LAS VEGAS — He calls it his No Trump undercard partly because he’s a boxing promoter and there’s one last Manny Pacquiao fight that by most indications is in serious need of promotion.
Bob Arum isn’t about to apologize for that, just as he won’t apologize for the underlying message he is delivering. If it costs him some pay-per-view buys from Donald Trump’s fans on April 9, then so be it.
”The more Donald Trump supporters I alienate, the prouder I am,” Arum said. ”I know who he’s appealing to, and if they’re his supporters, let them stay home and not buy my fight.”
The No Trump undercard featuring mostly Hispanic fighters is, of course, a byproduct of this year’s divisive presidential race. It’s also Arum’s way of showing his solidarity with the Hispanic community that is one of the biggest markets for his fights.
He might lose a few Trump fans along the way. He might get a few more people to buy the fight because of it.
There might be no better way, though, for someone who cut his political teeth working as a foot soldier for John Kennedy in the 1960 presidential campaign to make another political statement that is relevant today.
”I have great admiration for the Hispanic community and these are kids with impeccable backgrounds and credibility,” Arum said. ”I think that is a statement that refutes the picture Donald Trump wants to paint when it comes to Hispanics.”
Arum came up with the idea of his No Trump undercard while figuring out what fighters to put on the pay-per-view show from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas prior to the main event between Pacquiao and Bradley.
Much of his stable of fighters is Hispanic to begin with, so that part took care of itself. The catchy name came next, and the next thing you know, Arum was off selling it.
It’s a way to get people to pay attention to a third fight between Pacquiao and Bradley that is proving a tough sell. Their previous two fights were lackluster, and Pacquiao’s return to the ring is clouded by the fact most boxing fans perceived his megafight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. as a big dud.
Trying to get people to part with their money is still Arum’s main job, and at the age of 84 he still does it better than anyone half his age. Trump used to do the same kind of thing when he hosted fights with Mike Tyson and others in his Atlantic City casinos.
But Arum also says the idea of a No Trump undercard can help wake up the Hispanic community to what he believes are the dangers of a Trump presidency.
”It’s almost like I’m being Paul Revere to my Hispanic friends,” said Arum, who has long been a champion of liberal causes and now supports Hillary Clinton. ”This isn’t something to be laughed at and taken lightly.”
One of the fighters on the undercard is undefeated Jose Ramirez, who will meet Manny Perez in a super lightweight bout. He’s the son of immigrants who came from Mexico to work the fertile fields in Central California and make a better life for their families.
Ramirez was born in Avenal, Calif., and worked the fields himself in high school to make extra money. He also proudly represented the United States in the 2012 Olympics, and is actively involved in a campaign for water rights for the farms surrounding his hometown.
”No one deserves to be called the type of things Donald Trump has said about us,” Ramirez said. ”I’m here to be an example and show them that it’s wrong.”
Ramirez is particularly troubled by Trump’s plan to build a giant wall and deport millions of people who came to the country illegally.
”That’s not something an educated person with good morals and good ethics would say,” the 23-year-old boxer said. ”I’m not going to just ignore it. I want to use this fight to deliver a message. If we ignore it, obviously he might get away with what he wants.”
That is Arum’s fear, which he says goes long beyond a slogan or a fight. He genuinely believes Trump is dangerous to the country and even more dangerous to Hispanics in the country, whether legal or not.
If people in other sports aren’t speaking up, he is. Judge it how you want, he says, but make sure you’re listening.
Oh, and buy the fight, too. But only if you’re a fan.
”I’m not saying buy the fight if you resent what Trump said. That’s stupid,” Arum said. ”What I’m doing is sending a message to the Hispanics not to sit on your hands and wait for this to happen. Then you’ll be in the situation where 11.5 million of your fellow Hispanics are being deported from this country and it will be too late to do anything.”