De La Hoya is given golden opportunity

Idle since '04, he fights Mayorga tomorrow



For the nearly 20 months since losing to Bernard Hopkins, Oscar De La Hoya has enjoyed the life of a man whose ring earnings have surpassed $100 million.

Teaming with Hopkins, the former eight-belt world champion has launched Golden Boy Promotions, enlisting names such as Marco Antonio Barrera and Shane Mosley into the stable of fighters he now promotes. And with his wife, Millie, a former Puerto Rican singer, De La Hoya has a 4-month-old son.

"Life has been awesome," De La Hoya told Jay Leno during a Monday interview on The Tonight Show, when he also shared that his son kept him up "for all but two hours" the night before, that changing dirty diapers can be a hassle, and that Millie's shedding of ringside tears at tense moments "can be a distraction."

Millie could be an emotional mess tomorrow night at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, where her husband fights for the first time since September 2004 in challenging World Boxing Council light middleweight (154 pounds) titlist Ricardo Mayorga (28-5-1, 23 knockouts).

De La Hoya (37-4, 28 KOs) hopes a victory injects more interest into the thriving middle divisions, possibly leading to a multimillion-dollar September payday against welterweight (147 pounds) champ Floyd Mayweather Jr., middleweight (160) contender Winky Wright or former world champ Felix Trinidad.

Trinidad handed De La Hoya his first loss in September 1999 in a pay-per-view bout that generated $64 million in revenue - a record for a non-heavyweight fight.

"You know, I didn't get beat up by Bernard Hopkins, even though I fought at [a career-high] 160, which is not my weight class. I had no business there. I feel at 154, I can close the book on many chapters I've written. I can end this story as a world champion on top of the sport," said De La Hoya, 33, adding that a September bout would mark his farewell from the ring.

"At this point in my career, I'm not lacking in any area," said De La Hoya, who will earn at least $8 million to Mayorga's approximately $2 million. "Ricardo Mayorga lit a fire in my belly. I'm in tremendous shape. "

Considered boxing's biggest attraction, De La Hoya will be all business against Mayorga, 32, a wild-swinging, chain-smoking, beer-swilling, obscenity-prone former street tough guy from Managua, Nicaragua. Mayorga has gone beyond even boxing's boundaries to offend De La Hoya by insulting his wife and his mother, Cecilia, who died of breast cancer shortly before her son's Olympic gold medal victory in Barcelona in 1992.

"It'll be a tough fight because he hits hard and can take a punch, but we've prepared to stay in front of him, fight smart, move our head a lot," De La Hoya said. "He's gotten under my skin, but hasn't gotten into my head. I've trained hard to teach him a lesson."

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