Manny Pacquiao with boxing promoter Bob Arum in file photo]

MANILA, JANUARY 22, 2009 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson and Abac Cordero - Despite the threat of Ricky Hatton calling a press conference in London to cancel their fight, Manny Pacquiao said yesterday he’s not accepting a 52-48 compromise split with a $12 million guarantee “as a matter of principle.”

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, desperately trying to save the May 2 bout in Las Vegas, offered Pacquiao the compromise after finally agreeing to come down from a supposedly non-negotiable 50-50 split.

But Pacquiao’s lawyer Franklin (Jeng) Gacal and adviser Michael Koncz told Arum the new offer wasn’t acceptable. Instead, they advised Arum of another compromise – a 52-48 split with a $13 million guarantee. The other option is for a 55-45 split with a $12 million guarantee.

“It’s not a matter of money,” said a source close to Pacquiao. “This is a matter of principle. We want to establish a position where Manny is respected on the negotiating table.”

Arum spoke to Gacal and Koncz in a long distance call from Las Vegas yesterday morning and gave a deadline of 6 last night to come to terms. He said the 52-48 split with a $12 million guarantee was his final offer.

The seasoned promoter said the fight is “cancelled out and finished” but still hoping for the best.

“He’s got to sign,” said Arum..

“The ball is in their hands,” he added, referring to Pacquiao and the people close to him amid a prolonged debate over the purse split for the fight.

“The Hatton camp is planning a press conference tomorrow to announce that they’re pulling out of the fight. Manny has until 6 p.m. (last night) to decide,” said Arum.

From a 50-50 split previously agreed upon by the promoters, Top Rank for Pacquiao and Golden Boy for Hatton, the ante has been raised to 52-48 in favor of the Filipino icon.

“It’s really up to him. I don’t understand. It’s total craziness. He asked me to raise his guaranteed purse and I raised it. But he hasn’t signed,” Arum told The STAR.

Arum admitted that he hasn’t talked to Pacquiao over the last two weeks. Not even trainer Freddie Roach has gotten a hold of his boxer despite persistent calls.

“It’s been very, very difficult. And I’m really sorry for the Hatton people for having to put them through this,” Arum said.

Arum said if Pacquiao refuses the bid, Hatton will call a press conference in London the next day to announce the fight is off.

“The threat of pulling the plug isn’t new,” said a Pacquiao insider who declined to be identified. “That’s the same line they used when the negotiations for the (Oscar) de la Hoya fight were going on. In the end, there was a compromise settlement and everybody was satisfied. We want a situation where everybody gets a fair share. We only want what is due Manny as the man who brings in the money.”

Arum has been informed of Pacquiao’s position, which will not likely budge. If the parties come to terms, Pacquiao will leave Manila for Los Angeles on Friday. He is scheduled to be at ringside for the Antonio Margarito-Sugar Shane Mosley bout at the Staples Center on Saturday. Then, Pacquiao will leave for London on Monday to meet the press. He is booked to stay in London for two days.

“If the terms are in order, Manny will leave as planned but if they aren’t, he’ll stay in Manila,” said the insider. “Everything depends on how the negotiations will work out.”

The difference in dollars isn’t much. Pacquiao’s group is asking for just $1 million more in guaranteed money on a 52-48 split, a compromise from its previous position of a 55-45 split with a $12 million guarantee.

Arum has brokered a compromise with the Hatton camp, represented by Golden Boy Promotions, increasing Pacquiao’s share from 50-50 to 52-48. The guaranteed money will make or break the deal.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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