De La Hoya Braces For Mayorga, Ring Return

By Francis Walker
Updated: May 4, 2006

NEW YORK — Ricardo Mayorga’s defense of the WBC super welterweight championship against “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV will undoubtedly be the biggest fight of his career. Fighters like Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley, and Felix Trinidad were not mentioned as Hall of Fame fighters until they defeated De La Hoya.

This title defense against De La Hoya (37-4, 29 KOs), a former world champion at five different weight classes (135, 140, 147, 154, and 160), the biggest non-heavyweight pay per view draw in boxing history, and a successful boxing promoter, is much more than another title defense for Mayorga (28-5-1, 23 KOs). The champion is fighting to be recognized as a great fighter with a defiant place in boxing history.

Mayorga, promoted by Don King and managed by King’s son Carl, is everything that a boxer shouldn’t be. Mayorga, 32, Managua, Nicaragua, smokes, drinks alcohol, and uses excessive profanity.

Mayorga is loud and proud to say whatever comes to mind; even if it means making derogatory statements on De La Hoya’s heritage and his wife.

At a multi-city press tour to announce the two would meet, Mayorga insulted De La Hoya’s a family and the fact that they were Mexican. Mayorga even smacked De La Hoya upside his head at one point.

Perhaps Mayorga is trying to upset De La Hoya to the point he wants to engage in a slugfest. Perhaps Mayorga knows that he cannot beat De La Hoya in a boxing match, but can beat him in brawl.

Mayorga shocked everyone when he handed Vernon Forrest his first professional loss in January 2003. Mayorga KO’d Vernon Forrest in the third round to capture the WBC welterweight championship at 147 pounds. Mayorga had previously destroyed Andrew Lewis to win the WBA welterweight championship in 2002.

In the biggest fight of Mayorga’s career in December 2003, he was docked two points for holding and hitting against IBF champion Cory Spinks. The deductions proved to be costly, as Spinks unified the world welterweight championships. Mayorga was never hurt and would have retained his titles on a majority draw if he wasn’t docked any points.

Mayorga himself is trying to regain some respect, especially since he was KO’d in eight rounds by Trinidad when they fought in October 2005. Mayorga won the vacant WBC 154-pound title in August 2005 and has not fought since. Mayorga maybe aggressive, strong, and can fight but has not knocked out an opponent in more than three years.

De La Hoya is indeed the “Golden Boy.” He won an Olympic gold medal in 1992 is a successful amateur. De La Hoya has fought every world champion throughout his career in many highly anticipated fights.

De La Hoya was a defense-first, jab-counterpunch fighter who at one point was recognized as one of the fastest fighters in boxing outside of Roy Jones, Jr. and Shane Mosley. De La Hoya was very difficult to hit and had a devastating left hook which became his signature punch.

The key word is “was” as De La Hoya, now 33, Montebello, CA, has not fought in more than 20 months. De La Hoya has not fought since September 2004. De La Hoya has not taken a meaningful punch in nearly two years.

The last punch De La Hoya received was a crisp body shot from then middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins which left him paralyzed on the mat. De La Hoya was KO’d for the first time in his career.

Why is De La Hoya retuning? He wants to retire as a world champion and hopes to rebuild his wounded in-ring image.

In the last five years, De La Hoya has only one defiant victory – a KO of Fernando Vargas in a junior middleweight championship unification fight. But De La Hoya suffered a controversial loss in a rematch to Shane Mosley before winning a controversial decision against Felix Sturm.

There are many questions facing De La Hoya as he enters his fight with Mayorga.

Is De La Hoya nearly as fast as he was when he fought Felix Trinidad and Shane Mosley? Can De La Hoya avoid punches the way he fought Pernell Whitaker? What will happen when De La Hoya gets hit by a Mayorga bomb?

Does De La Hoya have the speed and defensive skills to dodge, block and weave punches? Can De La Hoya still see punches coming? Can De La Hoya box like the “Golden Boy” he was at the height of his career.

De La Hoya has been away from boxing too long and has invested much of his time with Golden Boy Promotions in which he has Hopkins, Mosley, and Marco Antonio Barrera as business partners in boxing fighter promotion. There is no telling how much De La Hoya has left.