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Trinidad, De La Hoya Fight Over Rematch

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Round two of negotiations for Felix Trinidad-Oscar De La Hoya II has ended as did the first round.

With no decision.

One of the old stumbling blocks is gone, but there are new ones.

Bob Arum, De La Hoya’s promoter, doesn’t blame his old nemesis, Don King, Trinidad’s promoter, for the stalemate. He blames Trinidad’s father, Felix Sr.

“One thing about Don King, he’s a scumbag, but he’s a professional,” Arum said.

Arum has obviously let the holiday spirit get to him.

After Trinidad beat De La Hoya in September on a decision, adding the World Boxing Council welterweight title to his own International Boxing Federation championship, the negotiations for a rematch bogged down over two issues--money and weight.

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Trinidad said that, as the winner and titleholder, he should get more money than De La Hoya. In the first fight, De La Hoya made about $23 million to Trinidad’s $10.5 million. Trinidad also wanted the rematch in the super-welterweight class, the fighters going from 147 pounds to 154.

King, however, didn’t even let the De La Hoya camp mull over the demands. A meeting between De La Hoya and Trinidad people was held on a Saturday morning in Las Vegas. By that evening, King had already stunned the boxing community by signing Trinidad to a fight against David Reid, the World Boxing Assn. 154-pound champion, who is promoted by Dan Goossen.

“One thing I’ve learned in this business is that you don’t let Don King feel threatened,” said Jay Larkin, head of the Showtime cable network. “He felt threatened in that meeting with Arum and HBO, so he made the Reid deal just to show that he was not in a corner. If you try to back King up, he can be a dangerous adversary.”

Among those surprised was Larkin, since Showtime was being announced as the pay-per-view distributor.

Also caught unaware were Time Warner/HBO officials, who say they have an option on Reid’s next two fights.

Not to mention Derrell Coley, the World Boxing Council’s No. 1 welterweight contender, who had been in line to fight Trinidad. The Coley situation was especially sticky because his promoter is . . . Goossen.

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Since then, De La Hoya has said he would take less money to fight Trinidad, and King has postponed the Reid fight and backed down on the weight jump.

Prospects for the rematch, the most compelling fight in boxing right now, looked promising. So the sides met again in New York last week.

And now, there are three stumbling blocks:

* Money. De La Hoya has said he would be willing to take 48% of a proposed $30-million pot for the rematch. But Trinidad’s handlers aren’t satisfied with 52%.

* Power. In the first fight, Arum called the shots. King understandably wants to do that in the rematch. Arum’s side is holding out for a contract that calls for a co-promotion.

* Another fight. When King abandoned the initial negotiations, De La Hoya signed to fight Coley on Feb. 26 in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The Trinidad side is demanding that De La Hoya back out of that fight, claiming they don’t want the risk of a De La Hoya loss ruining the rematch. Arum is holding firm, saying a deal is a deal.

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So, still no rematch.

The logical move now would be for Trinidad to go ahead with the Reid fight in early spring, either on Showtime, or HBO if it matches Showtime’s deal, thus staying on the same schedule as De La Hoya. If both fighters are victorious, the rematch could be held June 17.

But Goossen, who was so proud of pulling off the Trinidad-Reid bout, now stands in the way. He has gone to federal court to ask a judge to declare that HBO has no claim to the match.

“It doesn’t apply in this case,” said Jethroe Eisenstein, Goossen’s attorney. “Their contract only applies when David Reid fights for America Presents. This fight would be a Don King production.”

Goossen went even further:

“The people at Time Warner think of themselves as an 800-pound gorilla, stomping out a fighter or a company if they don’t fall into line. They know a victory [over Trinidad] would make David Reid a star. Their goal is strictly Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad.”

Responded HBO Vice President Lou DiBella: “We paid the kid [Reid] multiples of his value when he was coming up, so what’s the problem now? It’s not like I [HBO] am a poor guy. I’ve got the most money [in the television fight business], so what’s the problem going to the richest guy to see if he will match an offer?

“Dan Goossen claims all this has to do with boxing reform. The only thing that is going to be reformed by Dan Goossen is [America Presents financial backer] Bill Daniels’ net worth.”

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For now, Trinidad sits on the sideline and so does Reid, Goossen’s star attraction.

One of Goossen’s other fighters, Coley, whose biggest previous purse had been $25,000, will make $1 million to fight De La Hoya in a match Goossen claimed was negotiated without his consent.

And Trinidad-De La Hoya II is no closer to reality.

“I have never been so baffled in my whole life,” Arum said, “as I am by what’s going on.”

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