After Felix Trinidad unloaded on Ricardo Mayorga, Don King unloaded on HBO with a rant about the pay-cable giant's alleged discrimination against him.
At a post-midnight news conference at Madison Square Garden, King expressed irritation that HBO commentator Larry Merchant, a longtime target for the promoter's complaints, had resisted hyping King's Nov. 13 pay-per-view card at the Garden featuring four heavyweight bouts, despite assurances from HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg that he would do so.
"It's always HBO's way or it's no way," King huffed. "They got guys over there who are trained to keep Don King off-camera, to not let Don King be seen. It's almost like slavery. You do the work, they get the pay. They'll be the master."
King claimed he originally had requested Sept. 18 for Trinidad-Mayorga, but that HBO set aside that date for the Bernard Hopkins-Oscar De La Hoya megafight and pushed Trinidad's pay-per-view return bout back to the less-desirable Oct. 2 date, which was competing for viewers with a card televised by Showtime.
"My show was diluted just to bleep me," King said. "They gave me six days to promote this card and Bob Arum six months to promote the Hopkins-De La Hoya swimming match."
King was especially incensed that Hopkins, whom he formerly promoted, appeared during the telecast to offer his thoughts on Trinidad's comeback following a 28-month retirement.
"No matter how I begged, pleaded, cajoled, wheedled, [HBO] said, 'We don't want Bernard Hopkins. We don't care who he fights,' " King said. "Now that he's not with me, he's the star of HBO. There's something wrong with this picture."
Greenburg refuted King's allegations and said the promoter had "crossed the line" with comments Greenburg said he found to be personally demeaning.
"A lot of things Don says, you just let slide by because he's Don and you know he's setting the stage for some sort of negotiating ploy," Greenburg said. "This time I am not so inclined to let things slide. We had a terrific fight Saturday night and all of us at HBO were on such a high. Then the next morning I read and heard about what Don had said and it took all the fun out of what should have been a great night for boxing."
King - whose final dates on his deal with HBO are the heavyweight quadruple-header (Chris Byrd-Jameel McCline, John Ruiz-Andrew Golota, Evander Holyfield-Larry Donald and Hasim Rahman-Kali Meehan) and one more bout involving Trinidad - said he considers himself a "homeless promoter."
"I may have to go it myself," King said. "I've had it with HBO."