Dan Rafael: Cold War
Ethan 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.