De La Hoya: Deal not signed yet

Updated: December 21, 2009, 4:41 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

The deal is not done yet, but the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. welterweight title fight likely will take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya told ESPN.com on Monday.

"It looks like it," said De La Hoya, whose company is promoting Mayweather for the fight, of the MGM hosting the much-anticipated March 13 showdown between boxing's top two fighters. "There is no other place you really want to do a big event. It has to be in Las Vegas. But there is nothing 100 percent yet. A done deal is a signed deal and there is no signed deal."

Various media reports over the weekend cited unnamed sources saying that a deal had been finalized for the March 13 HBO PPV fight to take place at the MGM Grand.

Leonard Ellerbe, one of Mayweather's advisers, also told ESPN.com that the MGM Grand was likely but that "talks are ongoing. We haven't signed anything. We don't have a deal yet."

Richard Sturm, who is negotiating the deal as president of entertainment and sports for MGM Mirage, said through a spokesman, "It is not an appropriate time to comment."

Since a fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather first became a serious possibility, the MGM Grand was considered the frontrunner. Its Grand Garden Arena has played host to boxing's biggest Las Vegas fights for more than a decade. Pacquiao and Mayweather have both fought there several times, including in their most recent fights.

Also, Golden Boy and Top Rank, Pacquiao's promoter, both have close ties to the casino.

There has been worldwide interest in hosting the fight from venues in such places as Dallas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Atlanta, Miami, Dubai and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, for instance, offered a $25 million site fee -- the biggest in boxing history -- to host the fight at the new 100,000-seat Cowboys Stadium.

However, the promoters and fighters apparently believe they can generate more money by going to the MGM Grand, which seats only about 17,000, and scaling the ticket prices to produce a record gate of more than $20 million in addition to selling roughly 40,000 closed circuit seats in the city for $100 apiece.

Many believe that wherever the fight takes place, it will break the all-time pay-per-view record of 2.44 million buys set by De La Hoya's 2007 fight with Mayweather, which was at the MGM Grand. That fight also holds the record for biggest gate, generating $18,419,200 from a paid attendance of 17,078.

"We really appreciate Jones' interest in such a mega fight," De La Hoya said about the Dallas offer. "There was interest all over the world. It looks very bright for Mayweather-Pacquiao to possibly be able to break the records that I hold with Mayweather. If we do it right, Golden Boy and Top Rank, we can really shatter the existing record by hundreds or thousands of pay-per-views. It's really exciting."

Official announcement of the fight is expected any day with kickoff news conferences being planned for the first week of January.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.

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