Injury Could Hamper De La Hoya's Final Plan

Times Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS — Oscar De La Hoya has targeted Sept. 16 as the date for a possible farewell fight, but medical problems could make it difficult for him to return to the ring that soon.

De La Hoya, already suffering from an injury to his left shoulder, tore a muscle in his left forearm Saturday night in a victory over Ricardo Mayorga at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

De La Hoya is optimistic that he will be sufficiently healed to go ahead with his planned schedule.

"I'll be fine," he said.

The shoulder problem, a slight tear of the rotator cuff according to De La Hoya, is an old injury that flared up in recent weeks.

"It got to the point where after so many rounds of sparring I would feel a burning back there," he said.

But De La Hoya wouldn't cancel Saturday night's fight and, indeed, neither injury was evident in his performance. His left hook was never better and he was as aggressive as ever. In the sixth round, before the fight was stopped at the 1-minute, 25-second mark, De La Hoya connected on 29 punches against the dazed and helpless Mayorga.

"I will not have surgery on my rotator cuff," De La Hoya said. "I will try to let it heal on its own along with medication."

Assuming that treatment proves successful, what next?

De La Hoya had said his rationale for coming back was to erase the image of him on the canvas at the end of his losing effort against Bernard Hopkins 20 months ago. That De La Hoya did, with one of his more spirited, most impressive efforts.

So does he really need another fight? Does he want to risk the possibility of again going out a loser?

While Mayorga unquestionably has power, he is not an accomplished boxer. He was picked because of his defense-be-darned approach, making him an ideal target for De La Hoya, assuming De La Hoya had not lost his touch, which he obviously hasn't.

If De La Hoya wants to finish up, as he says he does, with a momentous victory against a quality opponent, it would mean big money, but also a great risk.

Three opponents are under consideration: Floyd Mayweather Jr., Winky Wright and Ricky Hatton. Felix Trinidad appears to be off the table because of the weight disparity.

In Mayweather, there is a bigger problem: His father, Floyd Sr., is De La Hoya's trainer. Father and son have been feuding on and off for years, but Floyd Sr. said the connection is still there.

"What kind of daddy would I be," he said, "if I worked to get my son knocked out? I don't give a darn what my son wants. If I got anything to do with it, and I've got a lot to do with it, it is not going to happen."

De La Hoya said he would not change trainers, but would discuss the matter with Floyd Sr., if that's the direction he chose to take.


A replay of the fight between De La Hoya and Mayorga, shown on pay-per-view Saturday night, will be televised on HBO on Saturday at 6:45 p.m.

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