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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Promoter's anger at MGM/Mirage could keep Manny Pacquiao out of Las Vegas

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The animosity that exists between Manny Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, and Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s camp extends to MGM/Mirage, the company that operates the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

That arena will be dark Saturday night, when it could have been the site of Pacquiao's world welterweight title defense against Joshua Clottey.

In an interesting column Thursday by The Times' Bill Dwyre, Arum addressed his anger at Mayweather promoter Golden Boy Promotions and at MGM/Mirage, which has staged several of Oscar De La Hoya's bouts as a fighter and as a promoter, including the upcoming April 3 fight between Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. and the May 1 Mayweather-Shane Mosley bout.

In January, Arum said he extended MGM/Mirage the opportunity to host Pacquiao-Clottey, while Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones bid to do the same. During that period, Arum said he had a discouraging conversation with MGM/Mirage President Richard Sturm, while checking to see if Pacquiao could fight at the MGM Grand for a fourth consecutive time, after bouts against De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto.

“They said the date’s booked,” Arum said, referring to a prior request filed to the Nevada State Athletic Commission by Golden Boy Chief Executive Richard Schaefer to keep the March 13 date open for Jones-Hopkins first, then Mayweather-Pacquiao.

"Golden Boy had told me at the time that they planned to bring in Mayweather versus another opponent -- [Paulie] Malignaggi at the time," Sturm told The Times on Thursday. "It's industry practice to honor whoever has the first hold on the date. Bob called me, I explained that situation, and the rest is history."

When Mayweather ultimately opted to fight Mosley May 1 at MGM Grand, the March 13 request was dropped.

The MGM explanation, as Arum said he interpreted it, was that the company had more loyalty to Golden Boy fighters than Arum’s.

Last week, at a lunch with The Times, Arum said this: “We’ll never have Manny fight at MGM again. Manny brings in more business to Las Vegas than any other boxer, more than anyone since [Mike] Tyson. Manny’s a boon to the gaming tables. A casino guy once told me, ‘Manny’s Frank Sinatra times 20.’ So MGM just [hurt] themselves, and all the other casinos in Vegas.”

Sturm said he hopes that's not true.

"We had no idea March 13 was going to open," Sturm said. "Had I known, I'd be more than excited to have Manny come back here, and I'd love to have him back."

Sturm said he plays no favorites among promoters.

"We don't book promoters; we book fights," he said. "Bob is entirely wrong to say there's anything more to our relationship with Golden Boy than that."

For now, however, Arum is talking of taking his business elsewhere.

After Dallas, Arum said he is going to stage light-middleweight world champion Yuri Foreman’s first title defense against ex-welterweight champ Miguel Cotto June 5 at the new Yankee Stadium, and he’s promising another Dallas show later this year, along with a spring 2011 event at the new Meadowlands in New Jersey.

On Thursday, Arum mildly softened his stance to say he'd "never say never" to another Pacquiao fight at the MGM Grand.

"But Pacquiao is disillusioned after the way they disrespected him," Arum said.

Sturm said he's willing to extend an olive branch.

"I wouldn't have a problem picking up the phone and expressing my interest in having Manny back here soon," Sturm said.

-- Lance Pugmire


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