BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.-It was supposed to be a press conference announcing the fight between Filipino Manny Pacquiao and Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera. But one of the fighters was unable to attend.
It was canceled.
Then a phone call came from super public relations man Bill Caplan and he mentioned that the business bosses for Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank would meet for sit down with various Southern California newspaper scribes if I was interested.
I was definitely interested.
For almost three years the two promotional giants were at each other’s neck. Because of the friction a slew of huge possible bouts at all the weight divisions could not take place.
On a moderately warm Tuesday at the Beverly Hills Hotel, a still swanky historic place where Howard Hughes used to put up his many gals and absent-mindedly forget about them, Bob Arum and Richard Schaefer met in peace at a swimming pool dining area.
A few of the newspaper guys were present for the boxing historic meeting.
“I’m not angry. It was strictly business,” said Arum who sat with his back to the pool where a bevy of bikini clad women were splashing around or sunning.
Ever since Barrera beat Erik Morales in their third fight in 2004 the two companies have bunkered down in their respective locales and sent ballistic bombs at each other through e-mail, telephone and competing fight cards.
Remember Miguel Cotto fighting Paul Malignaggi on the same day as Bernard Hopkins fought Antonio Tarver?
Like two heavyweight champions they were pulling no punches and taking no prisoners. Each was going for the knockout blow.
It seemed like Golden Boy had the inside track when they gobbled up the HBO venues. Then they signed Pacquiao and that seemed to be the killing blow. But Arum slipped and countered by somehow convincing the Filipino bomber to side with the Las Vegas-based Top Rank.
Well you know the rest. Off to court they went and after trading haymakers the two companies must have realized whoever won would more or less achieve a Pyrrhic victory-you win the battle but more or less lose so much it isn’t worth it.
They sat down and made peace.
Maybe it was the ghost of Mickey Cohen at work. The former mobster who was born in Brooklyn and raised in East L.A., served under Al Capone and was a bodyguard for Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. Cohen was a huge boxing guy.
Cohen boxed as an amateur and briefly as a pro and later in life managed a few top-notch pros. He was also a common visitor at the hotel located on Sunset Blvd. and Beverly Drive. Maybe his spirit had something to do with the peace.
Arum and Schaefer announced casually that the vista for mega fights is now open and includes a number of interesting possibilities. There are more than a few I can think of such as Joan Guzman against the winner of Barrera and Pacquiao; or Shane Mosley against Cotto or Antonio Margarito. It’s a mouth-watering list that could enliven any pay-per-view card of which there is an over-abundance.
“It’s not an ego thing,” Arum said. “We’re business guys.”
After the light lunch that lasted about two hours, everyone departed. Instead of making the three-hour trek home, I decided to drive down Sunset Boulevard perhaps the most celebrated street in the area. On the radio the disc jockey mentioned that jazz pianist Cedar Walton was giving a free concert on Hollywood and Highland near the Kodak Theater where they have the Academy Awards and the ESPYs.
Maybe next year Top Rank and Golden Boy will receive an ESPY for most valuable players in the sport of boxing. If they don’t have such a thing, maybe they ought to make one.
That’s the way Mickey Cohen would have done it.
Bojado back in the ring
Panchito Bojado, 24, returns to the ring against Rogelio Castaneda (23-12-3) at the Desert Diamond Casino in Tucson, Arizona on Friday July 27. It won’t be televised locally.
Bojado (17-2, 11 KOs) is trying to shake the ring rust from his almost three-year absence. He finally jumped back in the ring on May 4, 2007 after staying away from boxing following his loss to Jesse James Leija on July 24, 2004. He beat Dario Esalas by unanimous decision in Las Vegas.
The East Los Angeles boxer is promoted by fellow East L.A. fighter Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. Both De La Hoya and Bojado graduated from Garfield High School that was made famous by the film Stand and Deliver starring Edward James Olmos.
Moreno Valley’s West fights in August
Kaliesha West (6-0) of Moreno Valley recently signed to fight Carly Batey (3-1-2) at Harrah’s Rincon Casino in San Diego County on Aug. 17.
West, 19, is ranked as a bantamweight and sparred with mini flyweight world champion Wendy Rodriguez at the Fontana Boxing Club a few weeks ago.
Now the peppy West is looking for challenges and willingly accepted a fight against the dangerous Batey.
“Why be a fighter if you’re not willing to fight the best,” said West.
WBHOF celebrity golf
A number of Hall of Fame boxers are participating in the sixth annual World Boxing Hall of Fame tournament on Saturday July 28 at Soboba Springs Country Club. It’s a shotgun start at 11:30 and includes a number of great former boxers such as Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Mando Ramos, Gato Gonzalez, Armando Muniz and Carlos Palomino to name a few. For tickets and information call Bert Murrieta at (909) 239-3541.
Juarez returns after two years
Mariana Juarez (18-4-2) is jumping back in the ring after spending 24 months on the shelf following an arm injury during an exhibition. She meets Monica Lovato (10-1) in New Mexico on Saturday July 28.
Juarez hasn’t fought since March 2004 when she lost her IFBA junior bantamweight title to Myung OK Ryu in a very controversial stoppage by a referee. Both fighters were exchanging equally when the referee decided to stop the fight and award a technical knockout for the Korean fighter. The fight was held in China.
At the time Juarez had been suffering an injury to one of her arms and could not shake the almost paralyzing effects. She took time off and moved to Colorado.
Lovato recently defeated Carly Batey by split-decision.
Juarez and Lovato will meet at the Sky Casino in Acoma, New Mexico. It won’t be televised locally.