By Robert Morales
Oscar De La Hoya on Tuesday stood on the dais at the Conga Room in downtown Los Angeles. A news conference promoting the finals of Showtime's bantamweight tournament had just culminated and De La Hoya was rapidly approached by a reporter who wanted to know what he thought of the picture taken at the Super Bowl depicting promoter Bob Arum, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and actor Jamie Foxx smiling big as if they were good buddies.
De La Hoya was asked specifically if he was concerned that somehow Arum and Mayweather could re-connect in a way that would allow Mayweather to fight Manny Pacquiao without Golden Boy Promotions or anyone else representing Mayweather.
"No, no no," De La Hoya said. "I mean, it was just a friendly picture. "Both were at the Super Bowl."
It was of no consequence whatsoever, said De La Hoya, who has promoted Mayweather's past few fights under his Golden Boy Promotions banner.
"Not at all," De La Hoya said. "It put a little smirk on my face, but that's about it."
De La Hoya said he has not been in contact with anyone from Team Mayweather.
"No, Richard Schaefer is the lead guy there," De La Hoya said. "He can give you all the information. Obviously, Richard Schaefer talks to Al Haymon. But again, at the end of the day it's Mayweather's decision."
Schaefer, CEO of De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, also was on hand Tuesday. He laughed when the subject of the photo of Arum, Mayweather and Foxx was broached.
"It's funny, I was asked the same question when I saw Mayweather eating lobster with Don King," said Schaefer, when asked if he was worried Mayweather - who was promoted by Arum for many years - might reunite with Arum to make the Pacquiao fight. "So I wonder if there was any lobster or not."
After he quit chuckling, Schaefer said he has been in contact with Haymon, Mayweather's adviser, but that there was really nothing to report.
"Well, you know, we always hope," said Schaefer, when asked if he is hopeful of promoting Mayweather's next fight. "If you are in the boxing promotion business and you have an opportunity to work with the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, then of course, anyone would be interested."
OK, so De La Hoya and Schaefer are not distressed about this photo and would it could possibly mean. Perhaps they should be, based on what Arum told Boxing.Scene.com during a telephone conversation later Tuesday. We asked Arum if there was enough water under the bridge to where he could do Mayweather-Pacquiao with no other promoter involved should Mayweather approach him with that idea.
Strictly a hypothetical, of course. But his retort was intriguing.
"If he did that, we would be delighted," said Arum, Pacquiao's promoter. "We had a very good relationship for over 10 years with Mayweather. Now, our relationship has been strained, to say the least, over the last few years. But this meeting that we had at the Super Bowl at least unstrained the relationship. It was very, very cordial. We had a lot of laughs.
"And so now at least when we see each other, we'll be friendly to each other and we'll be warm to each other and where it goes from there as far the business, I wouldn't know."
Considering Arum, chairman of Top Rank Inc., would like nothing more than to do Pacquiao-Mayweather without Golden Boy - there is no love lost between the companies - it won't be shocking to see this scenario come to pass.
Shaw, Schaefer Discuss Khan-Bradley
There has been a lot of talk about Timothy Bradley's promotional contract running out and him becoming a free agent. Both of his promoters - Alex Camponovo of Thompson Boxing Promotions and Gary Shaw, confirmed Tuesday there is enough of their respective contracts left that Bradley is not yet a free agent.
Moreover, Shaw and Schaefer said they met Monday at the Golden Boy offices in Los Angeles to discuss the particulars of an Amir Khan-Bradley title unification bout. Khan, promoted by Golden Boy, is scheduled to defend his junior welterweight title on April 16 against Paul McCloskey in England.
(According to Schaefer, that fight at M.E.N. Arena in Manchester sold nearly 10,000 tickets Monday).
"I had a meeting with Gary yesterday and we sort of discussed a potential deal structure, which we think would be fair," Schaefer said. "Now he's going to have to take it back to his side and discuss it with his side and I have to take it back to my side with Khan.
"I've had conversations with Amir's attorney and you know, we'll take it from there. But right now Amir's focus is on Paul McCloskey.... But I can confirm that Gary and me had conversations and to add to that, we had good conversations."
Mum's The Word?
When Shaw was asked about his promotional deal with Bradley, he said he did not want to discuss that on the record. But he kind of did.
"I really don't want to comment," he said. "On the record, I'm trying to make Amir Khan."
Shaw made it sound like Bradley-Khan is nearly a done deal.
"I went to Richard Schaefer's office yesterday at Golden Boy," he said. "I believe that we have pretty much closed the deal. To me, that's what really is important to discuss. Not my life or my contract with Timothy Bradley. ... I still have time remaining on my contract. We're trying to make a big fight for Timmy."
Camponovo and Orange County-based (Calif.) Thompson Boxing began promoting Bradley before Shaw, who had the TV connections and indeed got Bradley on the tube. Camponovo said Thompson also has unfinished business with Bradley.
"He's not a free agent yet," Camponovo said. "We're in communication with him and his management team, mainly his managers. They're not a free agent, so to speak."
Camponovo said Thompson Boxing has at least one more fight with Bradley.
"And then we have other options in our contract that don't make him a free agent agent," he said.
With that said, promoters like Arum won't be touching Bradley with a 10-foot pole until he is.
"To say we had no thought about it would be a lie," Arum said, when asked if he would be interested in signing Bradley. "The question then is, have we acted on it? Obviously, Bradley is a terrific fighter and we would be very pleased to have him join Top Rank. But we have never discussed it with him even remotely, and we will not until he is a free agent and his contract with Gary Shaw is up. Now if Gary in the meantime signs him to a long-term contract, so be it..We're not going to interfere. We are not going to approach him, we are not going to talk to him until he is a free agent."
Bradley did not respond to two voice mails left for him Wednesday.
Making His Point
Shaw was on hand at the Conga Room for the aforementioned bantamweight tournament news conference. (The final two bouts will be held April 23 at Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles). He pulled the old, "We're not making excuses, but..." routine when he spoke about the first-round fights between Vic Darchinyan and Abner Mares and Yonnhy Perez and Joseph Agbeko in December in Tacoma, Wash. Shaw's fighters - Darchinyan and Perez - were on the losing end of 12-round decisions.
Shaw said he didn't want to get into any sour grapes, but that he must have watched the film of Darchinyan and Mares 30 times and that he counted about 27 low blows from Mares.
"Which doesn't make him a dirty fighter, it makes him a smart fighter," Shaw said. "If you can get away with stuff, all the credit in the world."
Of Perez and Agbeko, Shaw reminded reporters that Perez goes back and forth from his training camp near Los Angeles to his home in Colombia and that although "Yonnhy was there physically, I don't think he was there mentally."
That's a tough one to believe because those of us who know Perez believe him to be an emotional rock of Gibraltar. Remember, he's the guy who went to Silence Mabuza's native South Africa and, behind on all scorecards, stopped Mabuza in the 12th round of their bantamweight title elimination fight in May 2009. That earned Perez his first fight at Agbeko, and he defeated Agbeko via decision in October in Las Vegas to win Agbeko's world title.
Perez, who is co-promoted by Thompson Boxing, and Darchinyan will tangle in the consolation bout.
Montiel Back in America
When Nonito Donaire challenges Mexico's Fernando Montiel for his two bantamweight belts on Feb. 19 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (on HBO), it will be the first time Montiel has fought in the U.S. since stopping Ciso Morales in the first round a year ago this month in Las Vegas. Montiel's past two fights were in Mexico, the one before that in Japan. Of his past 10 fights, six have been in Mexico.
During a telephone conversation from his training camp in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico last week, it was brought to Montiel's attention that most Mexican fighters toil mostly in the U.S. once they have reached his level. His response was matter of fact.
"It's just the fact that the opportunities have been in Mexico," he said. "TV Azteca has been after me to fight in Mexico and I think my promoter (Fernando Beltran) in Mexico thinks that is the way to go for my career."
Montiel's U.S.-based promoter is Arum.
"Wherever they tell me to fight, I fight," Montiel said. "This opportunity for me with Donaire is a chance to get back in front of the fans and and show them what I can do."
Getting Close To Big One
Rico "Suave" Ramos will make his fifth television appearance when he takes on Alejandro Valdez (23-4-3, 17 KOs) of Mexico in the super bantamweight main event Friday at Bally's Atlantic City (on Showtime). That's not bad considering Ramos didn't even turn pro until March 2008 - two years and 11 months ago.
Moreover, he is a consensus top 10 fighter, which means his star has been rising rather quickly in that regard, too.
Ramos, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles and had about 130 amateur bouts, said that in one way he is not astonished at his rapid climb in the game.
"I'm not surprised," he said via telephone from Atlantic City on Wednesday. "I just think that my promoters - Al Haymon and Dan Goossen - are moving me the right way. They're just making me take it day by day, step by step."
Ramos is advised by Haymon, promoted by Goossen.
On the other hand, he admitted he thought it might take him a bit longer to crack the top 10.
"I'm surprised being in the top 10 because I thought it would take me another year for something like that," said Ramos, 23, who is 18-0 with 10 knockouts.
But Ramos, a smooth operator who loves to box and use the ring, is there now. Which means it's only a matter of time before he gets his first major title shot.
"I'm ready now, I want it ASAP," Ramos said. "But the same thing as I told you, it's up to my promoters and the way they move me. I know I'm ready and, hopefully, this year I get a title shot."
Morales No. 1?
You want ridiculous? Try this on for size. The WBC released its February ratings this week and guess who was ranked No. 1 to Bradley's super lightweight championship belt? None other than Erik Morales of Mexico.
After losing to David Diaz in August 2007 in a lightweight championship bout, Morales retired for nearly three years before coming back against Jose Alfaro in a welterweight fight last March. He beat Alfaro, then Willie Limond at welterweight and then Francisco Lorenzo at super lightweight. That earned him the No. 1 ranking by the Mexico-based WBC.
And these governing bodies wonder why they have lost all credibility. What a travesty.
Robert Morales covers boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram and BoxingScene.com