Oscar de la Hoya’s Split Decision on the Future

BY Phil Woolever ON June 20, 2006
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Oscar de la Hoya made a conference call Wednesday, to give the word on whether he’d retire from boxing after his recent victory over Ricardo Mayorga, or have one more go with the gloves in a gala farewell fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The word, as it was, turned out to be maybe.

“I feel retirement should be a fighter’s final decision,” said de la Hoya. “That’s the reason I’m not making a final decision today. I just don’t know. When I retire it’s gonna be definite. Obviously today, however, it’s not that day. I don’t think I’ll be fighting this year. The ideal date would be May of next year. After endless hours of reflection I realized more and more I put myself under tremendous pressure. September is too close to make such an important decision.”

Those hoping to see de la Hoya call it a day on the high note after Mayorga may still get their wish. So too might fans that feel a mega-finale against current pound-for-pound king Mayweather would be the perfect icing on Oscar’s well-layered career cake.

The only real news was that de la Hoya’s involvement with professional boxing on the previously mentioned appearance date of September 16th in Las Vegas will be as the promoter of Marco Antonio Barerra’s rematch against Rocky Juarez.

For Mayweather, who had already indicated he would pursue other options, the message was something like hurry up and wait.

“There is no plan B actually,” mused de la Hoya. “Absolutely, when I decide to have my next fight it will be Mayweather. That’s the only name that will satisfy me. Mayweather’s team is very smart. They know there’s a big payday out there for them. They’ll do the right thing.”

De la Hoya didn’t sound like he was trying to be coy with his vague projection.

“At this point I’m leaning at not retiring,” continued de la Hoya. “This is what I love. That’s a big reason I turned promoter, to stay around boxing. The sport keeps me alive. I’m a competitor; I have the blood in me where I have to win.

“Deciding right now was too much for me, it was overwhelming. That’s why I decided to postpone any decision. I’m 37 and I feel my body still has some gas in the tank. I promised myself two more fights (including Mayorga).”

De la Hoya said that indeed, he had sailed off with his family and crew to a favorite island retreat with plans to flip the coin of destiny in his mind. The imaginary coin landed sideways.

“After my boat trip I thought I’d come up with a decision but I said to myself this is just too much pressure,” said de la Hoya. “I couldn’t enjoy my victory over Mayorga. Every time I woke up in the morning I found more hairs on my pillow from the stress. Deciding kept going back and forth, more than thirty times.”

De la Hoya said his laundry list of bodily ailments didn’t play a part in erasing his next pencilled in appointment.

“I’ve had injuries throughout most of my career,” he said. “Every fighter has. I won’t make the decision because of injuries. As an athlete you have to dig down deep inside. I [still] have a swollen finger that hasn’t healed from my last camp. If I did retire, it would probably be because I couldn’t train, can’t hit the bag, the physical stuff.

“I’ve been known to take a long period of time off between fights. One advantage will be that I can rest my body. At this stage I need that time off. It makes me stronger. I’m still running every day and hitting the weights.”

De la Hoya said stalled contract talks with Mayweather had nothing to do with his uncertain fistic future.

“I understand there were some rumors about problems, but I don’t think negotiations got that far,” said de la Hoya. “There’s enough money to go around. I’m not a greedy person. I’m nobody’s steppingstone, that’s for sure. I realize Mayweather can beat me, but I also realize I can beat him.”

De la Hoya also understands the luster of being the Golden Boy.

“I always want to do the right thing,” said de la Hoya the role model. “I take into consideration great fighters who came back, just to lose and taint their career. Retirement is a trap. I don’t know who’s setting it, but I’m gonna be smarter than that. 99% of fighters make that mistake. I’m such an example to a lot of fighters, I don’t want to make that mistake.”

From the sound of things, Oscar cleared his head a bit. At least for now, the schedule includes further peace of mind.

“I feel satisfied,” he said, adding a clue. “At one point, many years ago, I was on top of that [pound-for-pound] list for a slight moment. I guess the only thing that drives me would be beating Mayweather.”

The world of boxing, which seemed to be holding a collective breath for the announcement, can spin again, no less clouded. There will be plenty of speculation at every turn.

“I’ll make a decision, probably by year’s end,” de la Hoya concluded. “I want to be able to be around my house or go on vacation without having to think about it. I think I have the right to call my own shots. In my life, things have always happened for a reason. I don’t know why, but I believe someone is watching out for me at time like this.”

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