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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pacquiao promoter Arum sprouts wings in champ's cancer fight

Manny Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum has tried his best to keep a lid on this. He probably thinks he can keep my big mouth shut on it as well.
The Top Dawg from Top Rank is one of the richest and most powerful people in boxing. He’s got real political strength in hometown Las Vegas and through the entire state of Nevada.

Arum runs with big dogs, with governors and United States Senators. I bet he’s got Democratic power broker Harry Reid on speed dial. They probably have lunch together from time to time what with Arum being an business tycoon in Vegas and a lifelong supporter of the donkey party dating back to the pre-boxing days when he worked under Robert Kennedy in the Justice Department.

Arum, 78 and holding, will discourse on almost every subject. He will be flapping his lips in public Tuesday in New York as he kicks off prefight hype for the big Miguel Cotto-Joshua Clottey June 13 title bout at boxing’s onetime Mecca, Madison Square Garden.

But I can tell you there’s one topic that will be verboten at the Garden. There is one subject that Arum won’t lay a glove on.

No, it’s not something as trivial as how Cotto’s uncle and erstwhile trainer, Evangelista Cotto, recently hurled a brick through the window of his nephew’s spiffy Jaguar or how they had a fistfight outside a gym in Puerto Rico.

No, what Arum will demur to discuss is a matter of life and death and the crucial role he has played and continues to play.

Or maybe I should say pay.

You see, I’ve just learned from an impeccable source that it is Arum who has gone into his personal pocket to pay the astronomical medical bills, or a large portion of them, for two-time former world junior lightweight champion, Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez.

Here’s a squib from an excellent article about Chicanito’s plight and fight as written by Michele Chong I believe on I hope I’ve gotten the source right. She wrote:

Unfortunately, the disease runs in his family and he tells me during our conversation that both his father and mother had cancer. Genaro, 42, says with disbelief: "I had no symptoms, just a little lump near the jaw area that I thought was fatty tissue. So I went to the doctor to have it removed back in September. Then after about a week, I noticed two other lumps near my collarbone, so I had a CAT scan. At first they didn't think it was cancer--the tests came back negative. But after a biopsy, they found tumors growing in my sinus and my lymph node. I have a rare form of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma that is usually only found in kids."

Read the entitre article as carried by the Burbank Boxing Club website.

Now let’s reveal my happy and relieved source, fight trainer and Chicanito brother Rudy Hernandez:

“People can say this and that about Bob Arum,” Rudy H. told me over the weekend by phone from Los Angeles. “I have probably cursed out Bob once in a while. I figure Bob won’t talk about this so I want people in boxing to know about it.

“My brother is winning his fight for life according to his great doctors in Houston. He’s still got a lot of chemotherapy sessions to go and he’s slimmed down to 118 pounds. I never thought I would see my brother, a world champion twice at 130 pounds, being a bantamweight again.

“But, as you know, my brother has a family to support. He’s got a wife and kids and he’s been able to keep up somewhat with calling fights on TV. He will be working the Spanish telecast for Pacman-Hatton come May 2, courtesy of Bob Arum.

"In our rough business, promoters get kicked and sometimes they do the kicking. But it’s been Arum who has picked up the bulk of the medical costs for Genaro and I think people should know about, know this side of Bob Arum. He’s been a Godsend in this regard.”

If you know the Rude Dog, and most everyone in boxing does as he’s worked with the likes of Edwin Valero, Jorge Linares and many other world champions past and present, he does not sugarcoat his words.

In this case, I won’t ask Arum for amplification. In this case, I won’t call him an angel or say he has finally earned his wings.
But this good deed is worthy of being duly noted. And now it has.

It’s not the first time Arum has gone to bat for a troubled fighter. When Top Rank boxer Richie Sandoval was seriously hurt in a fight and had to retire, he was at loose ends and badly in need of financial help.

Bingo, Arum hired Sandoval as a pr guy for the Spanish language market and he worked right out of the Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas.

The Ali-Frazier Manila bout documentary on HBO Saturday reminded me of a silent but charitable act “committed” by Arum’s archrival, Don King.

When Ali’s mystical corner man Drew “Bundini” Brown died, he was headed for a pauper’s burial in rural Florida.

Quietly but deftly, King footed the bill for a proper sendoff for the “float like a butterfly, string like a bee” man when no one else stepped up.

I got that story from an avowed enemy of King at the time, the late fight agent Norman Henry, so I knew it to be true.

No one should measure Arum, King or any other fight promoter for an angel costume but I do think their occasional good deeds should go unpunished but not unnoticed.

Fight promoters with some heart. Who would have thunk it?

I figure it like this: we slam them when we think they’re doing bad so let’s be fair and give them a thumbs up when we “catch” them doing right. Chicanito may be ahead on points but he has many rounds to go. He was a winner in the ring with a 38-2-1 pro record and he will be a winner in this fight which makes boxing Floyd Mayweather look like an easy task.

(Kudos also to Senor Sulaiman, the lovely and talented Ms. Diamond, Emperor of Japan Boxing Mr. Honda and all the others who have helped this deserving ex-champion out.)

Nearly 80, Bob Arum has sprouted some wings.

Guess age has nothing to do with being angelic.


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