- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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As Howie Mandel asks contestants each week on his hit game show: Deal or no deal?
No deal, it appears.
A week after face-to-face negotiations began for a Dec. 6 megafight between Oscar De La Hoya, boxing's most popular star, and Manny Pacquiao, the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, talks have broken down, leaving the fight in doubt.
Talks reached a stalemate Wednesday when neither De La Hoya nor Pacquiao would budge from the percentage split each wanted.
According to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, Pacquiao's promoter, De La Hoya was seeking a 70-30 revenue split in his favor while Pacquiao wanted 40 percent of an HBO PPV fight that would likely generate more than $100 million.
"Bob told me today that Manny has declined to the accept the terms," Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com. "I had a nice conversation with Bob. We'll move on and I guess Manny will move on."
The other issues in the way of De La Hoya-Pacquiao had been resolved. The sides agreed to a 147-pound maximum weight limit, meaning De La Hoya would have to make the welterweight limit for the first time since defeating Arturo Gatti in 2001. The lightest De La Hoya, who has won titles in six divisions, had been since was for his May decision win against Steve Forbes when he weighed 150 pounds.
Pacquiao, who holds a 135-pound lightweight title after starting his career as a 106-pounder, would have moved up two weight classes to fight De La Hoya.
Also resolved was the issue of the gloves for the fight that would have taken place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where De La Hoya figures to face a different opponent at the end of the year unless he or Pacquiao has a change of heart.
Arum said the sides had also agreed to wear 8-ounce gloves of the brand of their choice instead of 10-ounce gloves
Schaefer said those issues were resolved because De La Hoya had given in. De La Hoya had wanted the weight limit to be 150 pounds and to fight in 10-ounce gloves.
Also, Schaefer said that De La Hoya had already moved on his financial demands.
Initially, De La Hoya proposed a 70-30 split of the revenue up to an undisclosed number of pay-per-view buys. After the fight reached that number, De La Hoya wanted an 80-20 split on the remainder of the buys. Eventually, he scrapped the 80-20 part of the deal and agreed to 70-30 for all buys.
"On the three sticking points, Oscar gave in on 2½ of them you could say," Schaefer told ESPN.com.
But the lack of movement on the overall split is what really damaged the deal.
"Richard and I had a good meeting and we resolved the other issues," Arum said. "Oscar wanted 70-30 and Richard and I figured that there would be room for movement. Oscar was supposed to come in [to Los Angeles] this week to meet with Richard in person, but he didn't make it and had to do it on the telephone. Oscar was adamant about it being 70-30 or no deal. Richard told me that and that I transmitted it to Pacquiao and his people in the Philippines. They told me that there was no deal and to look to make another fight."
Said Schaefer: "Pacquiao has an adviser and lawyer, [Franklin "Jeng" Gacal] who basically is caught up in percentages. But if you go buy a car or a house or food do you pay in percentages or in money? The answer is you pay in currency not in percentages. I hope this has properly been explained to Manny."
Arum said his backup plan is for Pacquiao to defend his lightweight belt against Humberto Soto, a top junior lightweight who would move up for the opportunity. However, Arum does not have a site or venue in which to stage the fight in the jam-packed fall.
As for De La Hoya, Schaefer said he still intends to fight Dec. 6. De La Hoya has repeatedly said it will be the last fight of his storied career.
Schaefer would not say who the possible opponents are but said he had a list of three fighters "and I am already negotiating with one of them."
Arum was clearly disappointed with the turn the talks took.
"This is not Richard or me f------ around," he said. "Richard and I had a very frank discussion. I always felt there would be a deal. When Richard came back and said that Oscar wasn't moving, I was surprised. Unless there is movement, the deal is off."
Schaefer's words from a week ago when talks began were prophetic when he said, "I think what it will take is for Manny to give and for Oscar to give to get a deal done."
Had Pacquiao, who has won titles in five divisions, accepted the 30-percent split, he could have earned his biggest payday, upwards of $10 million to $15 million. Arum said that is not the way Pacquiao thinks.
"The question in a fighter's mind is not how much they're going to make, but what is a fair split," he said. "Forget the ultimate number. They have to perceive what they are getting is fair. The deal we were working on was a lot of money for both guys. The question is what is a fair split? I thought somewhere between 30 and 40 percent for Manny was fair."
The most Pacquiao, 29, has ever made for a fight is about $5 million, Arum said.
"It is a bit mind-boggling for me that he would have to fight three or four times to make what he could make to fight Oscar," Schaefer said. "I hope Manny has been given all the information by his people."
Arum said he wished that De La Hoya had said it was 70-30 or nothing from the start.
"You don't start a negotiations offering 30 percent and adamantly take the position that you're not going to move. He should have said that in the beginning. It's not Richard, it's Oscar. He says Manny shouldn't get more than Floyd [Mayweather]. Floyd got 30 percent. Manny says he's bigger than Floyd was at the time."
When De La Hoya, 35, lost to Mayweather in May 2007, Mayweather received 30 percent of the promotion for what turned out to be the biggest grossing fight in history.
Arum left the door open to still making the fight.
"If they called us and proposed 35 percent I would go and I would be able to get the fight done," Arum said. "I hope that Oscar, with all his money and everything, is going to be sensible here."
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.
After several hours of serious talks last week, the Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao fight appears to have been knocked out.