Bob Arum, who helped turn Manny Pacquiao into an international icon, weighed in on the controversy engulfing his top client on Wednesday.
The promoter called Pacquiao’s anti-gay comments “reprehensible” and hopes the public doesn’t equate his views with those involved with the promotion for his upcoming fight with Tim Bradley on HBO Pay-Per-View.
Pacquiao, who is running for a seat in the Senate in his native Philippines, told a local TV station that those engaged in same-sex relationships are “worse than animals.”
“I think it’s reprehensible,” Arum told RingTV.com in a phone interview on Wednesday. “I’m in favor of same-sex marriage. I’m in favor of gay rights. A lot of my friends are gays, particularly in California and Hollywood, so it’s very offensive to them and that’s what I’m most concerned about.”
Arum sought to distance Pacquiao’s views from anyone involved in his fight on April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. “The only way you do damage control is he apologized and we move away from the possibility that anybody would think we or Bradley or anyone connected to the fight believes in what he did say,” Arum said. “And if (Pacquiao) believes it, it’s unfortunate but that’s his belief. You can’t really affect somebody who is saying things that you don’t believe in but is part of their religious beliefs.”
Arum didn’t want to speculate if Pacquiao’s comments will have any bearing on the PPV numbers for his bout with Bradley. The two are fighting for a third time in a matchup that hasn’t exactly caught fire with fans. Nike, a sponsor, has already cut ties with Pacquiao over the controversy.
“I have no idea,” Arum said of the PPV numbers. “I mean we live in a country — look at the number of people who support Donald Trump and the (expletive) that he says. Who knows anymore? How can you make a prediction (on the PPVs)?”
Arum said he spoke with Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz about the controversy. “He said that Manny was contrite and he apologized,” Arum said. “And he did make an apology and that’s it. What else can you do?”
Arum said he wasn’t particularly shocked by the comments since Pacquiao has expressed resistance to same-sex marriage before. Pacquiao voiced his opposition to President Barack Obama’s support for gay marriage in an interview with the National Conservative Examiner in 2012. “If this was the first time, I would say, ‘Well, you know … it can happen. Somebody says something that’s unfortunate. But we went through this a few years ago.”
Arum mused that mixing politics and sports is often a risky blend. “I’m putting a fight on,” Arum said. “I’m not promoting a politician.”
You can subscribe to the print and digital editions of THE RING Magazine by clicking the banner or here. On the cover this month: Tyson Fury heads up the 87th Annual RING Awards as Fighter of the Year. You can also order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues on our subscribe page.