Oscar De La Hoya and his chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions helped lure boxer Manny Pacquiao into signing a multi-fight contract by delivering to him a suitcase stuffed with $250,000 in cash as a signing bonus at a Beverly Hills steakhouse in September, Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach said Wednesday.
"Manny told me he wanted a signing bonus, and I relayed that to Golden Boy," Roach said. "They negotiated a deal and they gave him the signing bonus, and some of it was in cash in a suitcase."
The cash transfer became public Wednesday when the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported details of Roach's deposition on Feb. 13 as part of civil lawsuits between Golden Boy and rival promoter Bob Arum's Top Rank Inc.
The rival firms are suing over Pacquiao's promotional rights.
Although there is nothing illegal about paying a contracted employee with properly accounted cash, Arum called the unusual Golden Boy-Pacquiao exchange "unprofessional and inappropriate."
"Come on, give me a break," Arum said. "What legitimate business person pays someone with 12,500 $20 bills in a suitcase?"
In November, Arum announced he had signed super-featherweight Pacquiao (43-3-2, 33 knockouts) to a multi-fight contract and the boxer is now scheduled to headline a Top Rank boxing card in San Antonio on April 14.
"I told Oscar that Manny likes cash, he likes to deal in cash, he pays people in cash," Roach said Wednesday in Hollywood, where he appeared to help De La Hoya promote his May 5 fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. "I didn't think there was anything wrong with it. Actually, Manny wanted more cash."
Roach said that Arum, too, relied on cash to later persuade Pacquiao to withdraw from the Golden Boy contract and sign with Top Rank.
"Arum gave Manny $1 million in cash right after Manny's [December] birthday," Roach said. "I don't know if it was wired to him, or given to him in person, but Manny told me when it happened, 'I got a million in cash.' "
Arum said that claim is "not true. I've never given Manny five cents in cash. We never pay in cash. Freddie's lying, he's absolutely lying. Manny got a $500,000 check from us, and another $500,000 check to pay back Golden Boy."
Roach, who in January signed for $1.3 million to prepare De La Hoya to fight Mayweather, said he doesn't believe the cash from Golden Boy was an illegal or under-the-table inducement.
As part of Golden Boy's lawsuit against Top Rank, it included a contract that said Pacquiao would be paid a $350,000 signing bonus and a $150,000 advance for his first purse with Golden Boy.
Richard Schaefer, the Golden Boy executive who met with Pacquiao at Morton's Steakhouse, would not admit to any cash exchange, but said the form of payment to Pacquiao was irrelevant. Pacquiao received at least one check as a bonus payment, Schaefer said.
"We would never engage in any illegal acts, and if there is anyone who is accusing us of illegal acts, we will go after them in court to the full extent of the law," Schaefer said. "What form of payment Manny Pacquiao received doesn't matter, as long as it's not an illegal action. And it wasn't."
De La Hoya declined to comment.