Video of Top Rank promoter Bob Arum getting into a verbal confrontation with boxing reporter Mike Coppinger went viral, and I’m guessing it will have a solid shelf life, because it’s not every day you see an almost 90-year-old man bark and snarl at a guy young enough to be his grandson, who also happens to work for ESPN.
At Wednesday’s Fury-Wilder 3 press conference, Arum — working in concert with Premier Boxing Champions for Saturday’s show — took questions from media, and not just about this weekend’s event.
Arum discussed his “disappointment” in the way Triller mishandled the Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos Jr fight, which will now be promoted by Matchroom Boxing.
“Here’s a kid, Teofimo, who wins the fight that nobody expected him to win, and he’s on top of the world, and he hasn’t fought in over a year,” said Arum. “That’s a criminal, criminal—” and he was then interrupted by Coppinger, who joined the ESPN ranks a few months ago and stood six or seven feet from Arum.
“Yeah, but Bob, it wouldn’t have went to purse bid if you’d have paid (Lopez) what he was looking for,” Coppinger said, and you can see Arum’s face tense up. The promoter hesitates a half second, then lets loose with a doubled barreled counter. “Shut the fuck up you little prick, yeah, you prick,” he barked.
“Oh yeah? Yeah?” Coppinger responded. “Go ahead.” Arum directed Derrick Harmon to usher Coppinger away. In the video, which got posted to several websites, you see Harmon respond after Arum said, “Get him outta here. Move him outta here, Derrick.”
I messaged Coppinger to see what that was all about. I was curious if he was telling Arum it was OK to try and take a poke at him. Coppinger declined to comment, but Arum did not. Bob told me that he took offense in the moment because Coppinger was out of his lane, essentially.
“He’s a reporter, for Christ’s sake,” Arum said a couple hours after the hubbub. “What’s he doing, that’s not acting like a reporter!”
But Arum did say he had no intention of making it anything more than a verbal trade. “I haven’t retired from the (promotional) game, I’m still doing this, but I retired from fighting, like, 20 years ago.”
Arum also got quite animated when discussing what seemed like a possible snafu at the end of the presser. Emcee Kate Abdo, as solid and smooth as they come in this role, asked if maybe the fighters would like to come together for a face-off. She then announced that no, that wouldn’t be happening, at the behest of Bob Arum. I didn’t think it was any sort of big deal, but Arum took umbrage, and unloaded a mini rant about Abdo’s attempt to fashion a faceoff.
He said to a group of media that he thought Abdo was slanted in favor of Wilder, and he went off on it, saying, “Fuck her and fuck them, there was no face-off, and we saved the fight.”
Arum felt the plan to not do a face-off at the presser — which he said had been pre-discussed with FOX producers — was being ignored, but he expended more energy than needed in the moment. And he admitted as much to me when I told him that I think Abdo is a consummate pro. Yes, Arum allowed, and said he did touch base with her after he let loose with his critique, and he stands corrected.
Arum essentially said he apologized to her, and I also messaged Abdo to give her the opportunity to share her take on the matter, and will insert a response if furnished.
My Three Cents: Points to Arum, for being that fired up at 89-plus. You could argue points to Copp, too, for speaking truth to power, even if you think sometimes he and we the media blur lines between reporting news and offering opinion.