De La Hoya fighting with stitches in hand

Cut becomes sub-plot in Hopkins bout drama


September 19, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS — Late fight: Last night's middleweight title bout between Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins ended too late to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions or on the Internet at

LAS VEGAS - Oscar De La Hoya still was scheduled to fight Bernard Hopkins last night, despite an incident Wednesday night in which a trainer's scissors gouged a cut just above the palm of De La Hoya's oft-injured left hand following a workout.

The injury, initially reported by the Las Vegas Review Journal yesterday, was made known to Nevada Athletic Commission chairman Marc Ratner following Friday's weigh-in at the MGM Grand Arena because De La Hoya is taking pain killers that might appear in his post-fight urinalysis.

Winner of eight title belts in six weight classes, De La Hoya (37-3, 29 knockouts) was scheduled to put his World Boxing Organization crown on the line in an attempt to take the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation titles from Hopkins (44-2-1, 31 KOs), who was set to make his middleweight-record 19th defense.

Bob Arum, president of Top Rank Promotions, said Dr. Biff McCann, during a procedure Wednesday night at Summerlin Hospital just outside of Las Vegas, closed the wound with 11 stitches before "injecting Oscar with Lidocaine. Obviously, it's going to show up in the urine. We had to let the commission know beforehand."

Ratner said he expected De La Hoya, 31, to compete.

"I spoke to his hand doctor and he told me that they had given Oscar a pain solution a couple of days ago. [Daley] wanted to report that to us because we have to know about anything that's given to the fighters in case it shows up in the urine," Ratner said, referring to a physician who has monitored De La Hoya's oft-broken left wrist.

"I notified the chief of our medical advisory board and one of my commissioners [Friday night]. We'll find out what Oscar took, and we instructed [Arum] that Oscar should not take anything else. The bottom line, for me, is that based on what they're telling me and what I know so far, Oscar should be able to fight.

"If he did not take any further shots, the Lidocaine should have worn off by now," Ratner added. "If it shows up in the pre- or post-fight tests, it would be considered a banned substance, and the commission would act on it."

Ratner said the pre-fight test has been done, but has not yet been evaluated.

Fernando Vargas was found to have used a banned steroid after his knockout loss to De La Hoya in Las Vegas in September 2002. Vargas was suspended from competition by the Nevada Athletic Commission for nine months.

The injury occurred following a training session. While removing the wraps from De La Hoya's left hand with a pair of scissors, assistant trainer Joe Chavez accidentally cut into into the area between De La Hoya's middle and ring finger.

"We got word [from Top Rank vice president Todd DuBoef] that when Oscar finished training, they were cutting the bandages off and Joe Chavez cut Oscar's hand on the inside. Bruce Trampler, my matchmaker, was at the training session and said that he didn't think it was serious or would jeopardize the fight," Arum said.

"They took him to a plastic surgeon who has worked on Oscar before, stitching him up after fights. He's a good friend of Bruce Trampler and Oscar's comfortable with him. The doctor sewed him up real tight with 11 very small stitches, put ointment on it, and if you looked today, you'd hardly see anything.`

DuBoef said he visited De La Hoya following the procedure, at the hospital, which is within walking distance of DuBoef's home.

"I went by to make sure that everything was okay," DuBoef said. "The injury was V-shaped, just above the palm. Oscar said that he could close his hand and that he felt fine. The doctor explained to Oscar that the muscles that close the fist are in your forearm, not your hand. We left there feeling very optimistic, and Oscar was very cool, calm, relaxed and collected."

Arum said De La Hoya worked out lightly on Thursday with little effect.

"Is it a good thing? Obviously not, but we've been assured there's no real risk in the fight," said Richard Schaefer, chief executive officer of De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions.

De La Hoya has a history of problems with his left hand. First damaged in his eighth professional bout in 1993, the wrist remains a concern despite two operations for fractures.

De La Hoya reinjured the wrist on Aug. 15, 2003, less than a month before losing to Shane Mosley for the second time. While preparing for Hopkins, De La Hoya wore a brace on the wrist during sparring that is prohibited during fights.

"Every fighter that's ever been in the ring with Oscar knows that his big weapon is that left hook," said HBO commentator Jim Lampley, who has worked a number of De La Hoya's fights. "He's going to have to do something to keep Hopkins off of him, and he's never been a big hitter with the right hand."

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