Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, bitter promotional rivals whose ongoing feud was holding boxing fans hostage because they refused to match their fighters, reached a peace accord Friday after two weeks of court-ordered mediation.
The settlement, reached Wednesday and signed Friday, was jointly announced by the companies Friday. It puts to bed several lawsuits between the firms, including the one at the center of the dispute: ownership of the promotional rights to junior lightweight star Manny Pacquiao, who had signed contracts with both companies before pledging loyalty to Top Rank.
I'm absolutely relieved this is behind us and that we will work together to make some great fights. I think it's tremendous for boxing.
-- Bob Arum
Neither side would discuss specific terms of the deal because of a confidentiality agreement.
"I'm absolutely relieved this is behind us and that we will work together to make some great fights," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com. "I think it's tremendous for boxing."
Richard Schaefer, CEO of Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy, echoed Arum's sentiments, telling ESPN.com, "We are very pleased that we were able to do this. Boxing is the big winner. It's an important day for boxing when you have two of the biggest promotional companies settling their differences and moving on to do things together. We can bring fans great fights. Top Rank and Golden Boy working together is great news for the sport."
Their first fight together under the settlement is a big one. In announcing the settlement, they also announced that Pacquiao would meet Golden Boy's Marco Antonio Barrera in a rematch on Oct. 6 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Pacquiao knocked out Barrera in 2003 to launch himself to stardom in the United States.
Under terms of the settlement, bouts between Pacquiao and Golden Boy fighters will be co-promoted by the companies. If Pacquiao fights an opponent outside of Golden Boy's stable, Top Rank will promote the fight with Golden Boy being paid on the event.
Arum said once the sides agreed to the structure of the settlement, he and Schaefer made the Pacquiao-Barrera rematch in a few minutes over lunch Wednesday in Las Vegas.
"The big picture is that it will enable so many fights to be made quite easily because Schaefer and I are both business people. We're not going to waste time on petty issues like a lot of promoters. We made Pacquiao-Barrera at lunch in 10 minutes."
Arum and Schaefer both gave credit to mediator Daniel Weinstein. Without his involvement, they said they are doubtful they would have come to an agreement.
"He played a very instrumental role," Schaefer said of the retired judge. "If not for him, I don't think we could have done this. He really took ownership of the case and understood how delicate it was."
Said Arum, "Anybody who tells somebody not to use a mediator in this kind of situation is out of their mind. This guy was tremendous in getting both of us to realize how destructive our conduct was and how productive it would be to work together. You need a guy like that to mediate the dispute and see the broader picture."
The settlement resolved other lawsuits between the companies besides just the issue of Pacquiao's promotional rights. Also settled was Arum's suit over revenue related to De La Hoya's 2006 fight with Ricardo Mayorga and Golden Boy's suit against Arum over accounting issues related to past De La Hoya bouts.
"We were able to settle and move on," Schaefer said. "Oscar is very happy. Now, you suddenly have Oscar and Bob promoting events together. Those two guys doing it together is big."
Arum promoted De La Hoya for most of his career, but bitterness arose when De La Hoya left Top Rank to found Golden Boy, which competed directly with Top Rank for fighters and television dates. Arum, who has yet to speak to De La Hoya since the settlement, said as far as he is concerned the bad blood is in the past.
"I'd be a fool if I didn't work with Oscar," Arum said. "Schaefer and I both said everything that has gone on in the past is behind us and we just look to the future."
There are other big fights to be made between the companies besides Pacquiao-Barrera II. Pacquiao's other big-name opponent is another Golden Boy fighter, junior lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez. There are also potential matches between welterweight stars Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley, junior lightweights Humberto Soto and Joan Guzman and junior bantamweights Fernando Montiel and Jorge Arce. Another possible fight is a fourth bout between rivals Barrera and Erik Morales.
"There are a lot of good fights we can do together that fans want to see," Schaefer said.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.