"He's going to try to make himself a hero for being a rat fink."
That was Don King in 2000 talking about rival promoter Bob Arum. The head of Top Rank Promotions came clean about bribes to the sanctioning bodies. King was the thrown under the bus in the process. The bombastic King wasn't happy.
"You can't be no hero being a rat fink. You know how you be the hero? Don't participate in rat fink-ism," said King.
The nastiness between the promoters was at an all-time high in 2000. Don't forget, less than a year before, after the King-promoted Felix Trinidad beat Arum's Oscar De La Hoya in 1999, DK celebrated by bellowing:
"The lights are out in Arumville!"
Over the last decade they worked together on several more fights, but because of King's dwindling stable, he sort of disappeared from the big fight landscape. The old fellas back together this week for Miguel Cotto vs. Ricardo Mayorga. Now they're all smiles and paying each other compliments. What happened?
Yahoo!'s lead boxing writer Kevin Iole joined us on video to talk about the interesting history between Arum and King.
"We're not acrimonious, we're promoters. And that's what we do. We have to seize the environment and take time to see what's going on and figure out what's the best way for the promotion to go. If it needs a little acrimony then we'll give them a little flavor of acrimony," King said. "But no, I've never just hated him. Get even with him? Well absolutely. So how do you pay back? You can't just go out there and jump on his back or punch him. So you work hard to find ways to show a punch to the kidney. Or a little embarrassment here or a hilarious situation there."
Well, time healed some of the old wounds, plus the promoters realize when they can bury their angst, they can make lots of money.
"Don and I first worked together on the Ali-Frazier III fight in Manila . But the one we really did a great job on ? because boxing on closed circuit had really died from 1976 to 1980 ? was the first fight between Leonard and Duran in Montreal," said Arum. "That one set all kinds of records and had the country really nuts. That was the first promotion of this modern era and a great success. And that was the first pay-per-view fight."
Arum and King are now trying to right some of their wrongs of the past. They realize that putting fights on pay-per-view and cable channels has helped to marginalize the sport.
"All any major sport wants is to be shown to the widest possible audience on terrestrial television," Arum said. "Boxing has been put into a box because everything is on pay-per-view or pay cable. HBO has 28 million viewers. Showtime has 23 million viewers. That's a small audience compared to 115 million on CBS. The goal is to get boxing back on terrestrial television. I think we're going to be able to do it because we're getting tremendous sponsor support."