Manny Pacquiao settles Golden Boy suit

Pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao announced Tuesday that he has settled his defamation lawsuit against Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer and president Oscar De La Hoya after they made a public apology to him in a statement crafted by their attorney.

"Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya, on behalf of themselves and Golden Boy Promotions, wish to make it crystal clear that we never intended to claim that Manny Pacquiao has used or is using any performance-enhancing drugs, and further state that we do not have any evidence whatsoever of such use," the statement said.

"Manny Pacquiao is one of the greatest fighters of all time, and we apologize if anyone construed our prior remarks as in any way claiming or even suggesting that Manny uses or has used performance-enhancing drugs."

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

"It's all by agreement of the parties that the terms remain confidential," Daniel Petrocelli, Pacquiao's attorney, told ESPN.com. "Manny is satisfied with the terms of the settlement and the statement Golden Boy issued, and he agreed to the settlement."

In December 2009, Pacquiao filed suit in U.S. District Court in Nevada against the Golden Boy executives along with Floyd Mayweather Jr., Floyd Mayweather Sr., Roger Mayweather and Mayweather Promotions, alleging that they made false and defamatory statements accusing him of taking performance-enhancing drugs.

While the suit against Schaefer and De La Hoya was dropped, Pacquiao's suit against the Mayweathers continues, Petrocelli said.

"This is just a dismissal against the Golden Boy parties," Petrocelli said. "We may be adding to (the lawsuit) because of additional defamatory statements that the Mayweather folks have put out. All the defendants tried to have the case dismissed, claiming the case had no merit, and the court denied all those motions, so the case proceeds. We will ask for a trial date in the near future against the Mayweather parties."

The settlement paves the way for Pacquiao, who is promoted by Bob Arum's Top Rank, to potentially face a fighter who is with Golden Boy, Top Rank's bitter rival.

The powerhouse promotional companies have had a terrible relationship for years, resulting in their refusal to put on fights between their stars. Much of the acrimony stems from a lawsuit over the rights to Pacquiao's promotional contract, which Top Rank was awarded in a settlement.

They have been involved in mediation to help settle their issues. Two weeks ago in Los Angeles, Golden Boy allowed Top Rank to sign Juan Manuel Marquez, a longtime Golden Boy fighter, to face Pacquiao on Nov. 12. Even though Marquez's Golden Boy contract had recently expired, Golden Boy retained the right to match any offer to Marquez through February 2012.

"I think this clears the way for future fights with one of their fighters with Manny, all other things being equal," Arum told ESPN.com. "Prior to the apology we would not have not considered it. This (PED accusation) was something directed at Manny. He's accepted this apology and indicated that he has accepted it by settling the lawsuit, so we move on.

"This clears the way for any Golden Boy-Top Rank fight in the future if the fight makes sense for both sides. We shook hands on that after the mediation (two weeks ago)."

The comments Pacquiao alleges the Mayweathers made arose in late 2009 during the first round of what became two failed negotiations to make a fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather Jr., a fight most believe will be the richest fight in boxing history if it is ever put together.

The first negotiation fell apart over a single issue -- Mayweather's demand that Pacquiao submit to random urine and blood testing for both fighters during the lead-up to the fight.

Pacquiao agreed to random unlimited urine testing, but only limited blood testing. The Nevada State Athletic Commission, which would have overseen the proposed bout in Las Vegas, only requires urine testing.

Pacquiao has never been linked to PEDs, but the Mayweathers, Schaefer and De La Hoya made comments insinuating that he had. Mayweather Sr., in particular, was vocal about it, pointing to the fact that Pacquiao, who began his professional career at 106 pounds, had gone on to win titles in a record seven weight classes while retaining his speed and power. Pacquiao has since added a title in an eighth division.

In Pacquiao's lawsuit, he alleged that beginning in September 2009, the Mayweathers, De La Hoya and Schaefer publicly stated that Pacquiao uses PEDs.

"I maintain and assure everyone that I have not used any form or kind of steroids and that my way to the top is a result of hard work, hard work, hard work and a lot of blood spilled from my past battles in the ring, not outside of it," Pacquiao, now a congressman in the Philippines, said at the time. "I have no idea what steroids look like, and my fear in God has kept me safe and victorious through all these years."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.