By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – After a lot of political pontificating and meandering statements, Don King got to the point Thursday.
The legendary promoter predicted that his fighter, Amir Imam, will knock out Jose Ramirez in their fight for the vacant WBC super lightweight title Saturday night. King – seated next to Bob Arum, Ramirez’s promoter, during a press conference at Madison Square Garden – then told his longtime rival that’ll he grant Arum a second shot at Imam if Arum can arrange an Imam-Manny Pacquiao fight.
“We are here to fight,” King said as the press conference was wrapping up. “We are here to make our mark. We are making a statement here. Amir Imam is gonna go out – and I really hate to say this, but I’ve gotta say it. He’s gonna knock out Jose Ramirez. But we’re gonna give you another chance. Give us Pacquiao. We want anybody that Bob can think about.”
King continued by revealing he has no interest in attempting to promote Pacquiao, the Filipino icon who has been promoted by Arum’s Top Rank Inc. throughout his rise to superstardom in the United States. Pacquiao recently declined Arum’s offer to fight Mike Alvarado, another Top Rank welterweight, on the Terence Crawford-Jeff Horn undercard in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao reportedly was insulted because he was asked to fight on Crawford’s undercard. The 39-year-old Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) has since said that he plans to challenge Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs, 2 NC) for the WBA welterweight title June 24 in Malaysia.
Whoever Pacquiao fights next, King claims he wants him to keep Arum as his promoter. Once bitter rivals, Arum and King, both 86 years old, have been promoting Saturday’s card together all week, seemingly enjoying each other’s company now that they’re at advanced ages.
“People call me and say, ‘You know, Pacquiao and Bob is not getting along. You can go get him yourself,’ ” King said. “I said, ‘I don’t want Pacquiao without Bob.’ I want Bob to be there, with the teardrops in his eyes, when Pacquiao gets [beaten] by this young man sitting beside me, Amir Imam.
“I don’t wanna go with the backstabbing and the midnight rambling and the stabbing in the back. I want Bob to be there with Pacquiao. You know what I mean? So Pacquiao, don’t go for none of that. Just stay with your man. We’re coming out and we’re gonna take command. There ain’t gonna be no question about it, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The 27-year-old Imam (21-1, 18 KOs), of Albany, New York, and the 25-year-old Ramirez (21-0, 16 KOs), of Avenal, California, will headline an ESPN tripleheader Saturday night from The Theater at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.