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Friday, January 23, 2009

Pacquiao inks, faxes contract of fight vs Hatton to Top Rank

LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton will end up in the ring together after all.

Pacquiao, who was coming off an easy win over Oscar De La Hoya last month, signed and faxed his bout contract to the headquarters of promoter Top Rank in Las Vegas on Friday.

The popular British fighter and the pound-for-pound king from the Philippines will fight on May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden in easily the year's biggest bout — one that appeared scuttled earlier in the week when Pacquiao refused to accept terms already agreed to by his promoter.

The 12-round junior welterweight fight was expected to be a sellout, Top Rank spokesman Lee Samuels told The Associated Press.

"Manny Pacquiao is the most exciting, charismatic athlete in the world today. He has millions of fans worldwide," Top Rank chief Bob Arum said from Los Angeles, where he was promoting Saturday's welterweight title fight between Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley.

"Now he has a new challenge in facing a champion in Ricky Hatton."

Pacquiao has won his last nine fights and captured a lightweight belt from David Diaz last summer. His enormous following extends from his home country to Las Vegas, which has become like a second home. Still, it's Hatton who was expected to bring the money.

Besides the audience that will tune in overseas, Hatton brought thousands of chanting, singing British fans to the United States for two of his last three fights, an easy win over Paul Malignaggi in November and his only career loss, a 10th-round knockout by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in December 2007.

The original agreement was for Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) and Hatton to split their shares 50-50, with Pacquiao having a $12 million guarantee. Then Pacquiao demanded a bigger percentage, and a new agreement called for him to get a 52-48 split.

Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Shaefer, who represents Hatton, had said on Wednesday that he was canceling a worldwide media tour and even began tossing out alternative opponents for Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs). He sounded more optimistic on Friday.

"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 said. "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?"- AP


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