Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Updated: August 28, 3:25 PM ET
Sources: De La Hoya, Pacquiao agree to Dec. 6 fight in Vegas
By Dan Rafael
Oscar De La Hoya, boxing's biggest star, will announce Thursday that he will meet pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao on Dec. 6, two sources close to the fight told ESPN.com.
Top Rank's Bob Arum, whose company promotes Pacquiao, would not confirm a deal was in place for what would be the year's biggest fight, but he did tell ESPN.com that De La Hoya would host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday to announce his opponent.
"We'll know who is he is fighting tomorrow," Arum said Wednesday from Youngstown, Ohio, where he was attending a promotional event for the Kelly Pavlik-Bernard Hopkins fight that he is co-promoting with De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions. "I made a commitment that I wouldn't say anything and that tomorrow there would be an announcement. I'm not allowed to make any comments. Everything will be clear on Thursday."
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer would not confirm the deal when asked , but sounded positive when asked about it.
"Last week the deal was 90 percent dead, but we were able to revive it. The fact that it has been so quiet is a good sign," Schaefer said from Mexico, where he was traveling on business with De La Hoya. "It's been a lot of back and forth and skillful negotiating and to try to get each side to soften their stance. If the fight was Arum versus Schaefer, it would have been made awhile ago."
Schaefer dismissed reports this week that welterweight titleholder Paul Williams was under serious consideration to meet De La Hoya. Schaefer said that although Williams' name was thrown out during an internal meeting, it was quickly dismissed, and no contact was ever made between the De La Hoya and Williams camps. Williams promoter Dan Goossen confirmed that as well.
De La Hoya (39-5, 30 KOs), who has repeatedly said the December fight would be the last bout of his storied career in which he's won world titles in six weight divisions, has been in talks with Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 KOs) for weeks. But negotiations got bogged down when the sides could not come to an agreement on how to split the revenue, which is expected to exceed more than $100 million.
De La Hoya stood firm for weeks on a 70-30 split in his favor; Pacquiao was demanding a 40 percent slice of the pie.
The rest of the major issues, from the maximum weight to the size of the gloves, were agreed upon, with Pacquiao getting his way on a 147-pound weight limit and 8-ounce gloves.
The percentage split that De La Hoya and Pacquiao have apparently agreed to is unclear.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer and one of De La Hoya's former trainers, has been an outspoken advocate of the fight, going so far as to say he would train Pacquiao for free because he was so confident he would win.
Roach told ESPN.com on Wednesday that Pacquiao, whom he hadn't spoken to much recently, left him two voice mails at about 7 a.m. ET.
"He left me the messages and at the end of one of them, he said, 'Thanks for all your help.' I read that as the fight is done," Roach said.
Pacquiao, a lightweight titleholder who has won belts in five weight classes and is a national icon in the Philippines, would move up to welterweight for the showdown with De La Hoya.
The fight is expected to take place the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where De La Hoya has fought five of his last six bouts and seven of his last 10.
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.