Mayweather-Arum: Business Very Personal

By Michael Herron


Mayweather-Arum: Business Very Personal

In the world of boxing, styles make fights, dollars make sense, and business is never personal. Well maybe the first two statements are true but as for the latter, it appears that promoters and fighters have made business more personal than ever. How often do we read the latest headlines and learn that Golden Boy Promotions wont work with Top Rank, or Don King won’t work with Bob Arum, or Mayweather Promotions refuses to do business with DKP and Top Rank etc…Are these simply business decisions gone wrong, or are there indeed some very personal issues preventing desirable match-ups from happening? What is apparent is that these disputes seem to be heightened when it comes to Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Bob Arum.

Fortunately for boxing fans, Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions have “momentarily” settled their differences. As a result, great match-ups like Cotto vs. Mosley, Pacquiao vs. Barrera II, and Pacquiao vs. Marquez II have already taken place. The disputes between De La Hoya and his former promoter seem to have finally been cleared away; the question that remains, however, is can Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Bob Arum make a similar agreement and give the fans the fights they want to see? A lawsuit is now pending in Nevada.

Arum’s recent comments at the Cotto/Gomez post-fight presser suggests that there is no progress being made between the two. His tirade included negative remarks such as, “Mayweather was a great fighter but is not a fighter anymore" Arum also said Mayweather didn’t deserve to be fighter of the year in 2007, that the media encourages his bad behavior like when he throws money at strangers in clubs and yelling F-Bombs. Arum also asserted that “Mayweather is not good for the sport and after seeing Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto tonight, that he (out of fear) has probably taken a ticket to Mars.” In one aspect, Arum is simply promoting his two fighters and hyping their upcoming bout, but in another, he is clearly launching a smear campaign against Mayweather. These types of remarks do not bode well for future business and contractual agreements between their companies. In short, the comments were disrespectful and are guaranteed to set a potential Mayweather vs. Cotto fight back a few years, or even worse, prevent it from happening at all

The source of the dispute stems from Mayweather’s time as a Top Rank fighter. It is also no secret that Mayweather advisor Al Haymon is not on good terms with Arum from past deals. Tim Smith from the Daily News chronicles the initial fallout, Mayweather's contractual buyout, and lawsuits filed between the two camps. Some of the finer points include:

Mayweather claims that Arum shortchanged him on matches against Arturo Gatti in 2005 and Zab Judah in 2006. In the lawsuit, Mayweather said he was due 85% of Top Rank's revenue from the Gatti fight and 80% from the Judah fight. He claims Arum has refused to turn over the records for accounting.

"There's no question we owe him some money," Arum said. "There's no dispute there. But he owes us a lot of money, and the people he's involved with owe us even more. After 98% of the money we owed him was paid, we stopped paying him for a reason.

"We're owed... in the millions. We welcome this lawsuit. We wanted it to be filed. We have counterclaims and cross claims against certain other individuals involved with Mayweather.”

Arum and Mayweather parted ways in 2006 after Mayweather paid $750,000 to buy out his contract. That was triggered by Arum's refusal to guarantee Mayweather $20 million to fight Oscar De La Hoya, another Top Rank client, who successfully sued Arum to get out of his contract in 2001.

Mayweather believes that Arum stymied his career during the time that he was promoting both Mayweather and De La Hoya (from 1996-2001).

With the facts laid out so well, it is unnecessary to embellish the data. It is evident their dispute rages as a result of unresolved legal issues; money that is owed, fights that weren’t made, and respect that has been lost. Despite Arum’s attempt to sway public opinion, the data clearly disproves his claim that Mayweather is somehow “fearful” and is “ducking” Miguel Cotto. If anything, Mayweather is asserting his independence and is showing confidence in his newly acquired ability to do business with his interest, not Top Rank’s in mind.

As part of his smear campaign against Floyd, Arum often states that “Mayweather does not want to fight Cotto,” but he never quite confirms that “Cotto wants to fight Mayweather.” A better question would be does Arum truly want Mayweather to fight Cotto? If so, why hasn’t he made Floyd and offer? The 8 million dollar offer to fight Antonio Margarito in 2006 is well documented but where are the 10-20 million dollar proposals to fight Cotto? Could it be that Arum realizes the match-up is a potential lose-lose situation for Top Rank? Is the risk worth the reward? Mayweather will certainly gear all the pre-fight negotiations in his favor--from the money split, to the size of the ring, gloves, weight, location, etc...Also, it’s expected that Mayweather will not give Arum any options on future fights. Finally, if Cotto is soundly defeated, Top Rank loses their top prospect. His unblemished record will be gone, his aura of invincibility gone, and depending on how badly he is defeated, his market value will depreciate.

Knowing that he won’t get the upper hand at the negotiation table, Arum has resulted to insulting, criticizing, and feeding the fans “fearful” nonsense about Mayweather. It should be noted that he utilized these same tactics when De La Hoya left him in 2001. The role reversals have obviously been chipping away at his ego. According to Mayweather’s advisor Leonard Ellerbe, Arum’s “a bitter old man because Floyd outsmarted him,” the evidence suggest that this may be true. So as the flame war continues, it appears this very personal business battle will rage on indefinitely. It took Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank years to work together and it may likewise be the same with Mayweather Promotions. What is unmistakable however is that De La Hoya left Arum and has thrived, Mayweather left Arum and has thrived; would it be ironic if Cotto ultimately did the same? “The world awaits.”


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