By Mark Vester
During the media blitz for the May 5 showdown between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., both fighters have taken some shots at their former promoter, Top Rank. After some recent comments made by De La Hoya during a conference call with the press, Top Rank decided to fire back in several newspaper interviews.
A lawsuit filed last year in federal court, if successful, would give Top Rank a cut of the revenue generated by De La Hoya-Mayweather. Top Rank claims in the lawsuit that De La Hoya did not fulfill a provision in his 2004 fight contract for the bout with Bernard Hopkins, that gave Top Rank first-offer and last-refusal negotiating rights to his next fight, which would have been against Ricardo Mayorga. The De La Hoya-Mayorga pay-per-view was promoted by De La Hoya's promotional company, Golden Boy Promotions.
De La Hoya downplayed the promotional skills of Top Rank by stating that his own company would have did a much better job of selling the most successful fight of his career, against Felix Trinidad in 1999 (generating 1.4 million buys, the highest for a non-heavyweight pay-per-view).
"When I fought Trinidad, we didn't have all this," De La Hoya said. "This is the way boxing should be promoted. If Golden Boy Promotions was promoting the Trinidad fight with me, we would have easily done more than 2 million homes."
"If other big events were promoted through Golden Boy, we would have gone through the roof. It just feels different, working with my staff and working with other staffs in the past. We just bring something new and fresh to the table. Those fights I was involved with Chavez, Whitaker, all those fights, they easily should have surpassed the million mark [in pay-per-view sales]. Easy. The way we're promoting, the way we're letting the world know, 'Hey, there's a fight.' We're promoting like no other promoters have promoted."
Todd, president of Top Rank, countered De La Hoya's comments during a recent interview with the New York Post . Top Rank directly promoted or was assigned promotional rights to 39 of De La Hoya's 42 fights as a pro, and 35 of Mayweather's 37.
"If you ask people in this industry, Top Rank is one of the best if not the best promoter in the business," DuBoef said. "What bothers me is the holier-than-thou attitude and thumbing their noses at people that have done more than anything these guys have ever seen. It's sad, and it's very naive. [De La Hoya-Mayweather] was created with 10 years worth of promotion and 15 years worth of promotion by putting up money and taking risks. Almost 98 percent of the fights between the two of them have been promoted by Top Rank. I feel like Matisse and Picasso. We were the artist, and now the public gets to enjoy the benefit."
Bob Arum, founder and CEO of Top Rank, had his own words for both fighters when he spoke with the Grand Rapids Press .
"Of course, I would like to be promoting it. It's a big event and will do very well. But I'm proud I was the one who built this fight," Arum said. They're both totally self-centered people. They only care about what money can buy them, though I can't say Mayweather cares about money, because of the way he spends it."
"But one thing I've got to say about Mayweather, when he left, he was under contract with me, and there was a provision that he could buy his way out. Rather than be like Oscar, and search for some sort of technicality to get out of the contract, he paid his way out. At least that says something good about him and his people, that they honored the contract."
DuBoef told the Grand Rapids Press that both fighters forget all of the support that was given to them by Top Rank, inside and more importantly - outside of the ring.
Many years ago, a California woman alleged that De La Hoya raped her in Mexico when she was 15. De La Hoya denied the allegations, which Top Rank helped go away as the woman's family received some financial compensation.
Mayweather also found himself in some trouble when he was in a fierce contractual battle with former manager James Prince. Top Rank stepped in and advanced him $610,000 to settle with Prince, and also cut Prince a check for 20 percent of Mayweather's $3.05 million dollar purse for fighting Phillip Ndou.
The situation with Prince, a well known figure in the rap world, escalated to a dangerous level when several men showed up to the Top Rank Gym on September 11, 2003 and roughed up Leonard Ellerbe and former camp member Thomas Summers, sending both to the hospital.
Mayweather's camp has never confirmed the story, but both DuBoef and Arum claimed to have saved a "shaken" Floyd Mayweather, Jr., who told DuBoef 'These are bad guys, you have to help me save my family.'
"I said, 'Let me give James a letter of credit,' " Arum said. "And Floyd said -- I'll never forget it -- 'James don't take no letter of credit.' "
When speaking with the Los Angeles Times , Arum told the paper that he made both men the stars they are today. He feels Mayweather should win the fight, but he won't be watching because he predicts a very boring clash of styles.
"Notice the descriptions of these two fighters as stars," Arum said. "Who made these guys stars? I claim credit for that, and that's something to be proud of. I have no intention of going to it, or watching it. It'll be a boring fight. It'll be a technical fight. Floyd is a lot smarter, he'll out-speed Oscar. I don't think it'll be exciting. If I'm wrong, I'll wait a week and watch it on HBO."