Arash Markazi
Monday August 18th, 2008

BURBANK, Calif. -- Intent on making his last fight a "worldwide event," Oscar De La Hoya said that negotiations for a possible megafight with Manny Pacquiao, the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, are not dead and that he is hopeful to make an official announcement on his final opponent either by the end of the week or early next week.

"I want a big fight," said De La Hoya from his celebrity golf tournament Monday afternoon. "I want to go out with a big bang. I want to make it an event. I want to make it a worldwide event because I want to show the boxing world and I want to show everybody around the world that boxing is alive and well. I want them to say, 'Look at this big event December 6.'"

De La Hoya, who insists his next fight on Dec. 6 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will be his last, believes there are only a couple fighters left to be paired with that will enable him to have the type of event he enjoyed when he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May 2007. That fight recorded 2.4 million pay-per-view buys while earning him a record $58 million purse.

With Mayweather Jr. announcing his retirement in June, Pacquiao, 29, would appear to be the only fighter who would transform De La Hoya's last fight into the megafight he wants. The other names mentioned after talks between De La Hoya and Pacquiao broke off temporarily last week not only pale in comparison but also seem unlikely when reading in between the lines of what De La Hoya and Richard Schaefer, chief executive of De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, said on Monday.

There had been talk that De La Hoya, 35, would fight the winner of the Sept. 13 Sergio Mora-Vernon Forrest WBC super-welterweight title fight, which is the undercard of the Joel Casamayor-Juan Manuel Marquez fight at the MGM Grand. While Mora -- who like De La Hoya is a Mexican American from East Los Angeles -- has a following from winning the first season of "The Contender" reality series, and Forrest was once De La Hoya's teammate during the 1992 Olympics, neither would elicit the "megafight" that De La Hoya is looking for. Also, De La Hoya and Schaefer stated numerous times Monday that they want to have an opponent signed and announced by next week at the latest, which would likely rule out either Mora or Forrest. De La Hoya did caution that he often fought when he had his next opponent lined up.

"It would be very difficult," De La Hoya said when asked about the possibility of waiting until after Sept. 13 to announce an opponent for his Dec. 6 fight. "I want something done by next week."

Schaefer disregarded the notion of a possible fight with Antonio Margarito, confirming what Bob Arum, Margarito's promoter, had said earlier. "I say wait in line because there's 20 other guys that want to fight me," De La Hoya said when asked about the possibility of fighting Margarito, which tells you where the welterweight from Tijuana is on his list.

While Ricky Hatton's name was brought up, Hatton is already fighting Paulie Malignaggi at the MGM Grand on November 22 for Malignaggi's IBF Light Welterweight title, which would certainly rule him out for De La Hoya's planned Dec. 6 event.

That would leave Pacquiao as the only logical opponent for De La Hoya if he truly wants his last fight to be a megafight. The only question now is, what percentage of the pie will Pacquiao be satisfied with taking? Talks broke down between Schaefer and Arum, Pacquiao's promoter, last week when Arum would not agree to a 70-30 revenue split, holding out for something closer to 60-40.

Pacquiao, however, may be softening up on his stance after his trainer and former De La Hoya trainer Freddie Roach advised him to take the 70-30 cut, which is similar to the deal Mayweather Jr. got when he fought De La Hoya last year, netting him about $22 million. While Pacquiao's purse might not match that, it could exceed $15 million, which would be about four times more than he's ever made for a single fight.

"If you have a chance to make $2 million and a chance to make $10 million, I mean, you just look at that," said Schaefer, who plans on speaking with Arum again this week. "What do you want to do? I think he's starting to realize that. I think he sort of realizes that a certain percent of the big pie is better than a 100 percent of the small pie. I think he and his advisers are starting to recognize that."

The percentage of the payout is the only obstacle left in making the fight a reality. Both sides have already made certain concessions as De La Hoya, a 154-pound junior middleweight, and Pacquiao, a 135-pound lightweight, agreed to fight at 147 pounds, which would be the first time De La Hoya has fought at that weight since March 2001. They also agreed to wear 8-ounce gloves instead of the 10-ounce gloves that De La Hoya prefers. Schaefer said that De La Hoya has even given Pacquiao a better deal than he initially offered when he proposed a 70-30 split of the revenue up to a certain number of pay-per-views before it went to an 80-20 split. He is now willing to give a 70-30 split on all pay-per-view buys, even though he believes most tuning into the fight will be doing so to see his last fight.

"I think Oscar wants to go against a big name and wants to make a big event," said Schaefer, who spoke with De La Hoya about the possibility of making the fight in between holes at the Lakeside Golf Club on Monday. "The kind of event that again will transcend boxing, which generates interest not just within the boxing community but outside as well. And certainly Pacquiao is one of those names."

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