By Rick Reeno
Earlier this month, Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum made worldwide headlines with his verbal assault on the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Arum first exploded on April 10th, during the final press conference for the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley HBO Pay-Per-View rematch, which took place at the venue on April 12.
Arum was furious over the venue's heavy display of promotional items related to the upcoming Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Marcos Maidana Showtime Pay-Per-View on May 3rd.
During the end of the press conference, with a stunned Richard Sturm [President of MGM Grand Entertainment] sitting right beside the podium, Arum unleashed his fury.
"I'm not going to say it....the hell with it - I know the Venetian would never make a mistake like this, they knew what fight was scheduled in three or four days and they wouldn't have a 12-1 fight all over the building that's going to take place in three weeks from next Saturday. That's why one company makes a billion dollars a quarter and the other hustles to pay it's debt [referring to the MGM]. There it is, say it like it is," Arum said.
Arum's anger was fueled by the issues that were caused with a major sponsor of the pay-per-view . Although Tecate has paid millions for their sponsorship of Pacquiao-Bradley, rival beer company Corona was widely displayed in the venue as part of the promotional items for Mayweather-Maidana.
"What I am angry about and what concerns me - is Tecate. They spend millions of dollars to promote these fights....[their company] gives money to the MGM, which the MGM isn't gonna get. And the Tecate executives come here and most of the signs are from Mayweather's fight, sponsored by Corona. If they had Floyd Mayweather's picture on the seats of the chairs I wouldn't give a sh*t. It's the fact that there are economic [conflicts]," Arum said.
A few days ago, Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, responded to Arum in a newsletter issued to 62,000 MGM employees. While Murren did not mention Arum by name, the Las Vegas Review Journal indicates that Arum was subject of Murren's comments and he appears to hint at distancing the MGM from future business with Top Rank.
Reacting to what Murren called a "mean-spirited barrage” - the MGM's CEO said - “I don’t approve of bullying by children, and I won’t tolerate it by adults in our workplace. An attack on any of our 62,000 men and women of the MGM army is an attack on all of us. Actions have reactions, and this reaction is that your company will not associate with abusive individuals.”
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who co-promotes Mayweather-Maidana at MGM in two weeks, and also booked the Saul Alvarez-Erislandy Lara pay-per-view at the venue for July 12, applauds Murren for his comments.
"I think it's the right approach from Jim Murren. The words he used, bullying - that's what it was. It was embarrassing and it was bullying. I certainly applaud the MGM for standing up and doing the right thing," Schaefer told BoxingScene.com.
"Have you ever seen, and you've seen me do many press conference, you've never seen me rip somebody publicly like that. You can't do that and then think you can just come back at the turn of a switch....that's what Bob does...switch on, switch off, switch on, switch off. But that's how Bob operates and he's been doing it for a long time. It's about relationships."
Schaefer says the entire problem between Top Rank and the MGM could have easily been avoided. Earlier today, the Golden CEO did a walkthrough in the MGM to ensure the promotional items for Mayweather-Maidana were satisfactory. He explained the entire process that his company takes to avoid this kind of issue.
"I come out here 2, 3 or even 4 months before a fight and sit down with the marketing staff, with Richard [Sturm] and the whole team and we go over the assets. We have a list, it's almost like a booklet now, of assets that we want to see in play. We come here, we discuss them, we discuss who is going to put them together and who is going to deliver them. Are they going to be produced in-house by us, or Showtime or the MGM. What are the deadlines. We start implementing these assets one by one," Schaefer said.
"Then weeks before the fight we come out and look at the assets. We do a walkthrough in the hotel. And then we do it again, like we did today, two weeks before the fight. We look at all the assets with the MGM and [tell them] 'there we need this or there we need that or why is that there,' so when fight week comes there are no surprises. But that's why it is hard work and dedication. It's not only hard work and dedication inside the ring by Floyd, it's hard work and dedication outside the ring by his entire team."
"You go and make sure that these assets are in play. You don't let it come to fight week, when everybody arrives...like Arum did when he arrived from China, because he was surprised that nothing was up. How can that happen? Why didn't your people come out a week, or two, or three before [the fight] - and said [to the MGM] 'Why are the posters not up? Why is this not up or that not up?' Why did they let it get to the fight week."