cannot disclose, and we have had extensive conversations with NBC.
"Frank M. Smith Jr. (president of CBS sports) and Barry Frank (senior vice president) met with me and said, 'We will not let this bout go.' They called me again Friday and again on Monday.
"Say, CBS won't pay $7.5 million but will pay $6.5 million. That will be more than enough to pay the two fighters, promotional and training expenses - and there will be some left over."
Spinks and Ali each will receive $5 million. There will be other championship bouts on the card. Besides the revenue from the telecast in the United States and Canada and $3 million from the gate in New Orleans, Top Rank expects to sell foreign television rights for more than $1.5 million.
The record payment from "home," or "free," television was $4.1 million, for the first Spinks-Ali fight, by CBS, Arum said.