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SWORN FOES ARUM, KING UNITE.

Byline: ROBERT MORALES Boxing

Bob Arum and Don King have been the two best boxing promoters over the past 40 years. No question.

There has been no love lost between these two 74-year-olds with strikingly contrasting backgrounds. Arum is the Harvard Law School graduate, King the former inmate who did prison time in the 1960s for manslaughter.

Their dislike for each other has unfortunately spilled over into their business in as much as they have not co-promoted a fight since Felix Trinidad Jr. defeated Oscar De La Hoya in September 1999.

It was a controversial majority decision for Trinidad, who was promoted by King. Arum, in the post-fight news conference, was beside himself and hinted that King somehow may have had something to do with the scoring going Trinidad's way. Arum was De La Hoya's promoter.

Nearly seven years later, the two giants are co-promoting the April 8title fight between welterweight champion Zab Judah and Floyd Mayweather Jr. at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. It will be available on pay-per-view.

King and Arum held a news conference in Atlantic City, N.J., on Saturday, only hours before Hasim Rahman and James ``Lights Out'' Toney fought to a draw in a heavyweight title fight there promoted by Arum.

It was surreal to see King and Arum being nice to each other. They gave each other kudos, and they vowed to pull together and co-promote more big fights for the good of the sport.

``We put aside everything,'' said King, who engaged Arum in a back- and-forth answer session that was moderated by HBO analyst Jim Lampley. ``Everyone said there was going to be name-calling, and we'd be so full of emotion and passion that we couldn't sit at this table today to promote what's going to become one of the biggest fights of non-heavyweights in history. But because we are professionals, we give to the public first and we take second. Whatever happened, happened.''

The promoters fielded a variety of questions. One reporter wanted to know how we can all be certain that this is not just a one-time deal, that if something goes wrong, they won't go back to being sworn enemies?

``It's not about Don and myself, it's about Zab and Floyd,'' Arum said. ``They're the young men who are going to get in the ring and exchange punches. Don and I are true promoters and Don and I realize instinctively what the public wants.

``They want good matches and we know how to present them to the public.''

Arum was leading to something, and once he unloaded, it became apparent why he and King are banding together: Arum, as well as King, is unhappy at recent events that have seen the likes of De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Winky Wright and Roy Jones Jr. try their hands at promoting while still fighting.

De La Hoya and Hopkins are partners in Golden Boy Promotions. And since De La Hoya left Arum a second time in late 2004 and took Hopkins, who was briefly promoted by Arum, with him, Arum has been fuming.

After all, it was Arum who helped De La Hoya make more money than he could ever have imagined coming out of the 1992 Olympic Games. Hopkins, in two fights with Arum, made the best money of his career.

``They want to be their own promoters,'' Arum said. ``Well, they can't be because, just like I can't go in the ring and jab and throw left hooks and right crosses, they can't promote. Neither can a Swiss banker who has no background in boxing and no background in dealing with the public, call himself a promoter.''

That was a direct shot at Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy and De La Hoya's right-hand man.

``I call them executive boxers,'' King said. ``Loyalty has become a thing of the past. In fact, you are a victim of your own success. The better your promote them, the more money you make for them, the quicker you are going to see your own demise.''

Yes, it is a very good thing that King and Arum have decided to bury the hatchet. Love them or hate them, they are fantastic promoters and they still can't be touched. Golden Boy Promotions seems to be doing well, and other promoters such as Lou DiBella, Gary Shaw and Dan Goosen are formidable. As is Main Events Inc.

But King and Arum are ready to go to the mat against all of them, and they promise they will do it together. King mentioned loyalty. But during his long relationship with De La Hoya that is now very sour, Arum appeared to be very loyal to De La Hoya.

Now, there are two sides to every story, and De La Hoya has never said that Arum was a crook or anything of that nature. But Arum, who built his Top Rank Inc. into a money-making machine, still seems hurt by De La Hoya's most recent departure, their second of two splits.

``Oscar was like a son to me and I was so protective,'' said Arum, flashing back to the screaming match he had with King in the Trinidad-De La Hoya post-fight news conference. ``Well, now, I'm sitting here in 2006 and saying what (an idiot) I was. What the hell was I doing bleeding on the table for Oscar De La Hoya?''

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 20, 2006
Words:903
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