MANILA SEPTEMBER 27, 2006 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - This million-dollar question was raised yesterday after Oscar dela Hoya confirmed that he had indeed signed the sensational Filipino boxer to a seven-fight promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotions.

"Yes, we have signed Manny Pacquiao," Dela Hoya, the Golden Boy, told Dan Rafael two days after the seasoned boxing writer for broke news about the secret deal between Golden Boy and Pacquiao.

The confirmation meant that Pacquiao had slammed the door on Top Rank Promotions, which is owned by Arum. Top Rank tried to lure Pacquiao into its fold.

Until Golden Boy struck a deal with Pacquiao.

Arum said the contract between Golden Boy and Pacquiao is a direct violation of his own agreement with the Filipino boxer who is scheduled to face Erik Morales in Nov. 18 in Las Vegas.

Morales is under Arum and Top Rank Promotions.

Arum, the promoter of the coming fight, and the two previous battles between the two super featherweights, said the fight contract states that Pacquiao is "forbidden from signing with any promoter before the bout."

But does the clause cover a promoter who wishes to promote Pacquiaoís future fights, and not just the one slated this November at the Thomas and Mack Center?

Arum said it does.

"I have a specific provision against it. It says you canít sign until after this fight with any other promoter. Itís specific and says it clearly," the highly influential Top Rank boss told

"Golden Boy has tortuously interfered with our contract. Under the specific language of the contract, they had to wait until after the fight was over to sign," Arum said.

The legendary promoter is seriously thinking of going to court.

"Iím not going to let it slide. What we do is up to the attorneys. I donít like my contracts to be violated. Mannyís lawyer (Jeng Gacal) went through my contract with a fine-toothed comb. I negotiated with him and specifically this paragraph," said Arum.

Just the thought of Arum dragging Pacquiao to court may provide distractions seven weeks to his third match with Morales.

The contract, which includes a $300,000 signing bonus, was signed during a late dinner between Dela Hoya and Pacquiao in Los Angeles last Monday, barely hours after the latter flew in from Manila.

Rafael wrote that Dela Hoya and Pacquiao talked for three hours at a Mortonís Steakhouse in LA before Pacquiao put his much-sought-after signature on the dotted line.

They left the restaurant at 1:30 a.m. wearing smiles on their faces.

"Manny wants to finish his career with us," Dela Hoya reportedly said. "It puts a smile on my face because he trusts us. He is putting his career in our hands. It says a lot about our company."

The seven-fight contract includes a rematch with WBC champion Marco Antonio Barrera early next year, and another one with Juan Manuel Marquez later on. Pacquiao knocked out Barrera in 2003 and drew with Marquez in 2004.

"It was basically us out-thinking the competition," he added. "I had a goal and that goal was to sign Manny Pacquiao. We strategized and we figured it out and we were willing to do whatever it took to sign him."

It was understandable for Pacquiao to have kept the signing "a secret until after the fight with Morales" because it might upset Arum.

"It was Mannyís request to keep it a secret until after the fight, but we talked about it yesterday," Dela Hoya told

"I told him we canít keep secrets from the media or the boxing world. He understood and I assured him that everything would be OK in the Morales fight because he was concerned about Bob Arum or the judges or the referee being against him. I told him everything would be OK, donít worry about it.

"I told him we might as well tackle this situation right now while itís so early in his training camp. We get it over with and then you can just focus on the fight," Dela Hoya added.

Since he started fighting in the US in 2001, Pacquiao has hooked up with three promoters, the first one, with Murad Muhammad, the second with Gary Shaw, and now with the Golden Boy.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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