Arum rips HBO’s Thrilla in Manila, calling it unfair to Ali

LAS VEGAS – Bob Arum threw a combination as only he can, first by praising Home Box Office for its work in the build-up to Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez and then ripping the network for its documentary, Thrilla in Manila, a look at the Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali rivalry that HBO will replay Thursday and Sunday in honor of the late Frazier.

“That documentary, I find is disgusting,’’ Arum said Wednesday after HBO senior vice-president Mark Taffet announced the scheduling during a formal news conference for the third chapter in the Pacquiao-Marquez trilogy Saturday at the MGM Grand.

The 2009 film tells a story about the Muhammad Ali-Frazier rivalry through the eyes of Frazier, 67, who died Monday from liver cancer. Through most of his life, Frazier was bitter at the way he was treated by Ali, who called him “ugly”, a “gorilla,’’ and an “Uncle Tom’’ during their heavyweight trilogy.

Arum remembered Frazier as a great fighter, yet he was angry at the film’s portrayal of Ali.

“I’m 80,’’ said Arum, a former Ali promoter. “I was there. It is an unfair attack on Ali. Watch it. But don’t believe a word that is said.’’

The 90-minute documentary is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (ET/PT) on Thursday and 5:30 p.m. (ET/PT) Sunday.

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