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Mayweather, Pacquiao Settling Defamation Case

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AFP PHOTO / Chris Cozzone / Robyn BECK

AFP PHOTO / Chris Cozzone / Robyn BECK

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have agreed to settle a federal defamation case in Las Vegas, according to a lawyer involved in the case, a move that avoids trial and clears a key hurdle to a long-awaited bout between two top fighters who’ve traded verbal jabs for years but have never met in the ring.

Terms of the deal are confidential, Malcolm LaVergne, a lawyer representing Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s father in the case, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

LaVergne said the various parties to the case have signed documents to be filed under seal asking U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks to dismiss the case. He said others involved in the case were preparing a public statement.

“The matter has been resolved,” LaVergne said. “Any alleged terms of the resolution would be strictly confidential. Floyd Mayweather Sr. is very happy that this lengthy case has finally come to a conclusion.”

The judge last week ordered Floyd Mayweather Jr. to pay about $114,000 in legal fees and court costs for avoiding questioning under oath from Pacquiao’s lawyers in the case.

Attorneys for Pacquiao earlier lost a bid to end the lawsuit with a more severe sanction — a default judgment for Pacquiao.

LaVergne said Tuesday he had no information about whether the court settlement means Mayweather and Pacquiao will meet in the ring.

Mayweather’s promoter, Leonard Ellerbe, and attorneys for the two fighters didn’t immediately respond to messages from AP.

Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc., declined comment. His spokesman, Lee Samuels, said the company was not involved in the defamation case.

Pacquiao, 33, a member of Congress in the Philippines, filed the lawsuit in December 2009 in Las Vegas. He sought unspecified damages based on allegations that Mayweather defamed him by suggesting he used performance-enhancing substances. Pacquiao denied Mayweather’s claim.

Pacquiao is 54-4 with two draws in 60 fights. He is due to fight Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand Garden arena in Las Vegas.

Mayweather, 35, who goes by the nickname “Money,” was serving two months of a three-month sentence in a Las Vegas jail on a domestic battery conviction when he was named by Forbes magazine this summer as the highest-paid athlete in the world for 2011. He is undefeated in 43 fights and was guaranteed $32 million for a May 5 bout where he defeated Miguel Cotto.

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