Luis ‘Cuba’ Arias turns the page, looks back
You can make a strong argument that the most exposure Luis “Cuba” Arias has gotten as a prizefighter was the video in which he was given his release from Mayweather Promotions with his former stablemate, J’Leon Love, acting as “The Turk,” who delivered the message for Floyd Mayweather Jr. at his gym.
(For those of you who missed it, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52RV5ewNJXA).
Arias, who fights this weekend at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. admits, “I was definitely highly disappointed in how it ended. I felt like it could’ve been done better in a much more professional manner but, y’ know, it is what it is. I can’t complain about it. I was able to do a lot of things. I was able to learn from a pound-for-pound king. I was able to do a lot of my fights on big-time cards. I fought on two pay-per-view cards. I was fighting on championship fight cards all the time, big Showtime cards, and I was growing as a pro pretty quickly over there.
“I can’t really complain; it was all a learning experience and I was able to make the most out of that.”
And yeah, it surprised Arias that the episode was being secretly recorded and quickly went viral last fall.
“I didn’t even know anyone was recording it; things were happening so fast,” said Arias, who, after turning pro in Nov. of 2012, went 10-0 under the Mayweather Promotions banner. “I had originally headed to the gym just to work out and I didn’t think Floyd was going to go there and then I’m waiting for Floyd to say something to me but he didn’t, so I ran outside. Things just happened so quickly. At first, when I saw the video I was like, ‘Wow, that’s kinda sneaky for somebody…’ but, as time went on, everyone kept telling me that this makes me look better and I should be glad somebody actually recorded it and put it out.”
The root of Arias’ problem with Mayweather was Aria continuing his friendship with the Rahman brothers, who were part of the notorious 30-minute non-stop sparring session – that was…uhhh…”staged” by Mayweather and Showtime for “All Access” – that led them to sue Mayweather.
“I felt like that was petty; the Rahman brothers, they’re both grown men,” Arias states. “The youngest one is 18, 19. Those guys are adults; they make adult decisions. I felt like if that was the case, [Floyd] could’ve asked me what was going on. I would’ve told him and I honestly had told them guys not to do that stuff. Like I said, they’re grown men; they make their own decisions, so I can’t really control that. How you going to be mad at me for talking and being friends with somebody that I can’t control what they do?”
Arias says he is still friendly with his former “TMT” mates.
“It’s no beef against them. Badou [Jack] and Ishe [Smith] didn’t do anything to me,” he pointed out. Having relocated to Florida after this incident, he rarely comes across them now but Arias says, “When I see them, it’s nothing but love.”
So what was it like being part of “The Money Team”?
“I feel like it was a movie. It’s literally like a movie and people get caught up in the movie. They get caught up in being around Floyd and being with Floyd and living off the hype but I can’t really fight for you. So far, I don’t see any fights that Floyd has really been building up, really pushing them or promoting correctly as a promoter. But everyone’s caught up in that, ‘It’s Floyd; it’s TMT.’ They’re caught up in the movie but they’re not really paying attention to that,” said Arias, who admitted, yeah, he also got caught up in all of this, early on.
“I mean, I was able to focus as much as I can. There’s a couple of things that I would’ve done better and could’ve made some better decisions that I did kinda get caught up in being around Floyd. But that’s natural to happen to anybody. When I first came around and I was caught up in the movie myself but I didn’t take me that long to realize what was going on and start making the right decisions and I was just focusing in on my own things and I think it kinda affected me,” he says, in retrospect. “My first year, I was Floyd’s little sidekick. Everywhere Floyd went – I was going with him. I went to Miami; I went to trips to Atlantic City. I was everywhere. Then slowly I started doing my own thing and then I just ended up being by myself. I started going on no trips and the movie just kinda ended.”
And perhaps because he didn’t ingratiate himself enough to King Floyd and kiss his ring often enough, the credits rolled on Arias. Being a part of The Money Team means showing absolute devotion and loyalty to Mayweather.
“Yeah,” agreed Arias. “It has to be all about him. Everything has to be around him. If Floyd wants to wake up and train at 3:30 in the morning, you better get up and go see him train because, the thing is, he sees all this. He pays attention to all of this. So when it comes time to breaking all that money and them paychecks start coming, he takes consideration into that.”
(Hey, that’s hard work! Dedication!)
“So of course a lot of guys are like, ‘Well, that’s my money, so I’m going to do whatever the man says. I’m going to bend over if I have to. If I have to do a back-flip, I’m going to do a back-flip for him.’ So that’s just how he runs his life; that’s how he handles his business. As much as I would have liked it for it to be strictly boxing between him and my career, he was pretty much running everything. He was even trying to run the people I was cool with.”
Is the Floyd that we’ve seen on platforms such as “24/7” and “All Access” the authentic Mayweather?
Arias answers, “Sometimes. He’s been on television so much now that he’s had no choice but to show you the real him. But a lot of that loud stuff, like he does it for TV but one thing is he does live that crazy lifestyle and he is making all that money. So I feel like he’s just in his own world and he’s the ruler, the emperor of his own little world that he created and he holds the most powerful thing to make sure the world is ran correctly – which is the money.
“Everyone around him is going to do what he says because he’s got the money. So if you want the money, you’re going to go by the emperor.”
As the video was released, Arias started getting calls – including one from Top Rank Promotions’ Bob Arum – and eventually he hooked up Rick Torres and Gaby Penagaricano, who are now his co-managers. John David Jackson is his new trainer. Within a month, he had relocated to Florida.
Arias believes everything has worked out for the best.
“Absolutely. I was never being recognized as the best prospect when I was with Floyd. Like I should have been on TV when I was fighting with Floyd. I had the most wins in his company, I had the best amateur record and the best amateur career,” says the native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who won the 2008 and 2010 U.S. Nationals, a National PAL title and captured a bronze at the AIBA Youth World Championships.
“I was consistently performing on all the platforms and I was just being pushed in the back anyways. I was always in the dark; only writers and guys who follow boxing knew who I was and what I was doing. But for the most part, they weren’t really promoting me that well. I was just one of them fighters at the back end. Things weren’t really done correctly. I felt the business just wasn’t ran that well.
“So things happen for a reason and I’m happy I’m not in that whole situation anymore. I feel like I’m in a better situation, more stable and I’ll be promoted correctly.”
With the guidance of his co-managers, Arias signed a deal with Jay Z’s company, Roc Nation Sports. Torres said it was their ”combination of entertainment and sports” that drew them there.
“I’m happy that I signed with Roc Nation; it’s a very big company,” said the 25-year-old Arias. “They have a lot of different platforms; they deal with a lot of big-time athletes. So I was happy, I feel like they’re lacking prospects right now. They have two good big names in there and they need somebody to build up and I feel like I’m the perfect person for that opening. I’m the best prospect already on the list and, come Saturday night, I’m going to prove it. Other than Andre Ward and Paul Smith, no one on the card is ranked as high as me and I’m ready to keep displaying my talent. It’s not going to take me that long to be one of the main guys over there.”
In addition to being promised four fights a year, Aria will get the television exposure he so yearns for. Roc Nation Sports has a deal with BET (which is televising this weekend’s card featuring the return of Ward versus Smith).
Torres says, “I think, within the next year, he’s at least in the position to have a regional belt or be highly ranked and we look forward to taking a shot at a title at some point because he’s an extremely accomplished amateur. I mean, the kid just missed the  Olympics. He had an outstanding amateur record and – say what you will – about TMT; they did match him tough. He’s got a lot of great experience in the ring; he’s had a lot of tough fights and is pretty well advanced.”
There is even talk of moving down to junior middleweight. Regardless, Arias, who’s soon to be moved up to 10-round fights, is excited about the future.
“We’ve got to be a little patient with them but the exposure’s going to come,” said Arias, who was originally slated to face Don Mouton but, according to Torres, it looks like they will now be taking on Tony Brinson. “Like I said, the only names that people know right now are Andre Ward and Miguel Cotto and a handful of people know who I am. So it’s not going to take me that long to become a main event for them on the smaller shows.
“I’m going to be one of the guys that they need to push and the exposure’s going to be there. All I needed was my foot in the door. When I was with Floyd, all I needed was my foot in the door and I took advantage of that. Same goes over here; all I needed was my foot in the door and all their platforms and all the opportunities I will have. Roc Nation, in terms of all the things they can do outside the ring, I’m going to take full advantage of it.
“Like I said, I’m the perfect guy for it.”
Word is Roberto Garcia, who is scheduled to face Errol Spence Jr. in a welterweight contest, is waaaaaaaay north of that and is likely not to make it to the fight. Uh, didn’t he basically pull this stunt back in March when he was scheduled to face Shawn Porter?
Is anyone really surprised by this?
And here we were all wondering if Shawn Porter was going to make weight.
WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman confirmed to UCNLive.com that Deontay Wilder does not have to face his mandatory challenger, Alexander Povetkin till next January. A letter to begin open negotiations between the two parties will go out in October.
Meanwhile, the word is Wilder’s next defense could be on Sept. 26 against Chris Arreola on NBC, provided Arreola wins on July 18 in El Paso, Texas.
DUB NATION FLURRIES
Also on the Roc Nation card is Sonny “Pretty Boy” Fredrickson from Toledo, Ohio, 8-0 (5). Fredrickson is unique in the sense that he’s a 6-foot-2 lightweight with great power in both hands and an aggressive, TV-friendly style. Sounds similar to a young Diego Corrales…After nearly coming apart late, the fight between Jean Pascal and Yunieski Gonzalez was salvaged and will remain the opening bout on July 25 from the Mandalay Bay on HBO…The weight limit for Pascal-Gonzalez has been set at 178 pounds, according to Pascal’s adviser, Greg Leon (yeah, the guy from BoxingTalk.com!) and there will be VADA testing…(Really) Heavyweight Andy Ruiz is now up in Big Bear with trainer Abel Sanchez and has reportedly lost 30 pounds in about six weeks…LeBron James was brilliant but a banged-up Cavs team wasn’t going to beat this version of the Golden State Warriors…Wow, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” really offed Jon Snow? Any chance it’s just a dream sequence like Bobby Ewing in “Dallas”?…Yeah, gonna transition into FX’s “Tyrant” now…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.