De La Hoya and Arum Split Their Differences


Proving that money can heal all, even an ugly split that degenerated into petty name-calling, Oscar De La Hoya and Bob Arum have agreed in principle to a multifight deal that reunites the most financially successful fighter/promoter team in boxing history outside the heavyweight division.

Describing the tentative new arrangement as a groundbreaking deal that “will change the way promotions are done,” Arum said the contract awaits final approval by lawyers for both sides.

“Bob Arum has said he considers himself like a father to me, and I’ve always thought we had a nice relationship,” said De La Hoya, trying to put a happy face on an association that reached a low point after last year’s breakup when De La Hoya referred to Arum as a “Jew” in a derogatory fashion and Arum refused to return the fighter’s Olympic gold medal, a birthday gift to the promoter.


But all of that seemed forgotten in the euphoria of a deal that could earn tens of millions for both men.

And Arum wasn’t about to wait for the final signatures. He was already sounding like De La Hoya’s promoter Thursday when he and the World Boxing Council 154-pound champion issued an ultimatum to World Boxing Assn. 154-pound titleholder Fernando Vargas: Accept our offer of a $5-million guarantee, with a $1-million winner-take-all bonus, for a May 4 title showdown by mid-December or forget it.

De La Hoya would get $14 million, along with the chance for the bonus.

Gary Shaw, Vargas’ promoter, has already turned down the offer, saying he considers it merely a starting point for negotiations.

And if Vargas’ side maintains that stance?

“I’ll go fight Roman Karmazin,” De La Hoya said, “and make $8 million.”

Only if he must, in the highly unlikely event Vargas continues to turn his back on the richest fight available to him. It was a proposed De La Hoya match against Karmazin, the WBC’s No. 1 contender, that proved to be the final, ill-advised promotion of Jerry Perenchio, whose yearlong association with De La Hoya ended by mutual agreement earlier this month. Perenchio had put the Karmazin fight in the small, faded Olympic Auditorium and priced the seats from $900 down to $150.

Many argued that spelled financial disaster, but that argument became moot when De La Hoya injured his hand in training camp, the subsequent surgery causing the fight to be canceled.

So Perenchio exited after having staged two De La Hoya fights--against minor opponents Arturo Gatti and Javier Castillejo--after De La Hoya predicted Perenchio would outdo the job by Arum, whose promotional efforts earned De La Hoya more than $125 million in the ring and millions more in endorsements.


No wonder there was a lot of head-scratching when De La Hoya challenged his contract with Arum in court last year.

After a judge ruled that contract void, Arum appealed. As part of his new agreement with De La Hoya, Arum will no longer seek damages.

De La Hoya has dropped his request that Arum return the gold medal.

“He will give it to me, as we originally agreed, when I retire,” De La Hoya said.

Thursday was like old times with De La Hoya and Arum back on the same side, directing their oral jabs at an opposing fighter.

“Fernando Vargas has to realize,” Arum said, “that, with me back on the scene, it’s back to reality. I have been absent a year and a half and, in that time, Oscar’s opponents got two and three times market value. Castillejo got $3 million when he should have gotten $1 million and Gatti got $2 million when he should have gotten $1 million.

“There is no negotiating for Vargas. I wholeheartedly endorse what Richard Schaefer [De La Hoya’s business advisor] and Oscar have offered. If anything, they have been overly generous. This is absurd.... Did I miss something? Did Vargas beat [Felix] Trinidad or did he get knocked out?”

Arum knows full well Vargas was knocked out by Trinidad, but De La Hoya also lost to Trinidad, on a majority decision.


“We will evaluate things and look at the totality of the situation,” said Rolando Arellano, Vargas’ manager. “Fernando Vargas is in the prime of his career. Whatever we might lose by not fighting De La Hoya, we can make up with two other fights.”