Dan Rafael: Bob Arum

LAS VEGAS -- When Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya paid a visit a couple of months ago to the Los Angeles home of Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, it was to put the years of animosity behind them, not to talk any specific business.

After all, for many years they had been a great team. Between De La Hoya's work in the ring and Arum's brilliant promotion of him they made hundreds of millions of dollars together and tons of big fights.

[+] EnlargeBob Arum, Oscar De La Hoya
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesAfter years of division between them, promoters Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya are looking to potentially work together.
But the relationship ultimately went south, De La Hoya went out on his own, and the Top Rank-Golden Boy so-called cold war raged. It had a detrimental impact on boxing over the past several years because the companies refused to match their fighters against other, depriving fans of numerous fights we all wanted to see.

When De La Hoya decided he wanted to make amends and open the door to working together, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer was adamantly against it. He didn't trust Arum and didn't like him either. It was a major bone of contention between De La Hoya and Schaefer and one of the many reasons Schaefer resigned from Golden Boy in an acrimonious split in early June.

With Schaefer gone, De La Hoya reached out to Arum for the initial meeting, which went well as they reminisced about the many good times they had together.

On Thursday, things turned more serious as De La Hoya -- in Las Vegas because Golden Boy is co-promoting Saturday night's Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana rematch at the MGM Grand -- paid a visit to Top Rank's offices and met with Arum and Top Rank president Todd duBoef, Arum's stepson.

Unlike the meeting to bury the hatchet, this one was about business, their first in many years.

"It was a good meeting," De La Hoya told ESPN.com inside the media center at the MGM Grand on Friday. "[We are] just basically opening the doors to working together, to possibly making fights that are worth watching."

So, any fights in particular?

"Well, obviously Canelo came up," De La Hoya said of Canelo Alvarez, Golden Boy's biggest star, whose eventual showdown with middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, who is aligned with Top Rank, seems inevitable and is boxing's biggest fight not involving Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. "I told Bob that I'm gonna sit down with Canelo next week. He's flying to L.A. and I'm going to sit down with him. So I have no news there. But we talked about Mikey Garcia, we talked about other fighters. We were just talking boxing. We talked about Abner Mares, various fighters and fights that we could possibly make."

De La Hoya said there are plenty of fan-friendly matches the companies can make with each other and that he is hopeful they will be able to do them. Since De La Hoya has taken over the day-to-day operations of Golden Boy in the wake of Schaefer's resignation, he has preached that the only important thing to him in boxing is to make the best fights for the fans. He can now make it more than just talk -- as long as Arum is up for it also. Arum has said multiple times that he is also willing.

"The way it ended was I told Bob, 'I'll give you a call next week,'" De La Hoya said. "We're gonna see what happens this weekend, we'll see what Canelo wants and then we'll talk.

"There was no dialogue before, so the fact that we are having dialogue, the fact that the doors are open, we're on the right path."
Bradley, ProvodnikovKevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesRuslan Provodnikov couldn't secure an opponent to fight on HBO and could he headed back to Russia for his next bout.

Promoter Artie Pelullo has two significant fighters worthy of HBO’s airtime and support, all-action former junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov and unbeaten junior middleweight titleholder Demetrius Andrade, a former U.S. Olympian and potential pound-for-pound level fighter.

Yet Pelullo has been pushing a boulder uphill when it comes to securing a fall date for either of them, a surprise given that HBO has aired Provodnikov’s last three fights and Andrade’s last two.

Provodnikov’s first appearance on the network resulted in the 2013 fight of the year against Timothy Bradley Jr. followed by his title-winning knockout of Mike Alvarado in another barn burner and then June’s disputed loss to Chris Algieri in another good fight.

Andrade won his title on the network in November, outpointing Vanes Martirosyan, and then looked sensational drilling mandatory challenger Brian Rose on Provodnikov’s June undercard.

Pelullo is making other plans for Provodnikov (23-3, 16 KOs), “The Siberian Rocky” and one of boxing’s most exciting fighters.

“I’ve spoken to HBO, and we were unable to find a fight for Ruslan before the end of the year here in America, so his next fight will probably will be in late November or early December in Russia,” Pelullo told ESPN.com. “It’s unfortunate that we were unable to put a match together in America that met all of our needs. Hopefully, a big fight will open up in 2015 for Ruslan on HBO.”

Pelullo said he tried to work with Top Rank to make several fights but was rebuffed on every opponent: Bradley for a rematch, titleholder Jessie Vargas, Brandon Rios and Diego Chaves.

“I reached out to Top Rank to make one of those fights, any one of them, and Top Rank had no interest in putting any of them in with Ruslan Provodnikov, Pelullo said. "I spoke to [Top Rank’s] Bob Arum and Carl Moretti and there was no interest.”

Andrade (21-0, 14 KOs), who is ready to fight as soon as possible, according to Paul Andrade, his father and trainer, might have better luck than Provodnikov. Pelullo, who co-promotes Andrade with Joe DeGuardia, continues to work with HBO executive Peter Nelson to find him a fall fight.

Pelullo is not limiting the potential fight to a junior middleweight title defense, either. With Peter Quillin vacating his middleweight belt and avoiding mandatory challenger Matt Korobov (for a career-high payday), Pelullo has petitioned the WBO to allow Andrade -- the WBO’s junior middleweight titleholder -- to face Korobov for the vacant title.

“I’ve petitioned them to do the same thing they did with Mikey Garcia when he petitioned the WBO in the exact same situation,” Pelullo said.

When Garcia was stripped of the WBO featherweight belt last year for failing to make weight for a defense against Juan Manuel Lopez, Top Rank, his promoter, petitioned the WBO to make him the mandatory in the next division up the scale so he could face junior lightweight titlist Rocky Martinez. The WBO agreed, and Garcia knocked Martinez out to win the belt.

WBO president Paco Valcarcel told ESPN.com the request is being considered. It should be an easy decision to make.

Andrade, who has followed the rules by making weight, deserves the same consideration given to Garcia in the exact same situation a year ago and be allowed to face Korobov -- another Top Rank fighter -- for the vacant middleweight belt.

Arum: Bradley eyes Chaves fight

September, 4, 2014
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Although Top Rank promoter Bob Arum's main reason for being in New York on Thursday was to wrap up the final stop on the 12-day media tour for the Nov. 22 HBO PPV fight between welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao and junior welterweight titleholder Chris Algieri, he also had other business to attend to.

[+] EnlargeBradley Jr
Chris Farina/Top RankFresh off his first defeat, Timothy Bradley Jr. could return in December against Argentine Diego Chaves, according to promoter Bob Arum.
Arum said he was also planning to meet with HBO executives to go over the schedule for the rest of the year. One of the most significant fighters Top Rank promotes who does not have a fight scheduled yet is former welterweight and junior welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., a priority of the meeting.

Bradley (31-1, 12 KOs), 31, of Palm Springs, California, is coming off a unanimous-decision loss to Pacquiao, who regained his title in their April rematch.

Arum told ESPN.com that Bradley likely would return to HBO on Dec. 6 or Dec. 13 in either Las Vegas or Los Angeles. The opponent most likely to face Bradley, according to Arum, is Diego Chaves (23-2, 19 KOs), 28, of Argentina, a former interim titlist who faced Brandon Rios on Aug. 2 and was disqualified in the ninth round of a bruising fight. It was a very competitive but very dirty fight, with referee Vic Drakulich never establishing control.

"We have agreed with HBO that they will do a Tim Bradley fight in December, either the 6th or the 13th," Arum said. "Diego Chaves isn't finalized but Tim has accepted him as an opponent and we have the terms done. Chaves would be happy to take the fight, but we need to talk to HBO."

Arum said if he can convince HBO to add a second fight to Bradley's card, he will endeavor to convince the network to buy a match between Russian featherweight titlist Evgeny Gradovich (19-0, 9 KOs), 28, and former titlist Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-3, 16 KOs), 33, of South Africa. Vetyeka knocked out Chris John in the sixth round for a major upset to win the belt in December and then lost it to Nonito Donaire by fifth-round technical decision on May 31 in Macau, China.

"We have an opponent for Gradovich, Simpiwe. We made the match, but now we have to sell it," Arum said.

Arum said if he can't work it out for the bout to be on Bradley's undercard, he said another possibility would be for it to be on the undercard of lightweight titlist Terence Crawford's Nov. 29 defense on HBO.

Canelo headed back to HBO?

August, 29, 2014
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Alvarez/LaraJosh Hedges/Getty ImagesCanelo Alvarez could make HBO his next home in November or December.

In late 2013, when Richard Schaefer still ran Golden Boy Promotions, he and Canelo Alvarez announced that Alvarez would fight three times on Showtime PPV this year: March 8, July 26 and Nov. 22.

Indeed, Alvarez knocked out Alfredo Angulo on March 8 and then outpointed Erislandy Lara, albeit on July 12. Both were on Showtime PPV and both did solid numbers -- a little over 300,000 buys -- considering Alvarez had never before headlined a pay-per-view as the A side of the promotion.

But fight No. 3 of this year? Well let’s just say things aren’t what they were a year ago.

Schaefer resigned as Golden Boy CEO, Oscar De La Hoya has taken the day-to-day reins of the company and he is also quietly trying to repair the company’s fractured relationship with HBO, the network that basically put Golden Boy in business and the network on which De La Hoya became a mega PPV star. It is also the network that grew so tired of dealing with Schaefer and adviser Al Haymon, who controlled many of the fighters on Golden Boy’s cards, that HBO banished Golden Boy fighters from the network.

Canelo isn't going to go pay-per-view. We don't want to saturate the market. He's willing to go live on either Showtime or HBO. We'll see. Maybe another network. He has no contract with any network.

-- Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez
And although Showtime has been the exclusive home for Golden Boy’s biggest cards since, behind the scenes there are issues, namely that many of those cards Golden Boy puts on are controlled by Haymon, and De La Hoya isn’t happy about it. Why else do you think we saw the Danny Garcia-Rod Salka/Lamont Peterson-Edgar Santana mess?

Most of Haymon’s fighters who regularly appear on Showtime are not under contract to Golden Boy, even though GB promotes the cards. This was one of the issues that came between De La Hoya and Schaefer.

There was a recent thaw in the Golden Boy/HBO relationship a few weeks ago when it made a deal to televise the Nov. 8 light heavyweight unification fight between Bernard Hopkins, who is with Golden Boy, and Sergey Kovalev, whom HBO has under contract.

As it relates to Alvarez, he is under contract to Golden Boy and not involved with Haymon. And he got his start on premium cable on HBO and, this is most significant, his biggest fight looms with middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, who is aligned with HBO, which plans to carry Cotto's Dec. 13 title defense against an opponent to be determined on HBO PPV.

Alvarez met in recent days with Golden Boy executives to talk about his next fight and I am telling you there is a good chance that it winds up on regular HBO (and not Showtime or Showtime PPV). That would be a big deal and would likely deliver a huge viewership number for HBO.

“We had a very good meeting with Canelo and we’re talking with him about opponents,” Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez told ESPN.com on Friday. “We’re actually waiting for the date. He gave us a couple of dates and we’re looking into everything. But he wants to fight late November or early December. We have to work on it.”

The opponent is not set, but it is no secret that Alvarez could face big banger James Kirkland, whose last fight was on HBO (a knockout last December against Glen Tapia in a wild brawl).

Then Gomez caught me by surprise when he added, “Canelo isn’t going to go pay-per-view. We don’t want to saturate the market. He’s willing to go live on either Showtime or HBO. We’ll see. Maybe another network. He has no contract with any network. We’re working on things.”

Whoa.

That is the first time in a lonnngggg time that anyone in a position of authority has specifically stated that Alvarez was a television free agent and, further, used the H-word (HBO) in relation to his future.

It leads me to believe, without question, that Alvarez is likely headed back to HBO for his next fight. I believe it would be part of a deal that would also lock Alvarez into HBO for multiple fights, including a potential spring or summer 2015 showdown with Cotto for the middleweight title.

Let’s look at the late November and early December schedule, which means Nov. 15, Nov. 22, Nov. 28, Dec. 6 or Dec. 13.

Nov. 22 is out because that is Manny Pacquiao’s HBO PPV date with Chris Algieri. Nov. 28 is out because that is already ticketed for Terence Crawford’s next lightweight title defense on HBO. Dec. 13 is out because that is Cotto’s HBO PPV date.

That tells me that if Alvarez returns to HBO, it means a fight on either Nov. 15, which would be a huge telecast on which to promote Pacquiao’s PPV, or Dec. 6, which would be a great way to promote Cotto’s PPV the following week and remind people that wins by Alvarez and Cotto could lead to the super fight after that.

Now that Top Rank, Cotto’s promoter, and Golden Boy, Alvarez’s promoter, say they are ready, willing and able to make fights together, a Cotto-Alvarez fight could get done on HBO PPV without the involvement of Haymon, whom Top Rank does not work with.

All of this is not to say that Showtime couldn’t make a big offer to keep Alvarez for his next fight, but if I were a betting man here’s my take: Alvarez returns to HBO for a fight on Nov. 15 or Dec. 6 with the big payoff coming in May (Cinco de Mayo weekend) or June (Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend) for the biggest fight in boxing this side of Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao.

Check back with me in a few months to see how well my crystal ball works.
Welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao, junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri and their teams are about to embark on a trip that makes me ill to even think about.

In an effort to promote Pacquiao’s defense against Algieri on Nov. 22 (HBO PPV) at the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena in Macau, China, the fighters, Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, Algieri trainer Tim Lane, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, Algieri co-promoters Joe DeGuardia and Artie Pelullo, Ed Tracy (president and CEO of Sands China Ltd., which owns the Venetian Macao), publicists Fred Sternburg and Lee “Harv” Samuels and support staff will travel 27,273 miles over 12 days to six cities in two countries on a media tour.

The promotional tour kicks off with a news conference Monday at the Venetian Macao. Then they will fly to Shanghai for another news conference Tuesday, as well as an appearance at a card Top Rank is promoting that night at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. It is headlined by Randy Petalcorin against Walter Tello for a vacant interim junior flyweight title.

Then everyone heads to the United States for a series of events Aug. 29 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The schedule includes a news conference, a photo opp with the San Francisco Giants, a Q&A with fans and a pregame ceremony.

On Aug. 30, the group will be at the Venetian in Las Vegas for a private event the casino is putting on. Then it’s off to Los Angeles. Pacquiao will throw out the first pitch for the game between the Dodgers and Washington Nationals on Sept. 1. On Sept. 3, there will be a Los Angeles news conference.

Then it’s cross-country to New York for a news conference Sept. 4, as well as other media appearances. They will close the tour by ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 4.

Then it’s off to training camp.
Moments after Gennady Golovkin drilled Daniel Geale in the third round on Saturday night at New York's Madison Square Garden to retain his middleweight belt for the 11th time, GGG called for a unification fight with Miguel Cotto.

"I am very happy and now I only want unification fights. I want Cotto," Golovkin said. "I want to fight Miguel Cotto and I want to fight him next. I want to prove to the world that without a doubt that I am the best middleweight in the world. That is very important to me."

On June 7, also at MSG, Cotto made boxing history, becoming the first Puerto Rican fighter to win a world title in four weight classes when he dominated and stopped Sergio Martinez in the 10th round to win the legitimate 160-pound championship, along with an alphabet belt.

Golovkin and Cotto are both slated to fight one more time this year but nobody should go holding their breath that it will be against each other, no matter how much Golovkin wants it.

"Certainly, it's up to Miguel who he wants to fight but I think the Canelo [Alvarez] fight is a much more attractive fight," Top Rank's Bob Arum, Cotto's promoter, told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "Even though I love Golovkin and [K2 Promotions managing director] Tom Loeffler -- and nobody can say that Golovkin isn't a great fighter -- it's risk-reward in boxing. We don't know about Golovkin's ability on pay-per-view."

More likely, Golovkin will fight in October or November. Cotto is penciled in to fight again in December at the Garden, and likely not against anyone nearly as tough as Golovkin so as not to jeopardize the possibility of the Alvarez fight next spring.

Gaby Penagaricano, Cotto's adviser, said he wasn't surprised to hear Golovkin call out Cotto and said the fight would be one of the various possibilities they'd consider.

"I saw it on Saturday. Not surprised," Penagaricano told ESPN.com. "Everyone wants to call out the big names, right? We have not begun to discuss options for the next fight. Probably I will be sitting down with Miguel in the coming days to start planning. It's a fight to consider. I am sure we will be discussing it soon among other options."

Golovkin's name is sure to come up, but I just don't happen to think it will be a serious consideration because why would Cotto, who is winding down his great career, gamble by fighting a beast like Golovkin and risk the much bigger payday that would go with a possible fight with Alvarez?

One piece of good news from Arum is that he said Cotto's fight in December probably won't be on pay-per-view, no doubt in part because the numbers for the June fight with Martinez were so disappointing.

"I don't think it will be," Arum said. "I think we have to start doing more live premium television shows, so I don't think this will be on pay-per-view. It would be on HBO. We are meeting with HBO this week in Las Vegas and we'll be talking about it.

"We have to realize that pay-per-view, no matter if it's boxing, MMA or wrestling, the numbers are way down. People aren't buying the pay-per-view like they used to buy. You can see it in Cotto-Martinez, in [Floyd] Mayweather's [relatively] dismal numbers and in [Manny] Pacquiao's less-than-glorious numbers for the [rematch with Timothy] Bradley fight in April."

Abner MaresGene Blevins/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsAbner Mares should be rooting for peace between Golden Boy and Top Rank.

If there is one fighter in the Golden Boy Promotions stable who might benefit the most from the newfound peace between Golden Boy’s Oscar De La Hoya and Top Rank’s Bob Arum, it is clearly former three-division titleholder Abner Mares.

De La Hoya and Arum recently put aside years of animosity and pledged to work together on fights, at least where they make sense. That is music to Mares’ ears, since he has few marquee featherweights available to him in the Golden Boy stable while Top Rank has several of whom would make for interesting and marketable fights.

First, Mares (26-1-1, 14 KOs) needs to bounce back with a win against Jonathan Oquendo (24-3, 16 KOs) in their scheduled 10-round bout, in the co-feature of the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara junior middleweight fight on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

This will be Mares' first time fighting in the 11 months since he lost his featherweight belt by first-round knockout to Jhonny Gonzalez. But if Mares comes through, there could be potential fights against a quartet of Top Rank featherweight titleholders: Nonito Donaire (a fight that was one of boxing’s most anticipated bouts, but it didn’t happen because of the bad blood between companies), Vasyl Lomachenko, Evgeny Gradovich and Nicholas Walters.

“Obviously, you've heard the news, my promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, is looking to work with Top Rank on fights in the future and, look, they have great fighters, great champions,” Mares said. “I feel very comfortable at 126 [pounds] right now. That's what I have in front of me right now, and I have an opponent [Oquendo] that I'm concentrating on him.”

Mares would like to fight for a world title in a fourth weight class at some point, but he said he plans to stay at featherweight for the time being. Ideally, it would mean facing at least one of those Top Rank titleholders.

“I want to go in for the fourth division [title], but sometimes when you think with the heart only, it can run into mistakes and it could cost you,” he said. “It could have cost me a loss right there. So, right now, I'm making the weight very comfortable. I'm very happy at 126 and we're going to continue here.”
The featherweight division is getting hot, and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum plans to take advantage of that.

On May 31 in Macau, Arum promoted a card on which Nonito Donaire won a 126-pound world title via fifth-round technical decision against Simpiwe Vetyeka in the main event. On the undercard two other featherweight titleholders promoted by Arum -- Evgeny Gradovich and Nicholas Walters -- looked good in title defenses of a show that was appropriately dubbed “Featherweight Fury.”

Then this past Saturday night, Vasyl Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, looked sensational as he outpointed Gary Russell Jr. in surprisingly easy fashion to win a vacant featherweight belt in just his third professional fight. That achievement matched the all-time boxing record for fewest fights to a title.

Throw in the fact that Top Rank also is talking to the handlers of titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez and has a good relationship with the Vetyeka camp and there are a lot of quality matchups that can be made in the division -– and made rather easily.

Arum intends to put some of those fights together, with Donaire and Lomachenko as the centerpieces.

“Lomachenko is a great fighter; that’s what we’ve been saying,” Arum said. “HBO is very high on him, and now we have the opportunity to put together a quasi-tournament with all of these great featherweights. Featherweight happens to be a loaded division. There are some big names in the division, and they don’t bust the bank like some of these fighters do in other divisions, so the matches are makeable as far from a money standpoint.”

Arum said he will soon talk to HBO about the direction it wants to go, but he said some of the fights will happen beginning later this year.

“I need to talk to the HBO guys and to the fighters, and we need to see who’s willing to fight who. Who would like to fight who? What fights HBO wants,” Arum said. “There are a lot of things to discuss, but I want to make these fights and HBO has indicated to us that they are interested and looking very heavily at the featherweight division.

“It gives them the opportunity -– for not crazy money -- to do some good, high-profile fights. A lot of people think Lomachenko is the best of the featherweights. You have Donaire there. He’s a great fighter. I know HBO is excited about it. So we’ll sit down and figure out how to proceed.”
Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl LomachenkoGene Blevins/Hoganphotos/Golden BoyAlthough it came together thanks to a purse bid, Saturday's Gary Russell Jr.-Vasyl Lomachenko bout could go down as the beginning of a new relationship between promoters Golden Boy and Top Rank.
Now that Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya and Top Rank boss Bob Arum are cozy again, and both say that they are willing to do business with each other, it seems as though this particular boxing cold war is over.

A lot of interesting fights are probably still off the table if adviser Al Haymon, whose relationship with Arum has been in the toilet for years, is involved -- but whatever fighters are under contract to Golden Boy can probably be matched now with Top Rank if it makes sense.

A few months before De La Hoya and Arum made peace, Golden Boy won a purse bid for the vacant featherweight title bout between Garry Russell Jr. (a Haymon fighter, by the way) and Vasyl Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic gold medalist with Arum.

The purse bid paved the way for Golden Boy to take control of the fight, which is part of a Showtime tripleheader Saturday night (10 ET), without having to involve Top Rank. But maybe now that De La Hoya and Arum are on good terms more fights like this can happen in the future, especially now that Richard Schaefer, who opposed working with Top Rank, has resigned as Golden Boy CEO.

Now, keep in mind, Arum and Haymon aren't about to begin matching their fighters together, so a lot of good fights are clearly still off the table. But, hey, this is a start.

Russell said he was glad that his fight with Lomachenko, although done under a purse bid, has helped break the ice.

"Honestly, it's a big honor to break the cycle of the Al Haymon and Bob Arum/Top Rank and Golden Boy dissent, because I think you have these great fighters on both sides of the fence that the fans would love to see," he said. "Now it's a possibility to fulfill them or give them a possibility to see it.

"I think it's a big breakthrough for me and Lomachenko to be able to be one of the first to actually do it, and hopefully this will open the door for a lot of the other fights that the fans would want to see take place."

Golden Boy did not have to involve Top Rank in the promotion at all and Lomachenko could have refused to participate in any way. But both camps have done their part, making it a seemingly friendly, drama-free promotion.

Moretti said a lot of the cold war stuff is overblown.

"I think that's what the media and social media likes to jump on but, you know, at the end of the day, I just can't see in the middle of the sixth round guys rooting for Al or Bob," Moretti said. "It's a fight, and the fight Lomachenko has to worry about is Gary Russell and Gary Russell has got to worry about Lomachenko, and anything other than that is just Twitter talk, which people seem to love lately."

De La Hoya has been saying for weeks -- since his meeting of the minds with Arum -- that he wants to promote fights with any promoter that can help him make the biggest bouts for his fighters.

"I think it's wonderful to hear from a fighter like Gary Russell that he wants to engage in these big, major fights, regardless of promoters," De La Hoya said. "That's what it's really all about. It's not about promoters and egos. It's about the fighters and the fans. So, I'm optimistic that in the near future the fight fans will get what they deserve."

Arum sidelined by knee surgery

June, 16, 2014
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Injured fighters having surgery? That’s nothing new. But what about promoters?

On Tuesday in Phoenix, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum will have surgery on his bum right knee -- “It’s been bone on bone and it’s killin’ me,” he said -- when he undergoes a right knee replacement.

The surgery and ensuing rehabilitation means Arum will be off the road for the time being after a long stretch of travel that included fights in Macau and New York, where he hobbled around because of the bad knee.

Arum said he won’t be able to make it to Omaha, Nebraska, for lightweight titlist Terence Crawford’s hometown defense against Yuriorkis Gamboa on June 28. But he hopes to be able to resume his normal schedule in time to travel to Top Rank’s next show in Macau, which is scheduled for July 19 with flyweight Zou Shiming in the main event and junior featherweight titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux making a defense.

Arum said he will be in the hospital for about three days and then will begin his rehab in Phoenix before going to his second home in Los Angeles to continue with his physical therapy.

“I’ll do most of the rehab in L.A. and hopefully I will be well enough to travel to the Macau fight. How could I miss Rigondeaux?” Arum said with a laugh.

Showtime, Top Rank still at odds

June, 10, 2014
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When Oscar De La Hoya was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday in Canastota, New York, he brought up the ongoing promotional battles that have bogged down the sport and prevented some significant fights that fans have wanted to see.

"We must put aside the egos that have damaged our brand and sullied our reputation," he said during his remarks. "We, the promoters, must stop carrying petty grudges that serve no purpose but to divide our sport. And most important, we must give the fans the fights that they want."

De La Hoya is seemingly doing his part. He has reconciled with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, and they both claim they want to do business together again after years of battles. De La Hoya’s desire to work with Arum again was one of the many issues that came between him and Richard Schaefer, who resigned last week as Golden Boy’s CEO; he didn’t want to work with Arum again.

But for anyone who thinks that all is now well, don’t fool yourself. There is still massive pettiness, and it spilled over Tuesday when Showtime Sports boss Stephen Espinoza apparently barred Arum from participating on a media teleconference to promote a Showtime-televised June 21 fight between Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko, who meet for a vacant featherweight title.

Golden Boy, representing Russell, won the rights to the fight in a purse bid before De La Hoya and Arum made up. Golden Boy could have put on the fight without involving Top Rank in anything. But because De La Hoya and Arum have made up, Golden Boy invited Arum to participate in the teleconference to promote the fight. It is common practice for fighters on these calls to be represented by somebody from their promotional company, whether it’s a co-promotion or not.

But, according to Top Rank, Espinoza barred Arum. But it’s not like he barred Top Rank, because Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti participated.

“Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, was scheduled to be on the Vasyl Lomachenko conference call,” Top Rank's spokesman Lee Samuel said. “Stephen Espinoza requested that Arum not be on the call. Carl Moretti will replace Arum.”

Espinoza, on his Twitter account and not to mention time and again in interviews, has stated he is open to working with Top Rank, even though based on the fights he has scheduled it is obvious he has no interest in that at all.

Tuesday’s action made it even more obvious even if Showtime tried to spin that fact in a statement given by email to ESPN.com by spokesman Chris DeBlasio.

“Neither Bob Arum, nor Stephen Espinoza were scheduled to be on [Tuesday’s] media conference call,” DeBlasio wrote. “The June 21 ‘Showtime Championship Boxing’ event is promoted by Golden Boy and, collectively with Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions, we agreed that this was not a platform on which any other promotional outfit belongs. This call is about the fighters on this card that are preparing for important, and competitive fights."

That’s all well and good, but De La Hoya wanted Arum to be on the call. Arum was ticked off by the situation.

“Obviously, I was supposed to be on the call, and Espinoza objected,” Arum told ESPN.com. “It’s the same petty stupidity. It’s the same old, same old. Oscar wants to open everything up and to do business to do the best fights. He sincerely wants that. People like Espinoza are an impediment to that. The fact that I do my fights with HBO means nothing. I’m doing a fight here with Golden Boy because they won the purse bid. Back when we did [Vanes Martirosyan-Erislandy Lara] and we won the purse bid we acknowledged Golden Boy was the promoter of Lara and showed them respect. That’s how it’s done. But it goes back to Espinoza’s mean-spirited nature.

“Golden Boy asked me to be on the call, and Espinoza said no. He decided that I’m not a co-promoter and I shouldn’t be on the call. But it is personally directed at me because he didn’t say Moretti shouldn’t be on the call. He’s afraid of my renewed relationship with Oscar. It’s inexcusable behavior. What does he gain by doing something like that?”

To think that the lineup of speakers on a conference call would turn into a controversy just shows how ridiculous the petty business of boxing often can be.
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When Richard Schaefer resigned as chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions on Monday, it answered only one of the many questions about the situation -- namely, would he leave the company?

The answer was yes, as the long-rumored split between him and company president, co-founder and majority shareholder Oscar De La Hoya came to fruition after months of infighting. But now what? I don’t have all the answers, but I will try my best to answer some of the key questions.

What does this mean for Golden Boy/De La Hoya?

It means Golden Boy has lost the only CEO it has ever known, as well as pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., who has worked with Golden Boy on a fight-by-fight basis since 2007. After Schaefer announced his resignation, Mayweather followed him out the door, saying he would no longer have Golden Boy co-promote his events. That’s a huge financial hit to Golden Boy.

But De La Hoya brought Schaefer into his business and surely will find somebody else to run the company. Can that person be as successful in fostering relationships with networks, venues, sponsors, managers, fighters and media as Schaefer, who presided over the two richest pay-per-view events and two richest gates in boxing history? We’ll see.

Golden Boy still has its output deal with Fox Sports 1 and several quality fighters under contract. With Schaefer out of the picture, the way is clear for De La Hoya and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, his former promoter turned rival, to do business again in the wake of their recent reconciliation.

What does this mean for Schaefer?

Schaefer is a smart, hardworking, relentless businessman. He’ll be just fine. But will he start his own company? Will he go to work for Mayweather Promotions? Will he promote the many Al Haymon-advised fighters he used to promote at Golden Boy but who were not under formal Golden Boy promotional agreements? That was one of the issues that came between Schaefer and De La Hoya. The answers are unknown.

There’s also the question of Schaefer’s contractual status with Golden Boy. Schaefer resigned but remains a shareholder, and De La Hoya’s attorney claims that Schaefer is under contract through March 2018. This could get messy.

Even if a settlement is reached on the supposed signed employment agreement, what about a non-compete clause that would prevent Schaefer from promoting for a certain length of time? Those are hard to enforce in California, where Golden Boy operates. All of this is where the lawyers get involved.

Schaefer has been mum on his plans, but you can count on one thing: He will promote boxing in the future and will probably be successful.

Is Golden Boy going to work with Arum now that Schaefer is out of the way?

The short answer is definitely.

De La Hoya and Arum recently reconciled after many fierce battles between their companies. One of the issues between De La Hoya and Schaefer was De La Hoya’s desire to work with Arum again, and Schaefer’s refusal. With Schaefer gone, it’s only a matter of time until De La Hoya and Arum promote fights together.

The question, however, is: If the companies work together, what kind of fights can they make? It is unclear because nobody knows for sure which fighters Golden Boy has under contract and which fighters are strictly with Haymon. If Golden Boy has many of Haymon’s top welterweights under contract, it could open a good selection of opponents to face Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez.

That brings us to the next question.

What does this mean for the fighters with Haymon who fight regularly on Golden Boy cards but are not under contract to the company?

Haymon could continue working with Golden Boy and leave things status quo. Or, as many expect, he could gut the company and steer those fighters to some other company, namely Mayweather Promotions or perhaps an entity Schaefer may found.

Besides star client Mayweather, Haymon has numerous name fighters in his vast stable. Among those who are associated with Golden Boy: Danny Garcia, Marcos Maidana, Adrien Broner, Lucas Matthysse, Amir Khan, Deontay Wilder, Peter Quillin, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Erislandy Lara, Devon Alexander, Gary Russell Jr., Leo Santa Cruz, Paulie Malignaggi, Sakio Bika, Robert Guerrero, Lamont Peterson, Daniel Jacobs, Andre Berto, Victor Ortiz, Jermell Charlo, Jermall Charlo and Luis Collazo, not to mention 2012 U.S. Olympians Errol Spence Jr. and Marcus Browne, two top prospects.

It is not clear which of those fighters are under contract to Golden Boy, but it is believed that Khan, Guerrero and Alexander are (although my understanding is that Alexander’s June 21 fight is the final fight of his deal). Some fighters are known to not be under contract, including Porter, Thurman, Russell, Berto, Peterson and the Olympians.

Does this have any impact on the possibility of Mayweather-Pacquiao?

None. Mayweather remains under contract to Showtime and is with Haymon. Mayweather has also repeatedly said he would not do business with Arum, who recently re-signed Pacquiao to a two-year contract extension. From what I am told, Arum got financial help from HBO in closing the Pacquiao deal and then pledged loyalty to HBO on Pacquiao fights. The two boxers will keep fighting on different networks, and the same problems remain as far as how to split the money and various other issues. Bottom line: Still no fight.

Is a Pacquiao-Canelo Alvarez fight now possible?

Technically, yes, since it would mean matching a Top Rank fighter with a Golden Boy fighter who is not with Haymon. However, realistically, it is unlikely. Alvarez is on the verge of moving up to middleweight, and Pacquiao, a small welterweight, has talked about moving down to junior welterweight. Besides, after Pacquiao’s tough fight a few years ago with junior middleweight Antonio Margarito, Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach said he would never fight that big of an opponent again. Even if they wanted to make the fight, it is unclear whether HBO has rights to Pacquiao (I believe it does) and whether Showtime has rights to Alvarez (I’m not sure beyond his July 12 fight).

Are any already-scheduled fights going to be canceled now?

No.

Where do Showtime and HBO stand in all of this?

Showtime has been the de facto home for Golden Boy’s major fights for the past couple of years, and Showtime Sports boss Stephen Espinoza is close to De La Hoya and Schaefer -- he used to be Golden Boy’s attorney. So he could continue doing Golden Boy fights if the promotion has the fighters who are ready for prime time. He could also keep working with the Haymon fighters and put on cards involving both factions.

As for HBO, it banned Golden Boy fighters -- and by extension Haymon fighters -- in early 2013 for various reasons. But HBO is also the main outlet for Top Rank’s major fights, and now that Top Rank and Golden Boy likely will work together again I expect Golden Boy fighters will be back on HBO soon. Haymon’s fighters? That’s another story. I don’t see them being welcome on HBO at this point.

Rios, Kovalev returns in works

May, 24, 2014
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Manny Pacquiao and Brandon RiosNicky Loh/Getty ImagesBrandon Rios, left, will be back in the ring Aug. 2 after a tough November loss to Manny Pacquiao.

Former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios is penciled in for his ring return on Aug. 2 on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark.”

Rios, who will fight at welterweight, likely will face former interim titlist Diego Chaves of Argentina on a card that will take place in Las Vegas or in Fresno, California, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com on Friday.

Rios (31-2-1, 23 KOs), 28, of Oxnard, California, will try to end a two-fight losing streak, having been outpointed by Mike Alvarado in their fight of the year contender/rematch in March 2013 followed by a one-sided decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in November in Macau. After the fight with Pacquiao, Rios failed a postfight drug test and was suspended for five months.

“If Rios wins this fight, he will have a major match in the fall, either against Tim Bradley or against Alvarado in a third fight,” Arum said.

Chaves (23-1, 19 KOs), 28, lost his interim belt by 10th-round knockout to Keith Thurman in July in San Antonio but rebounded for a third-round knockout of journeyman Juan Alberto Godoy in Argentina in February.

Jessie Vargas (24-0, 9 KOs), 25, of Las Vegas, is also likely to be on the telecast in his first junior welterweight title defense. He claimed a 140-pound belt April 12 on the Pacquiao-Bradley II undercard by winning a debatable unanimous decision against Khabib Allakhverdiev.

Arum said the leading candidate to face Vargas is another fighter he promotes, Anton Novikov (29-0, 10 KOs), a 26-year-old southpaw from Russia.

The telecast could be a split-site tripleheader. While Rios and Vargas have fights at one site, plans are in the works for light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KOs), 31, of Russia, to make his third defense against an opponent to be determined in Atlantic City, N.J.

Kovalev is coming off a seventh-round knockout of Cedric Agnew on March 29 and had hoped to be moving on to a fall showdown with champion Adonis Stevenson, but that was before Stevenson bolted from HBO to go to Showtime.
Bob Arum, Oscar De La HoyaEthan Miller/Getty ImagesRival promoters Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya have decided to bury the hatchet between them.
As far as Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is concerned, he and Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya have buried the hatchet.

Whether that will pave the way for Top Rank and Golden Boy to do business with each other again remains to be seen, but at least the possibility exists for a thaw in boxing's cold war, which has prevented many attractive fights from happening in recent years.

Arum, of course, promoted De La Hoya for most of his Hall of Fame career but, unless you've been living on Mars or under a rock, you know that there has been terrible bad blood between the companies for years.

Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer and Arum still have no relationship remaining and neither is interested in dealing with each other, which is one of the issues that has driven a wedge between Schaefer and De La Hoya. While Schaefer steadfastly refuses to do business with Arum, De La Hoya, Golden Boy's majority shareholder, said he is open to it now.

De La Hoya, Arum and Todd duBoef, Arum's stepson and Top Rank president, met at Arum's Los Angeles home last week. It was a personal visit, not for business, but the re-engagement certainly left open the possibility of a business relationship.

"Oscar and I hadn't had a serious conversation since he stopped fighting for Top Rank," Arum said, referring to the Bernard Hopkins fight in 2004. "But when we met and talked, we enjoyed it. We had a good time. It was 2 1/2 hours that we spent bullsh------ about the old days. I really enjoyed it. It was very, very enjoyable. I think Oscar also enjoyed it."

Arum said the meeting came together through an intermediary, who reached out to him on De La Hoya's behalf and planned it.

Most of the time in recent years when you would hear either speak about the other it was only to take shots in the media.

Arum did say that De La Hoya called him around Christmas and they spoke for about 15 minutes on the phone. He said that De La Hoya apologized for some of the hateful things he had said about Arum. De La Hoya, who had been in rehab for alcohol and drug dependency, was working his 12-step program, part of which is to reach out to those you have hurt to make amends.

"When he called around Christmas, it was just about the usual thing, I'm sorry if I offended you, the sort of stuff they tell you in the program, but this meeting at my house, this was real," Arum said. "The only business we talked about was that we would look to do business where we could in the future, but nothing specific. And why not? We're friends now. If we can make a match that's a really good match with his fighter and my fighter why wouldn't we do it?

"Now, it doesn't solve a Mayweather-Pacquiao problem. That's on a much different level, but it solves some problems."

As an example, Arum cited featherweight Jayson Velez, who is co-promoted by Cotto Promotions and Golden Boy. Arum and Cotto Promotions wanted to match featherweight titlist Evgeny Gradovich, a Top Rank fighter, with Velez on June 7 on the Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto HBO PPV undercard.

Arum said Cotto Promotions tried to get Golden Boy to allow the fight but that Schaefer wouldn't go for it.

"Schaefer said, 'Absolutely not.' Now, that's not a network problem, that's a problem between promoters," Arum said. "But now that Oscar and I are friends again, that's a fight we could have done. Those types of fights are a start."

Arum said he and De La Hoya didn't rehash the bad times or even apologize to each other for all the hateful things they have said about each other.

"We focused on the good things, on the good experiences," Arum said. "We had years and years of them. It was more us emphasizing the positive. It wasn't a mea culpa for anyone. That wouldn't have been fun. We have a lot of water under the bridge."

During a news conference before the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana fight on Saturday at the MGM Grand, De La Hoya also addressed the situation.

"All business aside I talked to Bob Arum and there is nothing wrong with that because Bob Arum was my promoter for many years and he helped me build my career to what it was," De La Hoya said. "And I'm grateful for that. And so our meeting was nothing to do with business. Our meeting was just to bury the hatchet, to discuss the old times, the great stories we shared together and that's it.

"But it doesn't necessary mean that down the road, down the line, we can't have another meeting. And maybe it will be based on business. But who knows. Maybe I can lay my head on the pillow at night and know I apologized for what I said about Bob. As long as we are moving forward, that's all that it's about for me."

Arum said that as far as he is concerned, the feud with De La Hoya is over.

"It never even really bothered me because I was schooled by the master and that was Don King and I gave back to him as good as I got," Arum said. "If you're in a battle with a real heavyweight everything else was easy, even when we insulted each other. It happened. When you get as old as I am, things happen and you can't take them back."

So what about repairing the rift with Schaefer?

"I'm not going to talk about that," Arum said.

Pacquiao wins, doesn't sell

April, 17, 2014
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Although Manny Pacquiao scored a resounding decision victory against Timothy Bradley Jr. to reclaim his welterweight belt Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the PacMan wasn’t nearly as resounding in terms of his drawing power.

Pacquiao-Bradley II generated almost $1.1 million less in ticket sales than the first fight and represented Pacquiao’s worst gate performance in the past eight fights he has had in Las Vegas, dating to his star-making knockout victory against Oscar De La Hoya in 2008.

Pacquiao-Bradley II generated a live gate of $7,865,100 from 14,099 sold tickets, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. There were 894 unsold tickets and 926 complimentary tickets from the 15,919 available tickets.

When Bradley was given a hugely controversial split decision win against Pacquiao in their first fight in June 2012, also at the MGM Grand, the bout generated a live gate of $8,963,180 from 13,229 tickets sold, with 2,070 unsold tickets and 925 complimentary tickets.

Pacquiao’s fight with De La Hoya was his best gate performance, generating $14,380,300, fourth-best in Nevada history. But the Bradley rematch didn’t come close to his other Las Vegas fights.

Pacquiao’s third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez generated $11,648,300, Marquez IV was $10,888,900, Shane Mosley $8,882,600, Miguel Cotto $8,847,550 and Ricky Hatton $8,832.950.

The figure for Pacquiao-Bradley II was a bit surprising because many figured there would be pent-up demand to see Pacquiao again; he had not fought in the United States since the fourth fight with Marquez in December 2012. His only fight of 2013, a rout of Brandon Rios, took place in Macau.

The HBO PPV numbers have not been disclosed yet and are not expected until at least next week because Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and president Todd duBoef, Arum’s stepson, left the country on a family vacation the day after Pacquiao-Bradley II, and they have not yet discussed the figures with HBO. Pacquiao-Bradley II will be replayed Saturday on HBO beginning at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

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