De La Hoya Wants No Excuses


Three days before Friday night’s World Boxing Council welterweight title fight at the Thomas & Mack Center, Oscar De La Hoya already had his game face on.

But Barry Markman managed to break through, temporarily wiping the scowl off De La Hoya’s face Wednesday, if only for an instant.

All it took was the news that Julio Cesar Chavez has an unmarked face.

“All the cuts are healed,” said Markham, a physician who examined Chavez. “The scars are imperceptible. His skin looks great.”

In other words, at this point, there are no ready-made excuses on the horizon for Chavez, who was stopped by De La Hoya in the fourth round of their first meeting back in 1996 because of a cut above the left eye.


“If his skin is fine, that makes me happy,” De La Hoya said. “I can’t wait.”

Now if Chavez can only keep his kids off his lap.

At first, Chavez claimed that he had the cut when he entered the ring for his first meeting with De La Hoya, that one of his sons had banged his head against Chavez’s forehead while sitting on his father’s lap.

It was later revealed that Chavez had been cut by the laces of one of the gloves of a sparring opponent two weeks before the fight.

Believing the cut had healed sufficiently for him to fight, Chavez had makeup put over the gash and wore a hat pulled down low whenever he was in public to conceal the problem.

Chavez has leaned on that excuse for two years, refusing to acknowledge that the clearly superior De La Hoya had in fact beaten him.

“He has excuses about this and excuses about that,” said Robert Alcazar, De La Hoya’s trainer. “If Oscar beats Julio Cesar Chavez by a knockout, there will be no more excuses.”

De La Hoya, whose boyhood hero was Chavez, has run out of patience with the Mexican legend.

“He’s been like a crybaby lately,” De La Hoya said, “crying about everything.”

But Chavez is actually laughing. By sticking to his story about how fate robbed him, he has earned a $6-million payday, plus a percentage of the pay-per-view money.


At 36, Chavez may no longer have the talent to give De La Hoya a fight, but conditioning shouldn’t be an excuse if he loses. Chavez, who has often found reasons to avoid the gym, has dropped below the 147-pound limit to 145. That’s unheard of for him and he may come back up a few pounds by today’s weigh-in.


The odds on Friday night’s fight opened at 11-1, but have dropped to 9-1 with sentimental Chavez bets pouring in. In Tijuana, the odds are down to 8-1 and probably will drop.


The fight is already a sellout at the Thomas & Mack Center, which seats about 18,500. There has been enough additional demand for the fight to set up closed-circuit viewing sites around Las Vegas.

Promoter Bob Arum is predicting that the fight will break the pay-per-view record for a non-heavyweight bout, set last year when the De La Hoya-Pernell Whitaker match was seen in about 750,000 homes.


Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson arrived Wednesday for his hearing Saturday before the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Tyson will be requesting the return of his license, which was revoked last year after he bit heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield on both ears in their title fight.


Fight Night

What: World Boxing Council welterweight title fight Friday at Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas.

Who: Champion Oscar De La Hoya (28-0, 23 knockouts) vs. challenger Julio Cesar Chavez (101-2-2, 84 knockouts).

Also: International Boxing Federation junior middleweight champion Yory Boy Campas (71-2, 61 knockouts) vs. challenger Larry Barnes (44-2, 17 knockouts); and International Boxing Assn. super lightweight champion Antonio Diaz (22-2, 17 knockouts) vs. challenger Hector Quiroz (25-2-1, 21 knockouts).

TV: ESPN at 5 p.m. for two fights; rest of card on pay-per-view beginning at 6 p.m.