A BUSY BOXING WEEKEND — A storm of fight cards takes place from the West Coast to the East Coast beginning on Friday. One contender Diego De La Hoya is making his first appearance on New York turf.
Can the younger cousin of promoter Oscar De La Hoya deliver?
Since first stepping in the prize ring De La Hoya, a pint-sized super bantamweight with sizzling speed and uncommon power, has bewildered the opposition despite lofty expectations that come with the legendary last name.
It’s enough pressure to bust the barriers that separate his native Mexicali from the American side, Calexico.
The undefeated De La Hoya (16-0, 9 KOs) travels to Verona, New York where he faces fellow Mexican Roberto Pucheta (10-9-1, 6 KOs) in an eight round preliminary at Turning Stone Resort and Casino. The fight will not be televised but you never know what can happen.
He’s been itching to fight and with reason. First he was set to fight at Fantasy Springs Casino which is a five minute drive from his training gym in Indio. Under Joel Diaz he was primed and ready. Then, he was switched to the Miguel Cotto fight card against James Kirkland. That was scratched. Now he’s in a supporting role for the middleweight clash between David Lemieux and Curtis Stevens.
Meanwhile the weeks of inactivity were racing by like a runaway conveyor belt of chocolate candy.
“He was scheduled for the Cotto versus Kirkland fight as the opener on the pay-per-view against Yoandris Salinas, but the fight card got cancelled,” said Joel De La Hoya who manages his younger cousin. “I wanted Diego back as soon as possible since he hadn’t fought since September against Luis Del Valle.”
Other offers came but it was decided to take this New York fight opportunity.
“I do whatever my promoter wants me to do,” said Diego De La Hoya sporting a new bleached blond shaggy look.
Despite the changes he has a gym full of sparring partners consisting of top talent. He also has a wide swath of more than 100 gyms located in Southern California that allows him preparation for any style of fighter. Recently, he sparred with former WBA world super bantamweight champion Rico Ramos who also has a fight this weekend.
Joel De La Hoya said shaking out the rust is a primary concern.
“This is supposed to be a stay busy fight, but never underestimate the opponent,” says Joel De La Hoya, the older brother of Oscar De La Hoya. “And if all goes well we are back in May.”
Both manager and fighter are aware of his current ranking and of the future possibilities.
“He’s only 22 so plenty of opportunities are in his future,” said Joel De La Hoya, adding that they are not in a race.
Talent drips from the former Mexican amateur star since he first stepped into a pro boxing ring. But the journey has been deliberate and steady.
His trainer Joel Diaz fully believes he’s a future world champion.
“He’s one of those fighters with God-given talent,” said Diaz. “The harder the fight the better he fights.”
Inside the gym the lightning quick De La Hoya laughs a lot and breezes through his workouts. Whenever he unleashes combinations it surprises in the speed in which he can deliver. The eye can’t seem to adjust to it.
“I want to be ranked higher so that one day I can fight for the world title,” said Diego De La Hoya.
New York finally gets a glimpse at De La Hoya 2.0.
Former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux (36-3, 32 KOs) meets Curtis Stevens (29-5, 21 KOs) in a battle of hard-hitting middleweights. Both fought and lost to Gennady Golovkin but even he doesn’t know who will win this clash. One thing he would say is they “both hit hard.”
Lemieux wants another crack at a middleweight world title. Stevens wants another crack at one too.
“A lot of talk has been done, now it’s time to do it with the hands,” said Stevens who relishes a toe-to-toe battle and wasn’t afraid to bait Lemieux.
“There’s nothing I won’t do to win the fight,” promises Lemieux.
America’s two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields headlines a fight card in Detroit on Friday March 10. More than that, she will be the first female fighter to be featured as the main event on a Showtime televised bout. Shields (1-0) faces Hungary’s Szilvia Szabados (15-8) in a middleweight clash for the vacant NABF title. Don’t miss this sure fire female fight. The American Olympian has speed and power and is not shy about using it to squash opponents. Throughout her amateur career she was revved up to annihilate everyone in her way. She never settled for winning by points. Her opponent, Szabados, fought for the world title so she will not be a punching bag. At least not on paper.
On the same Friday night, in downtown Los Angeles, a Golden Boy Promotions card features a number of their locally based prospects including Chimpa Gonzalez, Alexis Rocha and Angel Bojado. Also, Floridian super middleweight prospect Niko Valdes will be showcased. It will be shown on Estrella TV and streamed on RingTV.Live
Rocha, a welterweight, is the younger brother of featherweight contender Ronny Rios. He can crack.
Also expected on the card is Bojado, the younger brother of Panchito Bojado. So far he’s fought once and been canceled numerous times. Will this super welterweight fight take place?
Saturday night in Las Vegas the aforementioned Rico Ramos (26-5, 13 KOs) chases his third consecutive victory against the very tough Erik Ruiz (16-5-1) who fights out of Oxnard, California.
Ramos, 29, lives and trains out of San Bernardino now. He’s looked solid in his last two fights. This featherweight clash will be a tough one. Ruiz has a great chin, solid skills and is mentally tough too. But his main problem is he can be out-hustled. Ramos has speed, skill and power but needs to outwork Ruiz to get a victory.
Ramos needs a victory over Ruiz at the Downtown Las Vegas Event Center on Saturday to maintain relevance in the crowded featherweight division. CBS Sports Network will televise.
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