During a fight this fall, boxer Pablo Rubio dressed in purple and gold. It wasn’t an homage to his favorite basketball team — he doesn’t really follow sports other than boxing.
Rather, it was a nod to his manager, Metta World Peace.
“I’ve been into boxing since I was a kid,” World Peace said. “My dad was a boxer. I always wanted to be a boxer. … But being able to have fighters is great. I love boxing. It’s something I do with a small percentage of my time.”
World Peace, the Lakers’ 37-year-old forward, represents two boxers, working with Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De La Hoya’s company. Rubio is 8-0 in his career with three knockouts. The other is a newer fighter, welterweight Jhon Sanchez Leon, who is 1-0.
“He’s pretty busy with his side of the career,” Rubio said. “The Lakers are playing, he also does music. He has his own clothing company. … When I do need him he’s there for us. Say I need a workout, or we have a fight coming up. As long as we let him know he will try and be there for our fighters.”
Once long ago, when his name was still Ron Artest, World Peace wanted to box professionally after his basketball career ended with his father’s help. Ron Artest Sr. even sought out Angelo Dundee, Muhammad Ali’s trainer, to teach World Peace.
That was in 2004, and World Peace figured if he trained for 10 years, he might be ready in his mid-30s to make the transition. But later that year, World Peace, then with the Indiana Pacers, was involved in a fight with fans and players during a road game against the Detroit Pistons in November. He was suspended for the rest of the season.
“It was so much negativity happening, I didn’t want to announce that I was going to take up professional boxing when my career was over at the time,” World Peace said. “… I didn’t want to do it no more. And Angelo Dundee passed away. So that was that.”
Now World Peace has another way to connect with the sport.
The partnership with Rubio began when World Peace showed up one day to a fight at the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles. There he met Rubio, a student at Rio Hondo College, whose father helps build the ring on which he fights at Belasco. Pablo Rubio Sr. is the real Lakers fan of the family, and was tickled at World Peace’s involvement.
Since signing him, Rubio said World Peace has attended all but one his fights.
In fact, Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions, says World Peace is a regular at Belasco Theater cards that Golden Boy stages.
“He has a great personality and is very much into it so I believe he can do well in the long term,” Gomez said. “Considering who he is and the fact that he can talk to these fighters, I’m sure he’ll be around for a long while, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Small forward Luol Deng missed Thursday’s game with what the Lakers called biceps tendinitis in his right arm. Deng suffered the injury against the Toronto Raptors on New Years’ Day, but played with it against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. During that game, the injury flared up. Thursday’s game was the first one Deng missed all season. … Until Thursday, Deng was the only player on the Lakers roster who started every game this season. Rookie Brandon Ingram started in his place. … As one of six players who have notched multiple triple-doubles this season, Julius Randle is part of a league-wide trend. According to statistics compiled by the NBA, there have been 42 triple-doubles so far, putting the NBA on pace for 97 by the end of the season. The record for triple-doubles in a season is 78.
Times staff writer Lance Pugmire contributed to this report.
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday.
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet, Spectrum Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 13-26, Heat 11-26.
Record vs. Heat: 0-1.
Update: The Heat notched their 11th win of the season against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. Their 10th win came against the Lakers on Dec. 22.