Lem Satterfield

Bob Arum replaced on conference call, blames Stephen Espinoza

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images


Top Rank CEO Bob Arum had planned to take part in a Tuesday conference call promoting the Showtime-televised, June 21 WBO featherweight title bout between Golden Boy's Gary Russell Jr. and Top Rank's Vasyl Lomachenko — that is, he says, until Showtime decided otherwise.

RingTV.com was first notified of the predicament through an e-mail from Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels.

"Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, was scheduled to be on the Vasyl Lomachenko conference call today," read the e-mail. "Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Showtime Sports and Event Programming,
requested that Arum not be on the call. Carl Moretti, VP of Boxing Operations of Top Rank, will replace Arum."

The call will also include Golden Boy Vice President Eric Gomez. Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya, the event's lead promoter, could not be reached for immediate comment, but has insisted in the recent past that he and Arum have made amends and quashed their long-running feud.

Arum remains, however, a bitter enemy of Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, who has since resigned. Schaefer had vowed not to work with Arum when Golden Boy won the purse bid in April, and, with it, the right to promote Russell Jr.-Lomachenko without any involvement whatsoever from Top Rank.

Both Samuels and Arum say that Arum was told that he would be on the call.

"I don't think that it has anything to do with Oscar," said Arum, later blaming Espinoza. "This is a promotion that they won in the purse bid, and Oscar's getting paid by Showtime, and so why would I make trouble for Oscar? It's not Oscar's doing."

Espinoza could not be reached for an immediate comment, but in a subsequent e-mail, Showtime disputed Top Rank's assertion.

"Neither Bob Arum, nor Stephen Espinoza were scheduled to be on today's media conference call," read the statement from Showtime. "The June 21 Showtime Championship Boxing event is promoted by Golden Boy and, collectively with Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions, we agreed that this was not a platform on which any other promotional outfit belongs. This call is about the fighters on this card that are preparing for important, and competitive fights."

An irate Arum, nevertheless, ripped Espinoza.

"I told them that I would be on the call, and I think that as Lomachenko's promoter, that I should be on the call, but Mr. Espinoza, in his great wisdom, requested that I not be on the call. I'm amused by it," said Arum.

"It just demonstrates the tremendous degree of stupidity on this guy's part. I assume that the conference call is to get publicity on this fight, so you would assume that he would want me on the conference call to say what I have to say about Lomachenko, but he's paying for it, so he can call the shots."

Arum and Espinoza have had disagreements in the past, with Espinoza saying, "I'm starting to worry about his mental state," and adding that Arum has a tendency to "throw tantrums."

Arum responded by saying, "Stephen Espinoza is a horse's ass of all horse's asses," adding, "With what he has done to hurt boxing, he is a real blight on the sport of boxing."

But Arum said that his differences with Espinoza should not have a bearing on Russell-Lomachenko.

"What the f–k does difference does that make? I'm supposed to be on the call to talk about the Lomachenko-Russell fight, and do you think that I'm going to attack him on the call?" said Arum. "I think this is a case of somebody who is stupid and has done a stupid thing. It's nonsense. I'm not upset by it, I'm amused by it. It's ludicrous."

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