De La Hoya Is Prepared for Some Practice Rounds

Times Staff Writer

Floyd Mayweather Sr.'s silence says it all.

The reigning poet laureate of boxing, Mayweather was asked if he had a poem for the Oscar De La Hoya-Luis “Yory Boy” Campas World Boxing Council super welterweight title fight tonight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

“This fight,” said Mayweather, De La Hoya’s trainer, “is not even worth a poem.”

Promoter Bob Arum conceded as much when he made the event’s centerpiece a potion from centuries past, which, according to myth, gave Mexican irregular troops the strength to drive out French invaders in 1862. That same potion supposedly now courses through the veins of Campas, turning him from a stiff into stiff opposition.


Mandalay Bay conceded this fight was wanting by putting up posters all over the hotel showing only De La Hoya and WBC featherweight champion Erik Morales, who will defend his title tonight against Fernando Velardez in the semi-main event. It is as if De La Hoya and Morales are solo acts, performing on the Vegas strip like Celine Dion or Wayne Newton.

HBO officials conceded when they rejected Campas as an opponent for Shane Mosley because Campas wasn’t deemed worthy of the match.

Oddsmakers have made Campas a 25-1 underdog.

And even De La Hoya says Campas is less a contender than a hyped sparring partner, a steppingstone toward his Sept. 13 showdown with Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Ask fighters about an upcoming match and nearly all of them will say they are focused only on the man immediately in front of them.

Not De La Hoya. Not this time.

“I’m preparing myself for Shane Mosley,” De La Hoya admitted. “This will be a tough fight only if I make it a tough fight. I’m training for Shane Mosley.”

Campas’ liabilities include a lack of speed and mobility, especially in comparison to De La Hoya, who will look as if he is in another gear tonight. Campas has an on-rushing style -- which should offer target practice for De La Hoya’s skin-slicing jabs -- and a history of giving up against opponents such as Fernando Vargas and Oba Carr.


Campas, a native Mexican from Navojoa, is 31, only a year older than De La Hoya, but he looks considerably older. Perhaps it’s because of his many ring battles.

Campas began fighting at age 11 after being subjected to the fists of an older brother. At first, the younger Campas would chase him away by throwing rocks.

But soon, Campas realized punches would be more effective. So he learned to box in the same gym where his brother trained. He became a skilled amateur, winning 46 of 47 fights.

By then, Luis Campas had become Yory Boy because he was the only student in his Navojoa classes who was not an Indian. Thus Yory, which means “light-skinned.”


Campas also proved to be thick-skinned, absorbing a lot of blows over the years. Campas turned professional in 1987, five years before De La Hoya won his gold medal in the Barcelona Olympics, and has fought 85 times since. That’s an average of five fights a year, or nearly one every other month for 17 years.

Campas’ record is 80-5 with 68 knockouts and one major championship, the International Boxing Federation junior middleweight title. Campas won it from Raul Marquez with an eighth-round TKO in 1997, and defended it three times before being knocked out by Fernando Vargas in 1998.

Campas describes his style as, “Nothing fancy, just fighting.”

But that doesn’t figure to be enough against De La Hoya (35-2, 28), who admits he doesn’t want this fight to end quickly, that he is in there to get the work and get sharp for Mosley. Had De La Hoya not taken this match, there would have been a lapse of a year between his last fight, a rousing TKO triumph over Vargas, and the upcoming Mosley rematch.


“This fight is kind of like a breather for me,” he said. “I was not even going to fight in May, but it keeps me in shape. So I said, ‘Let’s take a so-called tuneup fight.’ ”

That’s all it is. And even the commotion caused by the potion can’t change that.