By Michael Marley
Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, who just celebrated the 45th anniversary of his first promotion (1966, Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens, controversial “draft-dodger” Muhammad Ali against Canadian George Chuvalo), has a message for wandering bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire, Jr.
In sum and substance, lawyer Arum did not say all is forgiven. His message is really more of a “come home, Lassie, come home” type signal.
In light of mediator and former California State Superior Court Judge Daniel Weinstein's issuance of an injunction against Top Rank's archrival Golden Boy for the services of the “Filipino Flash,” Arum said he is not to punish the fighter for trying to dump him in favor of the outfit headed up by Oscar De La Hoya and Richard Schaefer.
“My message to Donaire is this, if he wants to be an active fighter, then let's sit down and talk. Through his manager (Cameron Dunkin) or whoever, let's talk about the balance of his contract with us.
“We'll do what we always do, a good job for the fighter. I am not out to punish Donaire. I am not in the punishment business. We will pay him very well and, when the contract is finished, he can stay with us or go elsewhere.
“As far as punishing him, no absolutely not. It's not like Donaire is my whole life. There are other fighters, other things that are important in my life,” Arum said by telephone Wednesday morning from his home in Las Vegas.
“Punshing a fighter is not my style, not our style at Top Rank. We've always been confident that we have a contract which runs into 2013 because of two time periods when Donaire was suspended (due to injury) and then we have a one year extension clause. We can sit down and determine what the actual cutoff point is.
“If Donaire or any fighter finishes a contract with us, and then that fighter goes with Golden Boy or anyone else, that is OK,” Arum said.
“I've never minded a fighter moving along like that. That is the essence of the business, the essence of boxing.
“What Donaire did, well I cannot say it made me happy. You live up to your contract whether you're the fighter or the promoter.”
Arum said his company policy is to steer clear of inking a fighter who even has an ambiguous contract which might lead to expensive litigation.
“We got a call from a heavyweight recently who wanted to sign with us. First thing we did was call his promoter. If there is any kind of a chance it will go to court, then we just walk away from the situation.”
It should be pointed out that Donaire may still seek to challenge the validity of his Top Rank deal in a Las Vegas court.
Golden Boy lawyer Judd Burstein, calling Weinstein's ruling a legal first round, said the Fil Am boxer would do just that.
"Burstein doesn't care if this goes on for five or six years," Arum said. "That way he generates more legal fees. This (fighting onward) is not something to be determined by any attorney, it's a decision for the other promoter and for the fighter.
"Richard Schaefer can decide if he wants to keep throwing money at this thing. I can tell you, it is not cheap. And if Donaire keeps the battle up, then he may be inactive.
"So this is a decision to be made by Golden Boy and by Donaire, not by Burstein," Arum said.
During the Golden Boy-Top Rank flareup, both sides seemed to be trying to make a May 28 world title unification bout for Donaire.
Tags: Bob Arum , Nonito Donaire , Top Rank , Golden Boy Promotions