By Robert Morales
This ongoing saga with promoter Bob Arum and bantamweight world champion Nonito Donaire is far from over. But assuming Donaire reluctantly goes back to Arum as per an arbitration decision that enjoins Golden Boy Promotions from representing Donaire, it'll be interesting to see how Arum deals with a fighter who wanted to leave him.
One of the toughest things to get past could be the remark attributed Arum regarding Donaire's wife, Rachel. A recent conversation at Manny Pacquiao's training camp in the Philippines had Arum referring to Rachel Donaire as someone who dresses "all tarted up."
Arum was asked Tuesday if he regretted going there. He said he does, but that it was important to know that he did not go out of his way to insult Donaire's wife. It was his way of defending Jinkee Pacquiao, wife of Manny.
"Yeah, I did it because this was a conversation we were having when I was in Baguio City in the Philippines," Arum said. "And they said she (Rachel) made comments about Jinkee's dress and it was more in defense of Jinkee than an attack on Rachel.
"It came out like an attack on Rachel, but it was a comment meant as a defense of Jinkee."
At this point, that may not matter. Unless Donaire is somehow able to go to court and free himself of his contract with Arum's Top Rank Inc., he is going to have to go back to Arum after having signed with Golden Boy the middle of last month.
Arum said from his standpoint, business is business.
"Well, no doubt the relationship is strained," Arum said. "But as far as we're concerned, we'll just do a good job promoting him, get him the right fights, put him in fights that get him maximum exposure. We're professionals, we'll do the best possible job for him.
"It's unfortunate the relationship is strained. But this is not like a marriage. This is like a business relationship and we will continue to do all we can to enhance his career."
Arum was asked if he has been in a similar situation before during his 45 years promoting.
"I think so, probably," he said. "I can't recall a certain example, but it's got to have happened in the past."
De La Hoya Speaks
This is now twice that retired judge Daniel Weinstein has ruled in favor of Top Rank and against Golden Boy in arbitration hearings; the first time was when Weinstein in 2007 decided Top Rank would promote Pacquiao, not Golden Boy.
Oscar De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy, was queried about the Donaire situation as he played host to an Abner Mares workout last week in Maywood (near Los Angeles).
"Well, obviously, I can't really go into detail or discuss anything about this whole legality with Donaire," De La Hoya said. "But at the end of the day, the truth will prevail. So, hey, Donaire is an amazing champion. We believe in him and we're behind him 100 percent. And that's all I can say, but the truth will prevail."
De La Hoya was asked if he believes Donaire will somehow end up at Golden Boy.
"Well, we're confident that the right thing is going to happen at the end," he said. "And this is not the end."
Then, it was as if everything that has been bugging De La Hoya about Arum - his former promoter - overwhelmed him and he began to vent.
"Really, every time Bob's involved in something, every time, it's always negative," De La Hoya said. "Negative, negative, negative. And I'm really sick and tired of it because it really is about boxing, about making sure we put on the best fights. Look, we have no problem making the fights.
"It's always Bob making excuses for not making fights happen. Bob will always be known as that guy who lied yesterday and told the truth today. It's like the (Shane) Mosley fight (coming up against Pacquiao on May 7). He said Mosley was shot. Now all of a sudden, he's not? He said Juan Manuel Marquez is not a worthy opponent for Pacquiao, and all of a sudden he is?
"I'm sick and tired of it. He can go on and do his promotions with Top Rank with hisfighters, and we're going to do just what's best for boxing and try to make the best fights possible."
Mosley left Golden Boy because he wanted to get the fight with Pacquiao he knew he might not get if he still fought for Golden Boy because of the hateful relationship De La Hoya and Arum have. Marquez might be waiting to see the result of Pacquiao-Mosley next month. If Pacquiao wins, Golden Boy will be hard-pressed to retain Marquez, who is nearing the end of his contract with De La Hoya's company; reportedly, Golden Boy can match any offer Marquez receives through next February.
Marquez covets that third fight against Pacquiao almost more than life itself, and he's going to do what he has to do to get it. The next fight Arum might be promoting could be Pacquiao-Marquez III, without Golden Boy in the mix.
Speaking of fights not being made, a natural would be for Donaire and Abner Mares to square off should Mares be able to emerge victorious over world champion Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko on April 23 at Nokia Theatre in the Showtime bantamweight tournament finale in downtown Los Angeles.
But wait, Mares is promoted by Golden Boy. That means that as long as Donaire is fighting for Top Rank, that fight probably will not get made. Frank Espinoza, co-manager of Mares, said it's disappointing that a premiere fight like that can't take place because of a beef between two promoters.
Espinoza believes he has a solution.
"I've said before, this is where the media plays a big part," he said. "And the fans have to demand these kinds of fights in order to convince these promoters that these fights should happen. True, isn't it? I mean, if the media is on them..."
Nice thought, but the way this relationship between Arum and De La Hoya and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer is right now, it's doubtful anything fans or reporters might say will change anything.
Lil Abner Brimming With Self-Assurance
Mares is coming off his biggest victory, a split-decision over hard-hitting Vic Darchinyan last December in Tacoma, Wash. After he finished working out in Maywood, he talked about what the victory did for him.
"That fight gave me a lot of confidence, a lot of motivation that I won against one of the best," he said. "A lot of people thought I was going to lose, and I proved them wrong.
Now I'm here, I'm fighting bigger fighters, legitimate fighters and again, I'm here to prove myself."
De La Hoya's company has been promoting Mares since he turned pro in January 2005. He has watched as Mares has blossomed into the real deal.
"The best is yet to come for Abner," De La Hoya said. "We're extremely proud that he's technically sound and the way he's developed. He's got a long way to go. Abner can be one of those fighters who can jump up maybe one or two more weight divisions and become world champion.
"We're very happy with him. He's happy with us. Abner is going to be a great champion and I can see it with his demeanor, I can see it in his eyes. He's serious about winning that world title and I'm very optimistic that it's going to happen."
It does appear that Mares is indeed very happy at Golden Boy, and that he might not be one of those fighters who leaves because he can't get a certain fight. He was asked that De La Hoya's high praise on him means, and he came with his own list of compliments for his boss.
"It means everything to me; I thank Oscar for everything," Mares said. "He's pretty much the one who has promoted my whole career since day one. He's helped me to get to where I am. And I'm just grateful with him.
"God has blessed me to put me with someone such as him, with a good heart. And aside from being a promoter, he's a great human being and he's helped me. And by him saying all that stuff just, again, motivates me a lot more and makes me want to train harder and not prove him wrong."
Mares probably won't have an easy time with Agbeko, who reclaimed his bantamweight world title with a unanimous decision over Yonnhy Perez in the first round of the Showtime bantamweight tournament on that aforementioned card in Tacoma.
Agbeko had lost his title to Perez on Oct. 31, 2009 in Las Vegas, dropping a unanimous decision by five, seven and seven points on the scorecards. Inactive for 14 months, Agbeko came back to beat Perez by two, four and six points.
That's the mark of a true champion, winning the title after having lost it. This is not lost on Mares.
"It's a really competitive fight, it's a great fight," said Mares, 25, of Hawaiian Gardens (near Los Angeles). "Agbeko is a tremendous fighter. Not just anyone can lose a fight, a title, and come back stronger, like he did.
"He proved it against Yonnhy, he snatched the title away. He has it and I'm sure he's going to come with everything because he wants to keep it again. And that's what I want. I want a competitive fight. I want to prove to everybody that I'm fighting good champions, not an almost-career-over champion."
Agbeko, 31, is from the Bronx via Ghana. He is 28-2 with 22 knockouts.
Goossen: Ward on Right Track
Andre Ward is a super middleweight world champion, and he's a consensus top 10 pound-for-pound fighter. Yet, Ward isn't one of those fighters that people seem to be talking a lot about. He doesn't talk much trash, and he only has medium power. In this day and age, that seems to be enough to keep a boxer in the back of people's minds, instead of the front.
But Dan Goossen, Ward's promoter, is not concerned in the least about the lack of buzz regarding Ward (23-0, 13 KOs), who will defend his title against Arthur Abraham in Showtime's Super Six tournament on May 14 at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
"Time is on our side and from that standpoint, we're on a road to getting that recognition," Goossen said. "People don't realize it, but you take a Pacquiao. How many years did it take him in his career before people really started to take notice and talk about him?
"We have had 23 fights with Andre and really didn't break him out until mid-2008 when he fought (Edison) Miranda. This tournament was specifically designed to put him on the map and we believe he's on the map. The next step is to win the tournament, which I believe will push him toward that recognition of being someone that a lot more people know who he is."
Goossen pointed out that Ward lives a more family oriented lifestyle, and that he doesn't make a lot of noise during promotions the way Ricardo Mayorga and James Toney always have.
"A little more time will allow that classiness and charismatic personality to show through," Goossen said. "I look at him the way I did Sugar Ray Leonard, with the class and charisma. I think he is going to change the perception of your typical boxer. Manny Pacquiao has done a great job of it. He is classy, respectful. People love him."
Robert Morales covers boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, and BoxingScene.com