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'Cold War' rages: Top Rank's Bob Arum yanked from conference call

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports
stephen espinoza
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Stephen Espinoza, the general manager and executive vice president of Showtime Sports. (Tom Casino/SHOWTIME)

Slam the brakes on the talk of the thaw in the so-called 'Cold War' between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions.

Since former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer announced his resignation on June 2, relations between the two companies have seemingly improved. Arum flew to Canastota, N.Y., early Sunday morning after promoting Saturday's WBC middleweight title fight in New York between Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez to attend Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya's induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

In his remarks upon induction, De La Hoya urged all in the sport to put petty differences aside for the betterment of the business.

"We must put aside the egos that have damaged our brand and sullied our reputation," De La Hoya said. "We, the promoters, must stop carrying petty grudges that serve no purpose but to divide our sport."

But it was pettiness at its finest Tuesday. Arum was slated to participate along with De La Hoya in Tuesday's teleconference with reporters to discuss the June 21 featherweight title bout in Los Angeles on Showtime between Golden Boy's Gary Russell Jr. and Top Rank's Vasyl Lomachenko.

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Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. (Getty)

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. (Getty)

On Tuesday morning, however, Arum said he was yanked from the call at the request of Stephen Espinoza, the general manager and executive vice president of Showtime Sports. Golden Boy is the lead promoter of the fight, but it is common boxing practice for all promoters to participate in media events such as conference calls when the fighters involved are with more than one promotional company.

"It's just [expletive] stupid," Arum said. "Can you believe this?"

In a statement to Yahoo Sports, Espinoza denied yanking Arum.

"Neither Bob Arum, nor Stephen Espinoza were scheduled to be on [Tuesday's] media conference call," the Showtime statement read.  "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."

Frankly, it's hard to believe that a promoter on a conference call would be an issue, particularly given De La Hoya's recent public statements and reconciliation. Arum's presence on the call would not impact Espinoza nor the event in any way, and it's clear by the fact that Espinoza agreed to allow Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti to participate in Arum's place that it was the right thing to do to allow Lomachenko to have a promotional representative.

When you want to know why fights don't get made, it's hard to believe, but these are the reasons why. Arum and De La Hoya have publicly said they want to work together, and Espinoza frequently hints on Twitter that the reason there are no Top Rank fights on Showtime is because Top Rank chooses to do business exclusively with HBO.

Espinoza was De La Hoya's counsel before he took his job at Showtime.

He's worked primarily with Golden Boy since, and directed Showtime to a magnificent year in 2013, with many great fights and improved ratings. He was chosen as the first Yahoo Sports Boxing Person of the Year in 2013 as a result. He was also picked as the third most influential person in boxing in a Yahoo ranking last year.

No one is saying he needs to buddy up with Arum, but it's ridiculous to be so petty as to demand he not be on a conference call.

Boxing isn't truly going to improve until these kinds of things are relegated to the history books.

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International Boxing Hall of Fame 2014 inductee Oscar De La Hoya looks out to the crowd during the Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in Canastota, N.Y, ...

International Boxing Hall of Fame 2014 inductee Oscar De La Hoya looks out to the crowd during the Hall of Fame …

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