Oscar De La Hoya, ending months of careful discussion and planning, has told his handlers to forget other options and arrange a fight in Los Angeles against Genaro Hernandez, the World Boxing Assn. junior-lightweight champion, for Hernandez's title.
Nothing has been signed, but the camps have begun serious talks to set the fight for Feb. 5--a day after De La Hoya's 21st birthday--on HBO from the Sports Arena. The purse for each fighter could be in excess of $1 million, with De La Hoya's possibly closer to $1.5 million.
"It's perfect," De La Hoya said. "It's the battle of L.A."
Said his co-manager, Steve Nelson: "Now we'll see if Hernandez really wants to fight Oscar."
Hernandez, 27, has said he very much wants to defend his title against De La Hoya, although he doubted it would happen.
"We have heard from them, but right now their offer is too small," said Nori Takatani, Hernandez's manager. "They want a quick answer, I think, so we may have to respond in a week or so."
De La Hoya's co-managers had been considering a fight for Jimmi Bredahl's World Boxing Organization junior-lightweight title, but decided the WBO wouldn't be appropriate for De La Hoya's first title fight.
His co-managers' attention turned to International Boxing Federation champion John Molina as a precursor to fighting Hernandez later in the year.
De La Hoya has always wanted to fight Hernandez, but, until recently, went along with the more cautious approach of his managers, Nelson and Bob Mittleman.
In the last few days, De La Hoya and his father, Joe, decided that a Hernandez fight would be the best way to make a splash and move into boxing's elite. Nelson and Mittleman agreed.
"I was going to fight (Hernandez) no matter what," De La Hoya said.
"There's no way I can lose."