Thursday, April 10, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Manny Pacquiao is done talking about Floyd Mayweather Jr. His promoter’s not.
Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, bookended the final press conference ahead of Saturday’s rematch between Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley lambasting Mayweather. Arum made sure he was within earshot of the microphone at the Hollywood Theatre in the MGM Grand to ask Bradley a question as the WBO welterweight champion stepped away from the podium after concluding his remarks.
“Why didn’t you ask when the guy whose picture is up all over the building would fight someone real?” Arum snipped.
Bradley snickered and answered that he would leave that activity to Arum. It was a wise choice because Arum had plenty to say.
He took aim not only at his former fighter but also the MGM Grand, where shrines of Mayweather include a display case of memorabilia in the lobby. Mayweather fights Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 3, exactly three weeks after Pacquiao vs. Bradley II.
Arum took issue with banners of Mayweather adorning the side of the resort with less prominent placement for Pacquiao and Bradley, and he made it known immediately at the press conference. Arum referred to Richard Sturm, president of sports and entertainment for MGM Resorts International, mockingly to start.
“It’s a pleasure to introduce the president of hanging posters and decorations for the wrong fight,” Arum said.
Sturm was rattled, understandably sitting stoically throughout the barbs while everyone else on the stage burst into laughter, but kept cordial with his comments. Arum’s resentment likely caught him off guard, as it was something new as contrasted with the long-running Mayweather rift.
The fractured relationship between boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighter and the fight game’s most well-known promoter has been the story of the sport for several years. It’s the primary reason why a bout between Pacquiao and Mayweather, probably the most lucrative matchup in the history of boxing, has never happened.
Arum and Mayweather discontinued negotiations for the bout nearly four years ago, and it’s unlikely they’ll ever resume. The 37-year-old Mayweather says he will fight four more times, the length of his current contract with Showtime, before retiring.
Pacquiao, 35, could walk away from boxing sooner than that. He said he would keep fighting if he beat Bradley this weekend but would need to confer with trainer Freddie Roach on his future if he loses.
“If that happens, we’ll have that discussion,” Roach said. “Me and Manny are pretty close. He asked me, ‘When I’m done, are you going to tell me?’ I said, ‘Of course, I will.’”
Pacquiao enters the second Bradley fight off of a unanimous-decision win over Brandon Rios last November in Macau. But the famous Filipino had lost two in a row before that, getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth fight and suffering one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history against Bradley.
Despite the vast majority of people believing Pacquiao won, Bradley was able to find some success in the first bout. As a result, the odds are more than twice as close this weekend.
Whereas Pacquiao was a 5-to-1 favorite against Bradley in June 2012, sports books have him down to 2-to-1 currently. Arum repeatedly compared the Pacquiao vs. Bradley II betting line to Mayweather vs. Maidana, in which the former is favored at 12-to-1. He ran down a list of upcoming Top Rank bouts and heralded their competiveness over Mayweather’s next fight.
“These are all fights that are even money or 2-to-1, unlike 15-to-1 fights with a big guy who ought to be locked up for the way he tweets,” Arum said.
Mayweather is enemy No. 1 for Arum, who now sees MGM Grand as a glorified member of “The Money Team.” Top Rank has used Las Vegas' Venetian as the host hotel for smaller cards and the Macau location for major events.
Although Arum’s frustration will probably boil over, it’s worth wondering whether he’ll base more cards a couple of miles north on the Strip in the future.
“I know at the Venetian they wouldn’t make a mistake like this,” Arum said. “They know what fight they were scheduled for in three or four days, and they wouldn’t have a 12-to-1 fight all over the building that’s going to take place three weeks from next Saturday. But that’s why one company makes a billion dollars a quarter and the other hustles to pay its debt.”
Arum losing his cool and going off on a blunt outburst is nothing new. Timing is the only strange part of the latest episode, as it momentarily shifted attention away from the biggest rematch of the year and onto the biggest fight that may never happen.
“If whatever I said was incendiary,” the 82-year-old Arum said, “I’m an old guy and I apologize.”