Once they were close. Then they grew apart. Now, they’re back together.
It sounds like a celebrity marriage, and to a degree it is. But it’s money, not love, that keeps Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya together.
Arum, the 75-year-old who has been promoting fights for five decades, and De La Hoya, the former six-time world champion who has not officially retired from boxing and is the face and name of Golden Boy Productions, have kissed and made up after a four-year separation that included plenty of verbal jabs and the requiem lawsuits over property, fighters and promotions.
“Obviously, we had a relationship for a long time,” De La Hoya said earlier in the week as he and Arum co-promote this Saturday’s world super featherweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera at Mandalay Bay. “It’s right for the fans, and it’s right for boxing for us to work together.
“The things I said, I regret. They came in the heat of the moment, and I wish I could take them back. The emotions got in the way. But now, we’re back on track, and there’s no hard feelings.”
Said Arum: “There was great bitterness between us. But we saw the light. We vowed to look to the future.”
More likely, they both saw the money. Their feud centered around Pacquiao, who originally was with Top Rank and then tried to leave for Golden Boy. Arum sued, and eventually the matter was settled out of court.
Arum’s Top Rank and De La Hoya’s Golden Boy also are teaming up to put on the Shane Mosley-Miguel Cotto WBA world welterweight championship fight at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 10.
“It was a natural for us to work together and put fights on together,” Arum said. “It means the fans get more entertainment, and the boxers get more fights.”
• MARCO BOLO — Not that Pacquiao-Barrera needs any additional hype. But Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach decided to throw gas on the fire Thursday when he announced his fighter has a secret weapon for the rematch.
“We have prepared for the best in Barrera, and we have devised a new weapon to add to Manny’s already extensive arsenal — the ‘Marco Bolo,’ ” Roach said. “Barrera is a true warrior and a shoo-in Hall of Famer who has always, and I mean always, risen to the challenge.
“We are not about to make the same mistake Naseem Hamed and Erik Morales made when they lost to Barrera. Manny knows he cannot just rely on his raw power and raw speed to beat this guy. Manny has the best left hook in the business, but for Barrera, he’s going to need more, and that’s where the ‘Marco Bolo’ will come in. It won’t just set Barrera up for the left hook, it will hurt him and hurt him badly.
“Barrera is a very, very smart fighter. We are very aware of that. He has a lot of power, and Manny knows he is going to have to eat some leather in order to inflict his own damage on him. My biggest concern will be the head-butts from Barrera. I know he’ll try to foul Manny, and I consider him a dirty fighter. But Manny will be prepared for that, too.”
• HARD ROCK CARD — Top Rank will put on a boxing card Thursday at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. Headlining the event, which will be televised by Versus (Cable 67), is WBO super lightweight champion Fernando Montiel (34-2, 25 knockouts).
Urbano Antillon, ranked No. 2 by the WBC, will meet Allan Visayas in a super lightweight bout. Also on the card is Las Vegas super lightweight Angel Flores, who is scheduled to compete in a six-round bout.
• GARDEN CARD SAVED — Jameel McCline is getting his title shot. All it took was a few dominoes falling in his favor.
McCline will replace Oleg Maskaev and fight WBC interim heavyweight champion Samuel Peter on Saturday at Madison Square Garden after Maskaev pulled out with a back injury.
McCline was scheduled to meet Vitali Klitschko last week in Munich, Germany, but Klitschko pulled out less than two weeks before the fight. McCline (38-7-2, 23 KOs) subsequently agreed to fight DaVarryl Williamson on Saturday.
But when Maskaev, then the WBC champ, dropped out of the fight against Peter, who then was handed the interim title, McCline agreed to fight Peter.