Thursday, February 22, 2024  |



Bob Arum lays down the making of Mayweather-Pacquiao

Fighters Network
Photo by Richard Drew

Photo by Richard Drew

All-time promotional legend Bob Arum has been at it since 1966, so when he is asked for the big-picture assessment of our Super Bowl fight, Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao, ears should perk up.
Arum, age 83, has put together or been part of the craftmaking crew for some legendary affairs, among them 27 Muhammad Ali fights, 20 Marvelous Marvin Hagler bouts and his branding expertise helped build the resume of Oscar De La Hoya. So, again, antennae should be erect when he’s asked about the public reaction to #MayPac. He helped package 1971’s Ali vs. Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden, did the 1987 Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Hagler Super Fight and was all over the Fight of the Millennium in 1999, Oscar vs. Felix “Tito” Trinidad.
The Brooklyn-born, Vegas-based deal-maker, known for being a loose cannon at times – God bless his soul; we media love his rants – chatted with ESPN’s Joe Tessitore on Friday night. Portions of the talk ran on “Friday Night Fights,” the series which runs out in a few months, word is, with it being replaced by fare put together by Al Haymon.
Arum said a meeting between him, CBS chief Leslie Moonves and Haymon at the end of December, was crucial because deal points were clarified then. In two hours at Moonves’ house, things came together to a large extent, he said. The CBS titan then reached out to HBO big chief Richard Plepler, who got on the same page as Moonves in “12 minutes, solved most of the issues, all of the big issues, regarding the broadcast.”
Tess noted that Arum used to promote Mayweather. “How is their relationship now?” Tess asked Arum, who, in the not-too-distant past, compared some of Floyd’s behavior in supposedly dodging a “Pac-Man” fight to a certain demonic dictator from Germany and was the focus of Floyd’s ire. Mayweather said if Arum was part of a deal with Pac-Man, there would be no deal. Those happenings have faded from memory, it seems, as Arum said, “Well, I’ve never had any problem with Floyd. A lot of people made an issue of this great feud that Floyd and I had with each other but that wasn’t the case.” He said Floyd is friends with his stepson, Todd duBoef; they embrace when they see each other. “Floyd has peculiarities and so do I; everybody does,” Arum continued. Mayweather handled his side of the negotiations well, the Vegas promoter said. Floyd and Top Rank Promotions parted way in 2007, with Floyd complaining that Arum “wouldn’t let me be me.” Earlier this month, Arum visited the Sirius radio show hosted by Teddy Atlas and Wallace Matthews and admitted that he was behind the times and didn’t properly market Mayweather to the demo which now follows his in and out of the ring exploits so faithfully. Arum has done well, some of the people surrounding him will tell you off the record, keeping his teeth tucked in and not counter-punching when given openings, such as when Mayweather told that, “A lot of guys are forced to do things that they don’t want to do. I honestly believe that; at this particular time, even if Pacquiao didn’t want to fight, he has no choice because his back is against the wall.” Certainly, that assertion could be grounds for debate if nothing else but Arum has chosen the road not as oft-taken, tucking of teethÔǪfor now anyway.
Arum, a Harvard law man who worked in the US Justice Department before transitioning to the less-ethically nuanced milieu of boxing, said ticket demand for this Big One “is the greatest by far that I’ve seen.” He said maybe it’s because “Money doesn’t really mean anything,” with the “one percent” having so much loot that it loses proper context.
How many pay-per-views will they do? Between four and five million, Arum said, which would double the existing mark on the high end (the record is 2.4 million buys for Mayweather-De La Hoya in 2007).
Arum was asked what each man would pocket. He said the pot will be maybe $300 million, with Floyd getting 60% and Manny getting 40%. Some of that of course will go to others involved, including Arum and the cable companies and the platform providers, Showtime and HBO, so the exact math is a bit more complex than that.
All in all, fun stuff, as always from “Brooklyn Bob.” One subplot to the Fight will be the interplay, or lack thereof, between Mayweather, never shy about speaking his peace toward someone he thinks has done him wrong, and Arum, as candid an exec as you will see if and when his Irish emerges.
Woods lives in Brooklyn, and is currently the editor of He covered news and sports at NY Newsday before joining ESPN The Magazine in 2003.