De La Hoya Scopes Out Opponents For 2008

By Matthew Hurley: In the weeks leading up to the Ricky Hatton – Floyd Mayweather welterweight title bout promoter Oscar De La Hoya used the vast media attention the bout was garnering to drop hints as to who he would fight in 2008. De La Hoya confirmed, in the aftermath of his split decision loss to Mayweather in May, that he would fight two more times and was looking for a suitable dance partner to set up a mega-fight in either Dodger Stadium or Yankee Stadium..

The first name that came up had people shaking their heads in disbelief. At first it seemed to be nothing more than an Internet rumor but then it became apparent that because of the amount of money involved and the idea of a catch-weight that the promoter in De La Hoya was seriously considering it. Yet trainer Freddie Roach dissuaded notions of a fight between his charge Manny Pacquiao and the ‘Golden Boy’ as unreasonable.

“I don’t believe Oscar can go to 147 pounds,” Roach said on the Philippine radio show ‘Sports Chat’. In private Roach had certainly wondered how this match-up was ever even considered feasible, but in the world of boxing nothing comes as much of a surprise any more and the soft-spoken trainer kept his comments circumspect. Still Manny hasn’t even fought at 135 pounds yet so the whole idea was a ludicrous proposal to begin with.

But Oscar represents a huge pay day for any top fighter willing to play the ‘B’ side to his ‘A’ side which is why, despite being nothing more than a part time fighter these days, everyone from junior welterweight to junior middleweight is being considered as a possible opponent. And the word ‘considered’ is of paramount importance. De La Hoya wants to go out as a winner so it would be astonishing if he called out Miguel Cotto or lesser names, but no less daunting challengers, Kermit Cintron, Paul Williams, Vernon Forrest or Antonio Margarito.

Case in point, after the rumors of a Pacquiao match were brushed aside, De La Hoya again used his visibility during the Hatton – Mayweather pre-fight press conferences to suggest a bout with the challenger for the bout he was promoting, Ricky Hatton. Oscar went on record predicting a Hatton decision victory and also intimated that a bout between the two in the spring was being seriously discussed and would possibly wind up in England’s Wembly Stadium. In the event that Hatton lost the bout still seemed feasible because of the popularity of both fighters and, again, the ridiculous amount of money that would be involved.

But Mayweather threw a monkey wrench into the equation by dissecting and then concussing Hatton in the tenth round. The bout sustained Mayweather’s standing as boxing’s top rated fighter and also proved that Hatton is simply not a welterweight. Still, at the post fight press conference De La Hoya, in a rather odd commentary on Hatton’s viability as a future opponent after such a decisive defeat, felt assured that the bout was still doable.

“It’s still a viable fight,” he said to the media who were waiting for Hatton and Mayweather to take their turns at the microphone. “With my style and his whirlwind style it would be exciting.”

Perhaps sensing that no one was buying his latest spiel, Oscar switched gears and began to heap praise upon the head that still wears the crown, Floyd Mayweather.

“There is no doubt now that Floyd Mayweather is the pound-for-pound champion,” he said not once but several time and would continue to reiterate to reporters after the press conference. It was as if the promotional wheels were spinning in his mind and he knew that this was the perfect opportunity to plant the seeds for a possible rematch with Mayweather.

Why not? The first fight, though a fistic disappointment, was a financial and commercial juggernaut that became the highest grossing bout in boxing history. On top of that Oscar knows that Floyd is not a murderous puncher and he knows that he fought closely with the ‘Pretty Boy’ until he ran out of gas down the stretch. He’s also aware that because of Floyd’s ego and lust for money Mayweather would undoubtedly be up for a second go around. Floyd admitted as much at the post-fight press conference during yet another alleged ‘retirement’ speech when he looked over his should and said, “But if Golden Boy Promotions can put that money on the table I might not have a choice.”

The fact remains that although De La Hoya is still the Golden Goose in boxing, despite a record of three losses in his last five fights, his choices for a suitable opponent in his next bout are quite limited and it seems more than reasonable that he will he settle upon a second go round with Mayweather. He certainly can’t fight Ricardo Mayorga again!

“He’s at the point in his career now where he only wants to prove that he can still compete at a certain level,” Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Eric Gomez told reporter Robert Morales. “Oscar almost had Mayweather, man. It was a close fight. (If) one round could have been scored for Oscar it would have been the other way around. We’re not trying to take away from Mayweather. Ok, yeah, he beat him, that’s fine. But it was a close fight.”

It’s all speculation at the moment but it’s hard to envision De La Hoya taking on a rabid young body-punching machine like Miguel Cotto when a bigger bundle of money could be added to his pile if he got Mayweather to agree to a return bout. What isn’t speculation is that regardless of what you think of him, or whether or not you believe he even deserves to be in the position to still command the center stage in the boxing universe, Oscar De La Hoya remains a promoter’s dream and, lo and behold, the fighter is now a promoter and a very successful one to boot. His fan base still far outnumbers nearly any other fighter you can name so 2008 will bring yet another De La Hoya event and he will pick and choose who he wants to join him in the ring. There’s a very good chance he will choose ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather. If that turns out to be the case, hopefully the second fight will be more exciting than the first.

Article posted on 14.12.2007

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