Was De La Hoya really paid $5M to attend Affliction?

Oscar De La Hoya has yet to appear at a public boxing event since his crushing loss last month to Manny Pacquiao. He was nowhere to be found during the promotion of Saturday's massive welterweight title fight in Los Angeles between business partner and friend Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito that drew an arena-record 20,820 fans to watch Mosley upset Margarito.

Speculation as to why he was a no-show ranged from De La Hoya preferring not to be grilled by boxing reporters about his future to a desire to avoid getting placed in the middle of the BALCO fiasco surrounding Mosley to a wish not to be booed by the heavily Mexican and Mexican-American crowd.

On Saturday's HBO telecast, analyst Larry Merchant added another reason when he said De La Hoya was paid $5 million to appear at the Affliction: Day of Reckoning mixed martial arts card just down the road in Anaheim, Calif.

"A celebrity who is here in bronze only, Oscar De La Hoya, [while] the live version is in nearby Anaheim, where his company got a $5 million fee from a T-shirt maker so that he would be personally involved the promotion of a mixed martial arts show," Merchant said.

That was big news in the MMA industry, since the entire announced payroll of Affliction's card was $3.3 million. The paid attendance was 8,946 for a gate of $1,512,750.

If Affliction did indeed pay De La Hoya $5 million, that meant that not only did the boxer attending his first MMA show make $1.7 million more than all of the fighters on the card combined, but that Affliction was also in the hole nearly $7 million without figuring in expenses before adding the pay-per-view income.

Merchant said on Monday that Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer told him the figure. All sides, though, insisted there was no such payment.

"I was curious whether Oscar would make his first public appearance at a fight since Pacquiao, so I asked Richard Schaefer whether he would be there," said Merchant about what he asked Schaefer at the prefight news conference Thursday. "Richard told me that Oscar was going to be at the MMA event because a $5 million sponsorship by the T-shirt company included his personal involvement."

But Schaefer and Affliction Entertainment vice president Tom Atencio each vehemently denied that.

"Oscar didn't make a penny off that show," Schaefer said. "Not a thing."

Golden Boy and Affliction announced a partnership in December to promote MMA shows together and, potentially, a combined boxing/MMA card. Schaefer said Affliction, which manufactures high-end T-shirts that are popular with young MMA fans, would use its network of 22,000 stores to help promote the events.

It in turn, he said, would then cover all expenses, including paying the purses of the fighters and marketing the event. Golden Boy's end of the deal, Schaefer said, would be to run the operational side of things and arrange for licensing, handle the fighters' medicals, book the venues and deal with the relevant state athletic commissions. Affliction Entertainment does not have a promoter's license.

Golden Boy also promised to make De La Hoya available to help market and promote the events.

"I booked [the Honda Center] for Jan. 24 and took care of the pay-per-view," Schaefer said. "A month or a month-and-a-half later is when we began to discuss Margarito-Mosley. The only date HBO could do it was Jan. 24, but at first, I was not worried because it was going to be in Vegas and the Affliction show would be in Orange County. But then we decided to put the boxing match in Los Angeles and you can imagine that the Affliction people, who had put up all the money and were taking a risk on the pay-per-view and taking a risk on the gate, weren't too happy.

"Do you think they were excited? Frankly, they were ticked off. We had committed to them that Oscar would help them to promote the show and that's what we did. Oscar was there every step of the way trying to help market that show, but to say Oscar was paid even one penny would be wrong."

Atencio said much the same thing and credited De La Hoya for keeping his word to appear at the MMA event even though it meant missing a major show put on by the company he founded.

"It is not true and it is, in fact, 100 percent false," Atencio said of the alleged payment to De La Hoya. "Oscar was involved with this from the beginning with our partnership. He's a good partner and he honored his agreement. Our date was set before the Margarito-Mosley date. Richard went to the boxing and Oscar honored his word and came to our show. That's what a good partner does and Oscar and Richard are good partners."