When Diego De La Hoya’s name is mentioned, most knowledgable boxing people agree the youngster is talented. That’s no surprise; as a cousin of 10-time world champion Oscar De La Hoya, he certainly has the bloodlines. Not only that, but the exciting kid from Mexicali, Baja California, has speed, power and stamina to go with a pedigree that can open any door in boxing.
After nearly two years as a pro, the 21-year-old De La Hoya (11-0, 7 KOs) faces a stiff test against veteran Jesus Ruiz (34-6-5, 23 KOs) on Friday, at the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The scheduled 10-rounder, with the WBC Youth championship on the line, will be televised on Estrella TV.
Title bouts are nothing new for Ruiz, from Nogales, Mexico, who battled current WBA featherweight champ Leo Santa Cruz earlier this year. In that fight he surprised those who felt he would be blown out by the lean assassin. Instead, he absorbed blow after blow and returned fire like a mechanical tennis ball feeder. Eventually he lost, but Ruiz served notice that he’s no easy mark, for anyone. He’s now a seasoned pro with nine years of experience.
Golden Boy Promotions has faith in the younger De La Hoya. It’s not blind faith either, but based on progress reports from his American team of coaches in Coachella, Calif.
“I guarantee Diego will become a world champion,” said Joel Diaz, who trained Diego, among many others. “We’re just working on a few things.”
A year ago, Diaz predicted that Diego would be ready in 2015 for some kind of title shot. Well, here we are. It’s not do-or-die, but a setback here could force his support team to take a more patient approach. A victory means next-level competition.
“This is definitely no pushover,” said Joel De La Hoya, who managed his cousin. “We selected Jesus Ruiz because we believe his style matches up well with Diego. He will definitely push him.”
From the beginning, when Diego De La Hoya made his pro debut against Puerto Rico’s Luis Cosme at the MGM Grand Ballroom in Las Vegas, he wowed onlookers with his electric-like talent. After breezing to several victories, the opposition improved and Team De La Hoya took steps to improve Diego’s defense. The firepower remains, but now the blueprint is for him to set his man up and to counter smartly. Defense must be the priority before Diego can think about challenging elite fighters.
“We think this is a good test for Diego,” said Joel.
A few tickets remain for Friday night’s card. For more information, call (213) 489-5631. Doors open at 5 p.m.