By Alexander Fugate
Floyd Mayweather Jr. began his professional career, in 1996, with Top Rank promoting his fights. Everything began perfectly with Mayweather winning his first world title just two years later. After defending this title eight times, Floyd moved up and took on the toughest challenge at the 135 pounds weight division, one division north of where he began his career at. He won that bout, granted an immediate rematch and then fought two top contenders before moving up in weight again, this time to the 140 pound division. He won two title elimination contests that set him up for a showdown with fan favorite Arturo Gatti for the WBC light welterweight title in his first PPV match. It was around this time that Mayweather began being vocal about his displeasure with Top Rank Promotions and Bob Arum, the man who runs Top Rank. It was before the Gatti fight when Floyd told sportinglife.com, “He (Arum) doesn’t like (me) and I don’t like him. But that’s okay because he doesn’t know how to promote a good fighter anyway.” Mayweather has since been vocal about how he feels Top Rank stymied his career and put his interests behind other Top Rank fighters, especially Oscar De La Hoya, who was also with Top Rank Promotions until 2001.
De La Hoya went on to start Golden Boy Promotions and signed many big-name fighters. Unfortunately for boxing fans, Arum and De La Hoya couldn’t put their past disputes behind them and didn’t deal with each other for years. Effectively meaning that anyone with Top Rank would not fight anyone signed with Golden Boy and vice versa. Eventually, they put business ahead of personal feelings and put together such matches as Mosley-Cotto and Pacquiao-Barrera.
After defeating Gatti, Mayweather jumped up one more weight class to the 147 pound division. Mayweather was scheduled to fight Sharmba Mitchell in his first bout at this division. After reports of this bout surfaced, Top Rank filed a lawsuit naming Mayweather, HBO, Mayweather’s advisor Al Haymon, and Goosen-Tutor Promotions as defendants. Reports had indicated that Goosen Promotions would promote the fight. At the heart of this lawsuit was a contract between HBO, Top Rank, and Floyd Mayweather. Josh Slagter of Mlive.com explained it well: “…the network (HBO) disclosed plans to opt out of its then five-year-old contract with Mayweather and Top Rank, which effectively would break the promoter’s ties to the fighter…” It went on: “Arum was flabbergasted, since it (HBO) had no intentions of breaking ties with Mayweather, but withdrew the lawsuit the same month is was filed, after agreeing to a new two-year contract. The new deal included a $750,000 buyout which Mayweather exercised less than six months later…”
Mayweather exercised this right after he beat Zab Judah. At that time Arum had offered Mayweather $8 million for a fight with Antonio Margarito on August 12 of that year, 2006. However, in the victory over Judah, Mayweather had badly injured his right hand and decided to wait until he was healthy to fight again. Much has been made of this offer, by Arum and Mayweather critics in the last couple of years.
ESPN’s Dan Rafeal reported on this. The reason for the split between Mayweather and Top Rank was reported as follows in Rafeal’s 2006 article on ESPN.com.
“Arum said while Mayweather would have taken the $8 million to fight Margarito, he asked for a $10 million guarantee to fight opponents such as Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton, when Arum was only willing to guarantee $7 million.
Arum said Mayweather also asked for $20 million to fight De La Hoya, a fight Arum said he wasn’t interested in participating in.
‘That’s not in the cards,’ Arum said. ‘He wants $20 million for the De La Hoya fight? It’s not there. Sometimes, my man, you gotta know when to hold’em and when to fold’em.’”
Goosen-Tutor Promotions came along and offered Mayweather one dollar more than Arum’s offer to face Margarito, for Floyd to instead face Carlos Baldomir. Mayweather accepted this offer. Some still claim Arum’s offer to fight Margarito was more. It wasn’t. It was one dollar less. Neither Baldomir nor Margarito was known outside of boxing circles at the time. At the time of that fight, Baldomir hadn’t lost in nearly eight years, since he was able to quit his day job and start training for all his fights. After beating Judah, Baldomir defended his title against Arturo Gatti. Conversely, Margarito’s two biggest wins at that time were against Antonio Diaz in 2002 and a victory in 2005 against Kermit Cintron. However, two fights before the Cintron win Margarito had lost to Daniel Santos.
After the Baldomir victory, Mayweather finally got the fight he had wanted since his days of fighting at the 130 pound division. A fight with De La Hoya. The main reason for his split with Top Rank. Not even a year before that fight, Arum had insisted Mayweather couldn’t get $20 million. While Mayweather only got a $10 million guarantee he got De La Hoya to give him a percentage of the PPV revenue. This was the first time De La Hoya ever did this, all his previous opponents got a guaranteed amount; no more, no less, no share of the PPV revenue. Mayweather walked away with between $22 and $30 million, depending on which source one believes.
Mayweather’s next bout was with undefeated Ricky Hatton. Mayweather received a guaranteed purse of $15 million (over twice Arum’s best offer) and walked away with over $20 million after all the revenue and numbers came in. It’s generally believed Mayweather earned approximately $50 million in 2007, with De La Hoya and Hatton being his only two fights that year.
In 2008, Mayweather and Arum’s relationship went from bad to worse when Mayweather filed a lawsuit against Arum. Floyd claimed he was owed money from his fights against Judah and Arturo Gatti, but couldn’t say how much because Arum reportedly refused to turn over the accounting numbers. Arum actually admitted he owed Mayweather money, but retaliated by threatening lawsuits against Floyd and other people in Mayweather’s camp; it was widely believed Arum was referring to Mayweather’s manager Alan Haymon. Whatever came of this lawsuit and alleged counter-lawsuit hasn’t attracted any attention from the media. The safest bet would be that it was worked out behind closed doors; but it seems impossible to confirm what happened with it for sure.
Mayweather came back from a 21 month retirement in September of 2009 against Juan Manuel Marquez, in which he earned a guaranteed $10 million ($600,000 of which he paid to Marquez to allow him to weigh in two pounds over the original agreement) and with over a million PPV buys, should gross over $15 million (it can take up to nine months for all receipts and money to come in).
Next was supposed to be a fight with Manny Pacquiao. However, negotiations stalled and Manny Pacquiao wasted no time in signing a contract to fight Joshua Clottey on March 13. Mayweather has since signed to battle “Sugar” Shane Mosley on May 1st.
Mayweather vs. Arum: The War
Looking at just the monetary side of this falling out, it would seem Mayweather Jr. clearly came out ahead from his split with Top Rank. However, the financial side is only part of the story. Boxing is a business and undoubtedly Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been a master on the business end of things; but there is also the respect and legacy to consider when one has the skills to beat the best. This is where some feel Mayweather Jr. comes up short. They feel he hasn’t tested himself enough; that he’s refused to fight the toughest competition. And none other than one Bob Arum has been ringing this trumpet at least as loud as anyone else.
At the press conference following Miguel Cotto beating Alfonzo Gomez Arum said, “…he (Mayweather) didn’t deserve to be fighter of the year in 2007…Mayweather is not good for the sport and after seeing Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto tonight, that he (out of fear) has probably taken a ticket to Mars.”
On October 12, 2009 Arum was quoted by badlefthook.com: “The fight I would like to see him in with is Mosley…But it will never happen… He’s (Mayweather) is going to fight a guy that presents very little danger to him… But the fight he should make is Shane Mosley.”
On Nov. 19 2009, Larry Fine of Reuters Canada quoted Arum saying, “… he (Mayweather) ducked (Shane) Mosley, (Antonio) Margarito, and Cotto…”
Arum has continuously alluded to Mayweather ducking Margarito, Cotto, and Mosley. That seems to be the whole battle cry of Mayweather critics; that he ducked these three opponents. Let’s start with Margarito. It has been repeated quite often that Mayweather ducked Margarito, that he turned down an $8 million offer to fight him after Judah. Wouldn’t Floyd have been ducking Baldomir if he didn’t fight him instead? The Baldomir offer was better financially speaking and Baldomir had at least as much, if not more, name recognition than Margarito. Mayweather should have fought someone who’s most notable victory was over Kermit Cintron, for less money, instead of the lineal and Ring magazine welterweight champion? I really fail to see how fighting the lineal and Ring Magazine and WBC welterweight champion for more money than Margarito offered is ducking. In fact, if Mayweather hadn’t fought Baldomir there really would be no explanation other than he was ducking him.
What about Cotto? Surely, Mayweather ducked Cotto! Well, it could just as easily be argued that Cotto ducked Mayweather. Why did Cotto never make any offer to Mayweather? Eastsideboxing’s Michael Herron insightfully noted this significant detail in a column on March 26, 2008 when he wrote:
“…the data clearly disproves his (Arum’s) claim that Mayweather is somehow “fearful” and is “ducking” Miguel Cotto. If anything, Mayweather is asserting his independence and is showing confidence in his newly acquired ability to do business with his interests, not Top Rank’s in mind.” He continued, “As part of his smear campaign against Floyd, Arum often states that ‘Mayweather does not want to fight Cotto,’ but never quite confirms that ‘Cotto wants to fight Mayweather.’… Could it be that Arum realizes the match-up is a potential lose-lose situation for Top Rank?…if Cotto is soundly defeated Top Rank loses their top prospect. His unblemished record will be gone, his aura of invincibility gone, and depending on how badly he is defeated, his market value will depreciate.” Is that a risk Top Rank and Arum was willing to take? Apparently not, since they never made any offer to Mayweather Jr. Not one. After Floyd earned around $50 million for two fights in 2007 and it would be the biggest possible payday for Cotto and Top Rank, Top Rank was suspiciously quiet. If this is a fight they wanted, why didn’t they make an offer?
As for Mosley, it’s actually well documented how Mayweather called him out in 1999. How Ring Magazine featured both on the same cover. How Mosley refused to fight Floyd. How in 2006, Floyd again challenged Mosley. How Mosley again came up with excuses to not fight Mayweather Jr. Mayweather had been trying to fight Mosley from 1999 until he retired in 2007. It was Mosley who ducked Mayweather, not the other way around.
The choice of Marquez for his comeback fight definitely fueled the fire of the critics. Whatever the reason, it does seem like a low-risk match- especially in hindsight. The most logical explanation would be that Floyd wanted a relatively easy fight to shake off the ring rust. The detractors will always claim it was because he was scared, of someone or other, though. After the logical choice of Baldomir was Oscar De La Hoya, who came in to the ring with an estimated 16 pound weight advantage over Mayweather Jr. and was coming off a splendid 6th round TKO of champion Ricardo Mayorga. After that, was Hatton, who supposedly had the style and talent to beat Mayweather and had the best odds against Floyd of anyone since the late Diego Corrales. These were not two tomato cans. And now that he’s back from retirement Floyd is facing the top welterweight in Shane Mosley on May 1st. How is it that Mayweather has fought all the top guys, except the one’s with Top Rank?
Now, the choice of Marquez for his comeback fight definitely fueled the fire of the critics. Whatever the reason, it does seem like a low-risk match- especially in hindsight. The most logical explanation would be that Floyd wanted a relatively easy fight to shake off the ring rust. The detractors will always claim it was because he was scared, of someone or other, though.
The only other name that is ever mentioned is Paul Williams. Up until after the De La Hoya-Mayweather bout, Williams biggest victories were over Sharmba Mitchell and Walter Matthysse. No one was clamoring for a fight with Williams at the time. In fact, most felt Hatton had the best chance of beating Mayweather. Now, that Mayweather is back and Williams has victories over Antonio Margarito, Carlos Quintana, and Winky Wright, he definitely deserves to be mentioned, as a possible foe for Mayweather, but taking on Mosley is still a grave risk.
Now, Arum is trying to convince the public that Mayweather is ducking Manny Pacquiao. There are many differing theories on the collapse of a Mayweather-Pacquaio superfight, but the fact remains if Pacquiao would have agreed to two random blood tests, between the presser announcing the fight and ending no later than 14 days before the bout, then Floyd Mayweather Jr., and not Joshua Clottey would be standing across the ring from Manny Pacquiao on March 13. Manny Pacquiao has said on at least two occasions that he doesn’t have a problem giving blood, but just not on the day or the day before the fight. He told ESPN’s Brian Kenny this and also stated this to fightfan.com. So, it appears Manny Pacquiao had no problem with the final contract, the final offer, from Mayweather. Yet, it will be Joshua Clottey and not Floyd who Pacquiao will be fighting. The question has to be asked, why is this? Could it be that Arum isn’t willing to risk his biggest money-maker from being painfully exposed? Many boxing analysts believe Mayweather would win a lop-sided decision over Pacquiao. And while it’s true Manny Pacquiao has three losses on his record, it’s also true not one of those losses have came since he’s been regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters and one of the top two money-makers in boxing today. This is the same situation as with Miguel Cotto a couple years ago; if Top Rank puts their top prospect in with Mayweather, Floyd would be the favorite to win. If Floyd came out victorious then the incredible hype surrounding Pacquiao (and Cotto in 2008) and the huge marketing draw he’s become could evaporate overnight. If Pacquiao lost a lop-sided decision, then a bout with someone like Joshua Clottey would probably bring in less than half the revenue as it will on March 13. This would be a huge risk for Top Rank. Other than Pacquiao, the top names under Top Ranks control are Edwin Valero and Miguel Cotto. Two good fighters, but nowhere near the money-makers, that a Manny Pacquiao is.
One has to admit it’s interesting that the three names most commonly brought up- Margarito, Cotto, and Pacquiao (Mosley is often mentioned too, but as already noted that is a blatant lie)- that Mayweather has supposedly “ducked” all just happen to be with Top Rank, and all just happen to have come since Mayweather split with Top Rank. Is Mayweather ducking top contenders? Or is Top Rank boycotting Mayweather? Arum has been relentless in his criticism of Mayweather’s supposed unwillingness to risk his perfect record against any real threat.
Especially interesting is his rhetoric regarding Mosley. It’s on record how Floyd had continuously tried to get Mosley in the ring before; also on record is how Mosley launched an all-out campaign last summer to get a fight with Pacquiao. Pacquiao instead fought Miguel Cotto, who struggled against Clottey, and appeared to be a changed fighter since his fight with Margarito. Now, that the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout is off, Pacquiao was quick to sign Clottey. Yes, Mosley was scheduled to fight Andre Berto on January 30th when talks broke off with Mayweather, but Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, had already expressed interest in Manny waiting and fighting the winner of that match. Mosley would pose a great risk to Pacquiao. And so, within days of breaking off negotiations for a Mayweather fight, Manny was signed to fight Clottey, who is good, but still a level or two below fighters like Mayweather and Mosley. What does Arum have to say now? He accused Mayweather of ducking real competition and especially of dodging Mosley, yet his fighter has essentially “ducked” Mosley twice in less than a year.
The relationship between Floyd Maywather Jr. and Bob Arum has been a very tumultuous one. One with verbal jabs thrown back and forth. One with lawsuits being filed and threatened by both parties against the other. As of today, Floyd Mayweather has certainly proved his monetary worth and has made much more than Top Rank told him he was worth before he left in 2006. However, the propaganda campaign launched on Floyd Mayweather Jr. from Bob Arum has tainted Mayweather’s record and accomplishments. Hopefully, for boxing fans, Arum can put his personal feelings towards Mayweather on the backburner and help put together the biggest fight out there: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao. While there will always be critics, wins over Mosley and Pacquiao would silence at least a few.
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