Things have been, well, docile, in the run-up to Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley rematch. So Top Rank chairman Bob Arum decided to spice things up at Wednesday’s final news conference by taking a swipe at the host property for the fight — the MGM Grand.
Arum’s none too happy with the fact that he is sharing space within the hotel with his rival, Golden Boy Promotions, which is putting on Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s next fight on May 3 vs. Marcos Maidana, also at the MGM. Wherever you see advertising for Pacquiao-Bradley 2, there’s a Mayweather-Maidana sign close by, if not directly next to the Pacquiao-Bradley signage.
Arum introduced Richard Sturm, the president of entertainment and sports for MGM Resorts as “the guy who hangs posters all over the place of the wrong fight.” He later ripped the MGM, questioning the company’s profit margin while glorifying Las Vegas Sands, whose company Arum also does business with in promoting fights at the Venetian Macau Resort.
“I was truly shocked by Bob’s comments at today’s press conference and honestly disappointed,” said Richard Sturm, president of Entertainment & Sports for MGM Resorts International. “MGM Grand hosted a fight March 8 and has three additional fight events scheduled now through Memorial Day weekend. We always do everything possible to properly promote the events throughout our resorts and over the decades have promoted many, many sporting events with enormous success.”
MGM Resorts International President Bill Hornbuckle added, “Apparently Bob’s definition of respect and class are different than ours.”
Back at the media center, Arum said Sturm told him the reason for the Mayweather-Maidana signage was that the fight wasn’t selling well. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said last week the fight had already done close to $15 million in ticket sales and was close to selling out.
Arum said he was aware of the huge mural of Mayweather that covers the outside of one of the towers and is some 25 stories tall. That sign was purchased by Golden Boy for the entire year and cannot be removed. He knew about that going in when he negotiated with the MGM to bring Pacquiao-Bradley 2 to Las Vegas. It’s the other signage that has Arum upset.
“This isn’t just wrong what they’re doing to Top Rank,” Arum said. “What about the networks? What about the beer sponsors? They paid good money to promote this fight and Tecate has to compete with all those Corona signs? And HBO, which is televising Manny’s fight with Bradley, they have to compete with Showtime?
“It’s ridiculous. Whoever heard of such a thing? Maybe they are hurting. But that’s not my problem. They should wait until April 13 and they can put up all the (expletive) signs they want.”
Arum said it’s not a good way to do business and foster a relationship.
“This is what happens when you have one company that has a monopoly on all the venues in Las Vegas,” Arum said. “Maybe I’ll come in here wearing a Venetian jacket.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.