Boxing

Bob Arum says ruling on Manny Pacquiao shoulder injury affected fight

“I don’t want to make alibis or anything, what we’ve been through in this training camp,” Pacquiao said.

The old man looked out from the ring at the press section. Here was Bob Arum, president and chief executive of Top Rank Promotions. Here he was at 83 years old, promoting a mega-fight once again. His fighter, Manny Pacquiao, had lost, the judges said. Floyd Mayweather was declared the victor on Saturday night, by unanimous decision. But the old man didn’t seem convinced.

Arum moved little. He just stood and watched as the writers scrambled to file their dispatches.

“How’d you have it?” he asked somebody in the front row. A few seconds later, he smirked, appearing not to like the answer he got.

After a while, Arum sat down in a chair placed for him in the corner of the ring. He watched the crowd, his customers, file out of the arena, unsatisfied by both the result and the overall quality of the bout.

He eventually climbed down from the ring and made a trip back to Pacquiao’s dressing room. Ten minutes later he returned.

“I don’t want to make excuses and say anything,” Arum said to a small group of writers. “But I think you should talk to the [Nevada State Athletic] commissioner. The ruling made tonight affected the outcome of the fight. There’s a big story that I’m not going to go into because that will make me the scapegoat.”

He was asked about a rematch.

“Floyd says he’s going to fight in September, and we certainly won’t be ready to fight in September,” Arum said. “That, you can go to sleep on. That’s an impossibility.”

Why? Arum was pressed, but refused to expand on what he’d said.

“Talk to the commissioner,” he said again.

Yahoo’s Kevin Iole did, and spoke to other people as well, and discovered Pacquiao had suffered a shoulder injury a few weeks prior to Saturday night’s bout. The ruling that Arum was referring to was the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s refusal to allow Pacquiao to take an anti-inflammatory shot.

A few more minutes passed, and the post-fight news conference began. Arum spoke first.

“I thought [Pacquiao] fought a very courageous fight, under all the circumstances,” he said.

The fighter then took the podium.

“I don’t want to make alibis or anything, what we’ve been through in this training camp,” Pacquiao said.

Later, he elaborated.

“We had an MRI. . . . There’s a tear in my right shoulder,” Pacquiao said.

“As the weeks went on, he was throwing better in the gym,” said Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach. “He was doing a lot better sparring. . . . I thought the progress was good enough, and we stayed with the fight.”

After Pacquiao and Roach’s comments, Arum weighed in again, saying documentation regarding the shoulder injury had been filed, “so the commission was well aware.”

Nevada State Athletic Chairman Francisco Aguilar denied Arum’s claim.

“There was never a filing with the commission,” Aguilar said, adding, “That is not accurate at all.”

Then came the question, directed to Arum: If you knew your fighter was hurt, why did you let him fight? Arum grimaced as it was asked.

“Athletes always fight hurt,” Arum said. “We felt that the work that was done on the shoulder would give him the opportunity to use the right hand. We were disappointed when in the third round, the injury kicked up again.”

With that, the winner, Mayweather, had arrived, and it would be left to others to decide whether Pacquiao’s injury affected the fight’s outcome or was an excuse.

“Let’s welcome the champion!” Arum said with a smile before yielding the floor.

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