Stephen Espinoza, Showtime’s Executive Vice President and General Manager, told TSS on Thursday he’s “happy” for the free publicity Bob Arum has given Showtime’s May 3 pay-per-view bout between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana during Pacquiao-Bradley fight week.
Arum, CEO and founder of the Las Vegas-based promotional company Top Rank, went on a widely publicized rant on Wednesday at the press conference for this weekend’s HBO PPV bout between Top Rank-promoted fighters Pacquiao and Bradley. Arum slammed the fight’s venue, MGM Grand, for having Mayweather-Maidana posters up instead of ones for his Pacquiao-Bradley promotion.
He also seemed to take some swipes at rival promoter, Golden Boy, as well as their television partner, Showtime, and Floyd Mayweather.
“Honestly, I don’t really understand why he’d spend so much time during his fight week talking about Showtime and Floyd Mayweather,” Espinoza said. “It doesn’t make any sense, but if he wants to continue to do it we’re happy to receive the benefit of the publicity.”
Espinoza said he read about the remarks and did not appreciate the rhetoric used. “I think it was irresponsible and personally offensive.”
Arum’s remarks were fairly brutal, especially when he said “…none of the fighters on the card had to pay anybody off to get on the card, unlike how some other people operate on some other networks. Right? That was an old tactic that Frankie Carbo used. It doesn't go with HBO or with Top Rank.”
Carbo was a gangster in the Mafia who was heavily involved in boxing during the era of heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. He spent much of his life in jail for being a mobster.
Perhaps sensing he went a bit too far, Arum finished up with an apology of sorts. “So thank you all for coming, we're gonna pose the fighters now, and if whatever I said was incendiary, I'm an old guy, and I apologize.”
For his part, Espinoza said the apology is not accepted. “Arum often says stuff and then tries to hide behind loopholes and fake apologies, but I don’t think there’s any question that what he said was irresponsible, unprofessional and offensive. His insincere apology at the end is worthless.”
Regardless, Espinoza said afterward he’d welcome fight pitches from Top Rank, though the promotional entity has not sought a Showtime date since 2012. “Absolutely,” said Espinoza when asked if Top Rank was welcome on Showtime. “Top Rank is welcome, as are other promoters.”
Espinoza said the last time he had any sort of talks with Top Rank was during the latter part of 2012 when the network worked with Top Rank and Golden Boy to negotiate a bout between Nonito Donaire and Abner Mares. The fight never took place, though, and is often presented as one of the top casualties of boxing’s so-called cold war between Top Rank and Golden Boy.
“We pursued that for a period of time, and then I know [Golden Boy CEO Richard] Schaefer and Arum pursued it more directly,” Espinoza said. “I’m not sure why exactly it fell apart, because there seems to have been enough money on the table for everyone.”