LAS VEGAS — Even as Oscar De La Hoya makes his last preparations for tonight's undercard fight against Carl Griffith, his long-awaited matchup against Rafael Ruelas--potentially the biggest bout involving Los Angeles-area fighters in decades--is moving swiftly toward realization.
Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters, says the De La Hoya-Ruelas grudge match is "as set as anything can be in boxing," and is scheduled for May 6 in conjunction with the Cinco de Mayo weekend at the MGM Grand here.
And Arum has begun negotiations with the Forum, which represents World Boxing Assn. junior-lightweight champion Genaro Hernandez, to try to add another L.A. spotlight fight to the bill: a unification bout between World Boxing Council junior-lightweight champion Gabriel Ruelas and Hernandez.
De La Hoya (14-0, 13 knockouts) first must defeat Griffith (28-3-2, 12 KOs), who has had drug problems recently, then Johnny Avila in December at the Grand Olympic Auditorium, then possibly either Azumah Nelson or John-John Molina on HBO in February.
Rafael Ruelas, the International Boxing Federation lightweight champion, has a title defense scheduled Jan. 28 at the MGM, and his brother also is set to defend on that card.
Former heavyweight champion Michael Moorer, who announced his retirement Wednesday night on a Detroit radio station, said Thursday that he was in a bad mood at the time and didn't mean it. "I was the first southpaw to win it and I'll be the first southpaw to get it back," said Moorer, 27, who lost the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Assn. titles to George Foreman two weeks ago. "I will not retire."