LAS VEGAS – After the most lucrative boxing career in history, the $300 million dollar question for Oscar De La Hoya is what happens if he loses?
“If I lose, I will retire,” said De La Hoya (37-4).
Hanging above De La Hoya’s head like a dangling sword, Nicaragua’s Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga (28-5-1) harbors the power in both hands to end the Golden Boy’s spangled career today with a single punch. The fight takes place at the MGM Grand and will also be shown on HBO pay-per-view.
WBC junior middleweight titleholder Mayorga, the seemingly crazy beer guzzling street fighter from Managua, threatened to walk away from the fight because of money matters. But he’s seen the golden light.
“I have decided to fight,” said Mayorga, who attempted to demand more money or fly back to his country. “I'm a man and I will defend my World Boxing Council super welterweight title against Oscar De La Hoya on Saturday night.”
Success for De La Hoya began in 1992 when he captured the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Barcelona. Despite a few trip ups, the East Los Angeles raised boxer emerged on the pro scene and amassed a boxing fortune that surpasses any other boxer’s including Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali. According to Fortune Magazine he’s one of the richest athletes in the world.
“I still have that fire in my belly,” said De La Hoya, looking at Mayorga fire insult after insult. “He motivates me.”
De La Hoya’s first big moment came in Las Vegas in 1995 against Rafael Ruelas in a clash between two lightweight titleholders. A single left hook turned the East LA fighter into the Golden Boy. His career zoomed off the charts with victories over Julio Cesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker, and Ike Quartey. Even his defeats, like his losses to Felix Trinidad and Shane Mosley, generated more interest
His fight against Trinidad in 1999 set the pay-per-view record for a non-heavyweight fight of 1.4 million buys.
Despite a Hollywood tint of glamour, De La Hoya rose from the poverty-drenched streets of East Los Angeles where lives are taken suddenly for the slightest stare. Gangs dominate the area and gunfire is as common as children’s laughter.
“I’ve dealt with bullies all my life,” said De La Hoya referring to Mayorga. “He’s a bully. He thinks that will intimidate me. Fighters don’t get intimidated.”
Mayorga, a self-proclaimed former gang leader, grew up in the streets of Managua when the Sandinista revolt led to bodies on the streets and self-survival depended on how badly you wanted it.
“I’ve always loved to fight. Guys like De La Hoya are nothing to me,” Mayorga said.
The head-nodding Mayorga does have an innate sense of theatrics and showmanship, whether it’s berating an opponent or scandalously gesticulating to certain body parts.
“Oscar is a homosexual,” Mayorga claims loudly. “He’s never fought a man like me.”
In his career Mayorga has defeated Vernon Forrest twice, Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis once, and Michele Piccarillo for the current title he holds.
“I’m the real world champion,” he claims.
De La Hoya promises a win or he quits.
If he loses?
“My career is over,” says De La Hoya.
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