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Top Rank, Golden Boy settle

Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum is 75, but he sounded like he was 35 after reaching a settlement of all lawsuits between his Top Rank Inc. and Golden Boy Promotions.

The agreement, announced jointly by the companies on Friday, will allow for a rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera to be held on Oct. 6 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Golden Boy chief executive officer Richard Schaefer flew to Las Vegas on Wednesday and had lunch with Arum to finalize the agreement, concluding talks that had begun on June 16.

Because of a confidentiality agreement, neither side would discuss specifics, but the deal covers all outstanding litigation.

"This settles everything and it's great not only for the companies but also for boxing, because we've agreed to work together to make the best possible matches for the sport," Arum said.

The primary dispute was over the rights to Pacquiao, the Filipino super featherweight who is not only one of the sport's finest talents but also one of its biggest draws.

Golden Boy signed Pacquiao to a promotional contract on Sept. 18, hours after he arrived in Los Angeles following an 18-hour flight from his home in the Philippines.

Pacquiao was coming to the U.S. to train for a November fight with Erik Morales – a bout promoted by Top Rank – when he was met at Los Angeles International Airport by Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya.

De La Hoya gave Pacquiao a suitcase filled with money when they met in the back of a limousine, according to sworn testimony given during a deposition by Freddie Roach, who trains Pacquiao and De La Hoya.

De La Hoya denied personally giving the suitcase to Pacquiao, but didn't dispute that the exchange occurred.

After Pacquiao knocked out Morales on Nov. 18, he announced he had also signed with Top Rank and said he had returned the signing bonus to Golden Boy.

Golden Boy refused to accept the money, though, and lawsuits over Pacquiao's rights ensued.

Top Rank went forward as Pacquiao's promoter and staged an April 14 fight against Jorge Solis in San Antonio, a bout which Pacquiao won by eighth-round knockout.

Arum had been working on making an Oct. 6 fight between Pacquiao and Humberto Soto, whom Top Rank also promotes, but he put that aside to make the fight with Barrera.

Pacquiao had upset Barrera in 2003, a fight that propelled him to stardom.

At a news conference in Las Vegas last week to promote Ricky Hatton's fight with Jose Luis Castillo, Barrera said he hoped a fight with Pacquiao could be arranged.

"More than anything else, that's the fight I want," said Barrera, who lost his WBC super featherweight title to Juan Manuel Marquez on March 17 in his last outing. "I've wanted a rematch with Pacquiao ever since (2003)."

The settlement will allow for a number of potentially high-voltage fights to take place. Arum and Schaefer are talking about a match between Soto and the Golden Boy-promoted Joan Guzman, the WBO super featherweight champion.

Chief among the other bouts that could occur as joint Top Rank-Golden Boy promotions is one between welterweights Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley.

Also, Morales could wind up fighting Barrera a fourth time if Morales looks good in his Aug. 4 bout for the WBC lightweight title with David Diaz and Barrera looks good against Pacquiao.

Two of the first three Morales-Barrera fights were voted Fight of the Year and their trilogy stands alongside that of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier as one of boxing's best.

"I don't think there is much doubt that Golden Boy and Top Rank are the leading promoters in boxing today and whenever you have the two leaders in any industry work together, it creates a strength that goes beyond one plus one," Schaefer said. "In this case, it doesn't equal two, but maybe three or four.

"To me, the fans are the clear winners in this. It's a great day if you're a boxing fan, because you're going to have two powerful entities coming together. You don't see in the NFL or the NBA the best franchises fighting or saying they won't play each other. We don't need that in boxing, either, and that's why this settlement is so critical."

Arum said there will still be competition between the companies, but he said the bitterness that has marked much of the last five years has ended.

Top Rank promoted De La Hoya for most of his career and built him into the game's biggest draw. But De La Hoya became disillusioned with Arum and created Golden Boy Promotions to compete directly with him.

The competition became fierce at times and was marked by sharp words. But Arum said that, after his lunch with Schaefer, he realized the sides were in agreement on many issues in terms of making matches and promoting fights.

"Richard respected my age and he came to meet me here (to finalize the deal), which showed a lot of class," Arum said. "It was two good businessmen discussing their common interests. As we shared our ideas on promotions, we realized they coincided in a lot of ways.

"The (Pacquiao-Barrera) fight is a hot fight and I think it's going to sell out Mandalay Bay. We exchanged some thoughts and I think you'll see a tremendous promotion as we move toward that. It's a great thing for the sport and for our companies."

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