LAS VEGAS -- Welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, showing the utmost respect for each other, came face to face at Wednesday’s final news conference ahead of their rematch on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
No trash talk. No insults. Not even any knockout promises. Just two respectful gentleman promising a good fight. The same went for their trainers, Joel Diaz and Freddie Roach.
They left the trash talk to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who lambasted the MGM Grand in his closing remarks.
Arum was rightfully upset with casino executives, who have the property decorated to the hilt with signage and promotion for the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana fight that the MGM will host on May 3, rather than an all-out blitz for Saturday’s Pacquiao-Bradley rematch.
It’s obvious, too. The outside of the MGM has a massive banner down the side of the building with Mayweather’s picture. Although there is Pacquiao-Bradley signage in the main lobby, there is little elsewhere.
Mayweather-Maidana advertising, however, is everywhere. The fight adorns slot machines throughout the casino and there are rotating signs hanging from the ceilings along the casino’s Studio Walk, which normally would be reserved for the event this week.
When Bradley finished his remarks, he asked Arum, “Did I say all the right things?”
Arum responded, “Why don't you ask the guy [Mayweather] who's picture is all over the building when he's going to fight somebody real.”
Bradley cracked up and said, “I’ll let you ask that.”
At that point, Arum returned to the podium and went off.
"I'm not going to say it,” he said at first. But Arum couldn’t resist.
“The hell with it,” he said. “I know the Venetian [whose Macau casino hosts Arum’s fights, including Pacquiao’s last fight] wouldn’t make a mistake like this. They would know what fight they have scheduled in three or four days and they wouldn't have a 12-to-1 fight all over the building that's going to take place in three weeks. That's why one company [the Venetian] makes a billion dollars a quarter and the other [the MGM] hustles to pay it's debt. There it is, I say it like it is.”
Stunningly, Arum said it with MGM executive Richard Sturm sitting right next to him. Sturm, whom Arum had earlier introduced to make his remarks as MGM “president of hanging posters for the wrong fight,” did not look happy, but did not make any comments.
Arum drew laughs from the crowd when he closed his remarks saying, “If anything that I said today is incendiary, well, I’m an old guy and I apologize.”
Sturm, the president of entertainment and sports for MGM Resorts International, issued a statement Wednesday night responding to Arum.
“I was truly shocked by Bob’s comments at (Wednesday’s) press conference and honestly disappointed,” Sturm said. “MGM Grand hosted a fight March 8 and has three additional fight events scheduled now through Memorial Day weekend. We always do everything possible to properly promote the events throughout our resorts and over the decades have promoted many, many sporting events with enormous success.”
Bill Hornbuckle, the MGM Resorts International president, added, “Aparently Bob’s definitions of respect and class are different than ours.”
Arum has had a rocky relationship with the MGM Grand in recent years, one of the reasons why he has done so much business with The Wynn and held fights at the Thomas & Mack Center. But the MGM wanted Pacquiao back because he attracts so many people to his fights.