Tuesday August 26th, 2008

Ten-time world champion Oscar De La Hoya will make a decision on his next opponent by Thursday, Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez told SI.com.

De La Hoya, who has been in negotiations with both lightweight champion Manny Pacquiao and super welterweight titlist Sergio Mora, has whittled his list of possible opponents down to four, according to Gomez. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told SI.com on Tuesday that newly crowned welterweight champion Antonio Margarito is "out of the equation."

The most popular choice remains Pacquiao, who is regarded as boxing's best pound-for-pound fighter. Earlier this month Pacquiao rejected a proposal that would have seen De La Hoya receive 70 percent of the revenues from the fight -- the same split that Floyd Mayweather Jr. agreed to last year.

Though negotiations broke off after that, both sides have recently returned to the bargaining table and there are indications that De La Hoya is willing to soften his stance on insisting on a 70-30 split. Should De La Hoya agree to a 65-35 split or a 60-30 split with the winner taking the final 10 percent, an agreement will likely be reached.

Should the talks fail again, De La Hoya is expected to turn to Mora, an undefeated super welterweight best known for winning the first season of The Contender. Mora won the WBC super welterweight title in June when he won a majority decision over 37-year old Vernon Forrest. Though Mora is scheduled to face Forrest in a rematch in September, if he wins he is expected to be ready to face De La Hoya in December.

De La Hoya's unwillingness to face Margarito is mystifying. A bruising puncher with a granite chin, Margarito established himself as the top welterweight in the world when he stopped previously undefeated Miguel Cotto in July.

Though Margarito has expressed an interest in facing De La Hoya, thus far De La Hoya and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer have been reluctant to consider Margarito. Schaefer told SI.com recently that he believed Margarito first needs to avenge an earlier loss to WBO welterweight champion Paul Williams while De La Hoya told SI.com last week that Margarito should "wait in line because there's 20 other guys that want to fight me."

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