The Next Foe For De La Hoya: It’s Bob Arum

BY Michael Woods ON May 24, 2006
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It’s official.

Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya will not be exchanging holiday cards.

Top Rank Inc., Bob Arum’s promotional outfit, has sued Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, arguing that Top Rank’s rights to try to promote De La Hoya’s fight against Ricardo Mayorga earlier this month were breached.

Top Rank said in a suit filed Monday that it had the right of last refusal on whether to promote the fight, which sold $7.6 million tickets and drew 875,000 pay-per-view buyers ($43.8 million in revenue).

The suit alleges that Golden Boy Promotions offered unfair terms in breach of their Feb. 19, 2004 contract.

The lawsuit alleges De La Hoya and Golden Boy breached the agreement by "failing to present to Top Rank an initial reasonable offer with the necessary terms and conditions (and) refusing to negotiate that offer."

"They didn't conform in good faith with the terms," Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum said to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "They did what they did just to give themselves a way to blow us out of the water."

Arum said his company is owed at least $3 million for the May 6 bout, which De La Hoya won via a sixth round TKO. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages. Michael Olin, the lead attorney for the Miami firm representing Arum, said that Top Rank did not seek an injunction to stop the De La Hoya/Mayorga bout before it began because “in our experience with boxing, it’s hard to get a judge to stop a fight. The clock is ticking on any fighters’ career and it’s difficult for a judge to tell a fighter not to fight.”

Olin is confident that Arum, the former promoter of De La Hoya before The Golden Boy started his own promotional firm in 2001, will prevail in this legal skirmish. “They knew the obligations and they failed to honor them,” Olin said. “Our recourse is to seek damages rather than preventing him from fighting.”

Jeffrey Spitz, the LA-based attorney representing Golden Boy Promotions, said that his firm hadn’t physically received the suit, but was aware of the content of the charges. “When the facts come out, it will show that no one on Oscar’s side did anything wrong,” the attorney said. “Oscar afforded Top Rank all of its rights. Top Rank chose not to put forward a serious proposal for the De La Hoya/Mayorga fight. Now they’re coming after the fact, trying to get something through litigation. They hadn’t participated in negotiation when they could have.”

De La Hoya took Arum to court in the fall of 2000, trying to break his contract with the promoter. The courts ruled in favor of the Golden Boy in February 2001. Tempers flared during the battle and reached a low in March 2001, when De La Hoya called Arum racist in a newspaper interview, and then apologized for the remarks.

“I don't have blue eyes and I am not white, but a Mexican arriving on the cusp of fame, and that is what they do not support,” De La Hoya told La Opinion in 2001. “Bob Arum's people hope I lose because they can't see a Mexican above them, and also that he defeated one of the biggest Jews to come out of Harvard.”

Consider this a feud renewed.

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