By Mitch Abramson
Bob Arum spent nearly as much time talking about Floyd Mayweather’s pending fight with Marcos Maidana as he did talking up his own bout between Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley this past week.
More specifically, Arum spent a lot of air space disparaging the MGM Grand Garden Arena for prominently showing ads for Mayweather’s bout at the expense of the Pacquiao fight.
However, not long after Arum threatened legal action against the MGM Grand for flooding the casino with ads for Mayweather vs. Maidana, the promos were taken down and ones plugging Saturday’s bout between Pacquiao and Bradley were put up.
But Arum was unable to stop the real Marcos Maidana from appearing at the MGM Grand on Saturday in a bold act that served to only intensify the tensions between him and Golden Boy.
Golden Boy, which is promoting the Mayweather bout with Maidana on May 3 at the MGM, staged a press gathering at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant- just hours before Pacquiao defeated Bradley for his WBO welterweight title in the same venue.
Top Rank president Todd DuBoef was taken aback by the decision by Golden Boy to put on a press event the same day as their own, describing it as “disappointing.” Out of respect, promoters usually don’t invade another’s turf when they’re staging a bout but that didn’t apply on Saturday.
“It’s class. I wouldn’t go- I don’t even like being in town when there’s another big fight and I live here,” said DuBoef. “I want to participate in it and in a way it’s a usery type of relationship where they’re using my- it’s one thing to say that, 'Hey we’re going to do something off property. Let’s get a bus and take everybody there and we’ll do a function.' It’s using our promotion stuff for their benefit. 'I’m going to piggyback you pretty good.' Not only that- 'I’m going to go into your hive.' I just think it’s kind of [insensitive]- you need me to help your event.”
DuBoef suggested that Golden Boy must be having a hard time gaining interest for the Mayweather bout, and thus resorted to this sort of tactic to draw attention.
“You’re in trouble,” DuBoef said of Golden Boy, which is a big rival of Top Rank. “Why do you need my stuff?” he went on. “You guys say how great you are and how big of an attraction [Mayweather] is [and] all this stuff. I don’t understand why you need us. So I think it’s most of all disappointing.”
Reached at his home on Friday night, Golden Boy CEO, Richard Schaefer, refused to comment on the situation. “Oh I’m not going to go there- nice try,” Schaefer said, before adding, “I have friends over and I’m not going to make a comment or give an interview about this,” adding, “I’m actually looking forward to watching the fight tomorrow.”
A Golden Boy representative said the decision to have Maidana at the MGM Grand on Saturday was made to take advantage of all the reporters already on the scene and shouldn’t be taken as a jab at Top Rank.
“It just made sense to do it here,” they said. “All of you guys are here so why do it someplace else? I mean, the fight is going to be here so why not have it here? This was a decision made with the MGM so if there’s an issue, they should take it up with the MGM.”
“This is our show today with Maidana,” said his trainer, Robert Garcia on Saturday. “I have nothing to do with tonight. It doesn’t bother me at all [to have it here].”
With arguably the two biggest fights of the year taking place at the same venue and promoted by Golden Boy and Top Rank just weeks apart, it’s not a shock that something like this happened and the two sides would get into it. The commotion got started earlier in the week when Top Rank executives arrived at the MGM to find signage for the Mayweather bout splashed all over the casino with little evidence of their own.
Arum mentioned the fact during the final press conference on Wednesday, calling MGM Resorts Entertainment and Sports executive Richard Sturm the “president of hanging posters and decorations for the wrong fight” and later branding him a “moron” to reporters. Arum then hinted that he might initiate legal action against the MGM for putting his sponsors at risk. And DuBoef confirmed that, “Our counsel has exchanged correspondence with them and that’s basically it,” Duboef said on Friday. “More than anything we just felt that it was real bad form.”
Top Rank’s legal counsel sent the MGM a letter, expressing the company’s concerns that having advertising for a competing bout could hurt the sponsors involved, Top Rank attorney Daniel Petrocelli said. The beer company Corona is sponsoring Mayweather’s bout while rival Tecate is backing Pacquiao. On Friday, there was noticeably more signage for Pacquiao and much less for Mayweather at the MGM.
“I presume that was a result of this issue having been raised,” Petrocelli said in a phone interview. “I simply put them on notice. We were reserving our rights for any claims that we might assert down the road. We’re not looking to have a needless dispute with them but it was a serious issue that we needed to protect the rights of Top Rank and its sponsors.”
Petrocelli said the success of the Pacquiao bout will dictate if further legal action is warranted. “If there’s any fallout from it then we may have a legal issue with them,” Petrocelli said.
DuBoef said it was never explained to him why the casino chose to emphasize the Mayweather bout with its signage over the Pacquiao bout to begin with, even though Pacquiao’s fight was just days away. Contacted on Saturday, the MGM did not respond.
Mitch Abramson covers boxing for The New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com.