Hatton, Pacquiao headed for May 2 bout

Updated: January 23, 2009, 8:55 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

LOS ANGELES -- In a dramatic reversal of his position, pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao on Thursday night agreed to terms to face junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com.

A day after the fight supposedly dissolved because Pacquiao had not signed the contract for the May 2 super fight by Hatton's prescribed deadline -- causing Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer to declare the fight dead and to cancel a media tour planned for next week -- Pacquiao had a change of heart, Arum said.

The fight would take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

"Manny has assured me that he has signed the contract and was going to announce it to the Filipino press," Arum said.

Pacquiao's $12 million guaranteed purse -- $1 million more than he was guaranteed when he defeated Oscar De La Hoya on Dec. 6 -- probably had a lot to do with it.

"I think everyone [on Pacquiao's negotiating team] finally came to the realization of where we are in the world and where this economy is," Arum said.

Arum passed along the news to Schaefer, who didn't want to commit to anything until he had seen a signed contract and spoken to Hatton.

Arum and Schaefer had originally agreed to a 50-50 deal in mid-December, but Pacquiao demanded the lion's share. Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) budged, agreeing to a 52-48 split in Pacquiao's favor, but it wasn't enough for Pacquiao, who wanted at least 55 percent.

In the end, Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) accepted the 52-48 split with a tweak to another part of the agreement, Arum said.

"Manny had a problem with one thing in the deal but we worked it out," Arum said. "I massaged something in the deal, which I'm not going to tell you about, but it didn't cost me anything. We got it done."

Arum, who is in California promoting Saturday night's Antonio Margarito-Shane Mosley welterweight championship fight at the Staples Center, said his attorney would pick up the faxed confirmation of Pacquiao's signature at his Top Rank office in Las Vegas on Friday morning. After that, Arum said it would be forwarded to Schaefer, who would in turn offer it as proof to a skeptical Hatton.

"I received a copy of the contract signed by Manny Pacquiao. I sent it to England for a signature by Ricky Hatton, but haven't yet received the signed contract," Shaefer told the Associated Press later Friday. "I believe it's going to happen, but it's not finalized. We're working on the paperwork. How can a deal be finalized if only one fighter has signed?"

It had been a wild day before Pacquiao finally agreed to the fight. Arum had said earlier Thursday that he had spoken with Pacquiao's adviser, Michael Koncz, and planned to fly Sunday night to Manila to meet with Pacquiao in a last-ditch effort to get him to sign.

About a half hour later, Koncz called Arum from the Philippines and told him the trip would not be necessary because Pacquiao had decided to sign.

Koncz then surprised Arum, whom Pacquiao had refused to speak with for the past couple of weeks.

"I got on the phone with Manny and I said, 'I can't believe I'm talking to you. Why are you ducking me?'" Arum said. "We had a laugh and Manny told me he had agreed to the fight and was going to sign the contract and fax it to my office."

Arum said all's well that ends well.

"We're dealing with a different culture and a different way of negotiating," he said. "And it's hard to do a deal over the phone where there's a big time difference between us and them on the other side of the world. It's very difficult making a deal. But Manny will make his biggest purse and if the fight is a hit like we all think it's going to be, he could make $20 million for this fight. He's very happy."

Schaefer had left open the possibility of resurrecting the fight after calling it off Wednesday, saying that even though he was going to move on to negotiating with other opponents, they could still make the fight with Pacquiao if he signed a contract before another opponent was secured.

As for the canceled media tour, Arum said they would hit Hatton's native England with stops in his hometown of Manchester and London the last week of February, followed by stops in New York and Los Angeles to promote the pay-per-view fight.

Arum said he and Schaefer are considering proposals from HBO and Showtime, whose deal would include a promotional component by parent network CBS.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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