LAS VEGAS: Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley faced off in the final press conference for their welterweight world title rematch on Saturday, but it was promoter Bob Arum providing the fireworks.
Arum thought there was far too much Floyd Mayweather in evidence at the MGM Grand, where signs and banners promoting Pacquiao-Bradley 2 were side-by-side with materials advertising Mayweather’s May 3 fight against Argentinian Marcos Maidana.
Arum introduced Richard Sturm, President of MGM Grand Entertainment and Sports, as “the president of hanging posters and decorations for the wrong fight”.
Sturm sidestepped the criticism, but he was still sitting next to the podium when Arum closed the press conference at the MGM’s Hollywood Theater with another blast at the venue.
“In the Venetian they wouldn’t make a mistake like this,” said Arum, the founder and chief executive of Top Rank Promotions who staged Pacquiao’s 2013 bout against American Brandon Rios at the Venetian hotel-resort in the casino haven of Macau.
“They knew what fight was scheduled in three or four days and they wouldn’t have a 12-1 fight all over the building that’s going to take place three weeks from next Saturday,” Arum said.
“But that’s why one company makes a billion dollars a quarter and the other hustles to pay its debt,” he added.
The broadside from the 82-year-old Arum was a sharp contrast to the restrained comments from Saturday’s combatants, even though both Pacquiao and Bradley have said they have plenty to prove.
Bradley was stung by the outrage that greeted his split-decision triumph over Pacquiao here on June 9, 2012, with even the World Boxing Organization saying that upon review, the decision should have gone to Pacquiao.
In the build-up to the rematch, Bradley has goaded Pacquiao, saying the 35-year-old veteran has lost the “killer instinct” that made him a world champion in eight weight divisions.
Pacquiao, whose loss to Bradley was followed by a brutal knock-out loss to Juan Manuel Marquez before he righted the ship with a convincing points win over Rios, promised an entertaining bout.
“Everything is all said,” Pacquiao said. “Both fighters are doing our best to do our job in the ring and make you guys happy and to give a good fight to make people happy.”
Added Bradley: “It doesn’t really matter what we say, it only matters what we do. Me and Manny Pacquiao basically went through hell in training camp to put on a great show for the fans.”
As he moved to sit down, Bradley asked Arum if he’d hit the right notes.
“Why don’t you ask the guy whose picture is up all over building (Mayweather) when he’s going to fight somebody real?” Arum said.
“I’m not going to say that,” Bradley said with a half-laugh. “You can say that.”
Wrapping things up, Arum pleaded age as his excuse for speaking his mind.
“If whatever I said was incendiary,” he said, “I’m an old guy and I apologize.”