By Lem Satterfield
Over the course of his nearly 45 years in the business, Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum has worked with Muhammad Ali, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, and substantial portions of the careers of Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Arum masterminded the comeback of George Foreman, who became the oldest man to win a heavyweight championship when he knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th-round at the age of 45 in November 1994.
Most recently, Arum has guided WBO welterweight champion, Manny Pacquiao, to a record eight titles over as many different weight classes as well as into international, worldwide stardom.
But when it comes to his crowning acheivement in the sport of boxing, Arum said that nothing ranks quite as high as silencing his voiceferous promotional rival, Don King, during the post-fight press conference following Felix Trinidad's disputed, majority decision victory over Oscar De La Hoya in 1999.
"My crowning achievement was when De La Hoya fought Trinidad, and Trinidad got the decision, and Don was gloating at the microphone and I pulled the plug," said a chuckling Arum, who promoted De La Hoya. "Nobody could hear him any more. That was my crowning achievement."
King, for his part, considers his premiere moment Ali's dethroning of Foreman as champion by eighth-round knockout in October of 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire -- the famous "Rumble In The Jungle."
"For Ali to pull that off, that was really a crowning achievement. I coined the phrase, 'Every head must bow, and every knee must bend and every tongue must confess that though art the Greatest, and the Greatest of all times, Muhammad Ali,'" said King. "Everybody predicted that he was too old and that he couldn't stand up to this giant of a man, and he came out and he won it.'"
Arum added this morsel.
"What Don doesn't mention one thing," said Arum. "That's that he got that dictator, [then-Zaire President, Mobutu Sese Seko,] to ban me from coming into the country, so, you know, I couldn't see the fight."
Arum and King, who, respectively, turned 79 years old in August and December, spoke while sharing time during a national conference call on Thursday which touted a Showtime pay-per-view, March 12 clash between WBA junior middleweight titlist Miguel Cotto (35-2, 28 knockouts) and Ricardo Mayorga (29-7-1, 22 KOs).
Arum graduated from Harvard with a degree in law, while the once-jailed King, former criminal, has said that he "graduated from the University of The Ghetto."
Their promotional histories also include Muhammad Ali's 14th-round knockout of Joe Frazier in the October, 1975 "Thrilla in Manila," the June, 1980 Roberto Duran decision over Sugar Ray Leonard, the September, and, the April, 2006 Floyd Mayweather unanimous decision over Zab Judah.
"This is vintage. This is like a wine that gets better with age. This one is something that is very gratifying. We're baking a good cake for the public, and it's going to be delicious," said King, calling their reunion, "a return to glory."
"I'm planning for Miguel Cotto to get knocked out," said King. "And after he gets knocked out, then Mayorga goes on and fights Manny Pacquiao. And after he fights Manny Pacquiao, then we go out and we grab whoever Bob has developed."
Hearing King's comments, Arum got into the spirit.
"Do you see? Do you hear? Now that's a promoter," said Arum. "Now I don't see Mayorga beating Cotto."
At that point, King howled with laughter.
"I think Mayorga is good, but I don't think that he's going to beat Miguel Cotto. If he does beat Miguel Cotto, then Mayorga against Manny Pacquiao will be the biggest pay per view event of all time," said Arum. "Don is a good now as he ever was as a salesman. There never has been a better salesman in boxing than Don King."
Although they haven't worked together since Mayweather-Judah, they've been drawn together largely due to their mutual promotional differences with Golden Boy Promotions, whose CEO is Richard Schaefer, and whose president is De La Hoya, a former Olympic gold medalist and world champion.
"It's us against them," said Arum. "At least that's the way that I see it."
In August, Schaefer referred to King as "D-Rex," and to Arum as "B-Rex," comments that an angry Arum called "ludicrous, uncalled for, disrespectful," and "obscene."
The exchange had resulted from developments surrounding King's wooing of Mayweather with the goal of matching him against Arum's eight-division king Manny Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs) in a megabout, this, after negotiations between Arum and Golden Boy Promotions -- on behalf of Mayweather -- had twice failed.
"I mean, King and I both know what we're doing. King and I both know how to promote," said Arum. "And I don't care if we were each only 10 years older, we'd still promote a helluva lot better than this Swiss banker [Schaefer] does."
And King certainly knows how to capture a fighter's interest.
King invited Mayweather to his Florida home for a lavish dinner, but he had the unbeaten fighter at ringside for an HBO-televised main event in August during which Alexander scored a unanimous decision over former WBA king Andriy Kotelnik.
"I wouldn't know how good of a promoter I was if I didn't have Bob Arum. When you have someone like Bob who is very formidable, you can't sit back and rest on your laurels," said King.
"You have to make the next one better than the last one, and Bob has been always right there snipping at me," said King. "So that means that I have to go out there and work that much harder and to be that much more dedicated."
In December, King endured the death of his wife of more than 50 years, Henrietta King, who was 87, in South Florida following a lengthy illness.
The news of Henrietta King's death came during the early promotional activities leading up to a Jan. 29, HBO televised junior welterweight clash during which King's southpaw WBC king Devon Alexander (21-1, 13 KOs) was dethroned by decision by WBO counter part Tim Bradley (27-0, 11 KOs).
Arum, similarly, already had experienced the September, mountain hiking-related death of his 49-year-old son, John Arum, an attorney, during the early part of his promotional tour for the Nov. 13 unanimous decision by Pacquiao, holder of the WBO welterweight and WBC junior middleweight belts, against ex-champ Antonio Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs).
In the wake of their losses, King called Arum, and vice versa.
"We each suffered a tragic loss, but yeah, in life, you have losses," said Arum. "But I know Don King and what a decent caring person he is. Through all of the bulls** that has gone on for 40 years, I've always known that."