Bob Arum: Stampede after Mayweather-Maidana was 'an accident ready to happen'

Martin Rogers
Yahoo SportsMay 5, 2014
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BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 10: Bob Arum speaks at a press conference announcing the signing of Ryota Murata with Top Rank Boxing as he starts his professional career at Beverly Hills Hotel on June 10, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS – Boxing promoter Bob Arum says the main exit from the MGM Grand Garden Arena was "an accident ready to happen" in the aftermath of a crowd stampede that injured approximately 60 fans following Saturday's championship bout between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana.

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Arum, who has promoted many high-profile fights at the venue, spoke out in the wake of what witnesses described as a "terrifying" situation that left many fearing for their lives and 24 being sent to hospital – including a six-year-old boy and several elderly women.

"When you jam thousands of people into a building and have, in effect, one real exit which is relatively narrow space you are looking for trouble," Arum said in a telephone interview with Yahoo Sports.

"While nothing really happened over the years it was inevitable to me that something would happen. Not to be naïve but the egress from that arena was always an accident ready to happen."

Boxing fans and members of the media have long been frustrated by the packed and slow-moving conditions in the section that leads from the MGM Grand Garden Arena's upper concourse, past its media center and out into the Garden Walk section of the casino.

Arum described the scene after fights as "oppressive" and said the area could quickly turn hostile. The 82-year-old claimed he was caught in a "very dicey situation" following the controversy surrounding Manny Pacquiao's defeat to Timothy Bradley in June 2012, as supporters reacted angrily to the judging decision.

On Saturday, fire department chiefs reported that a loud bang caused by a temporary wall falling over led to panic, with many believing the noise to be gunfire. The crowd shifted suddenly in response, causing a number of fans to be pushed over and trampled underfoot.

The MGM Grand released a full statement on Sunday and a spokesperson said management was still conducting an investigation into the matter.

"Following Saturday's boxing event at the MGM Grand Garden, guests exiting the arena were apparently startled by a loud noise, sending many rushing to clear the area," read the statement. "The source of the noise remains undetermined. Investigators have found no evidence of gunfire, as reported by some media outlets.

"MGM Grand security and Metro police who were already on the scene responded quickly to assist. Twenty-four injured guests were transported to local hospitals for assessment.

"Our staff continues to assist guests and take reports regarding the incident. Safety is always a priority at our resort. We are investigating the situation thoroughly to understand more completely what occurred, to assist those affected, and to ensure further safety precautions."

Following the events of this weekend, it is clear that steps must be taken to avoid further highly dangerous, and potentially deadly, scrums of people in the packed minutes when the arena clears.

The MGM has no shortage of reliable witnesses to call upon to further understand the extent of the disturbing situation, with referee Kenny Bayless, former fighters, members of Mayweather's family and several media personnel having been caught in the packed foyer.

But even if the property takes strong and swift action, Arum said the layout of the area outside the arena makes quick dispersion of people very difficult.

"I am sure they will try to take steps now to prevent that happening in the future," Arum added. "But the real problem is the egress…when you have that many people trying to get out of that small a space."