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BOXING / TIM KAWAKAMI

Steward May Be Key to Rematch

May 24, 1997|TIM KAWAKAMI

To the shock of nobody who was paying attention--or who knows Oscar De La Hoya's desire to make history--De La Hoya's promoter, Bob Arum, reversed field this week and said he will work to put together a rematch against Pernell Whitaker for early in 1998.

Though the money terms are far from finalized, Arum pointed to the recent hiring of Emanuel Steward as De La Hoya's trainer as a key reason he now sees a rematch to be financially viable--after saying the first Whitaker bout was a "stinky, stinky fight."

De La Hoya won the April 12 fight in a controversial unanimous decision (disputed loudest by the powerful Eastern boxing establishment), and his awkward attack against Whitaker's slippery left-handed style caused the dumping of trainer Jesus Rivero.

"[With Steward], Oscar's going to take the fight to Pernell," Arum said.

Meanwhile, De La Hoya is training with Steward in Big Bear for his June 14 bout against journeyman David Kamau in San Antonio. After that comes a scheduled September date against veteran Hector Camacho.

Where Rivero concentrated on firming up De La Hoya's defensive technique--which was displayed well against Whitaker--Steward is focusing on unleashing De La Hoya's power game.

"We're spending a lot more time with offense now, particularly his left hook," Steward said. "We've been talking about great left hooks."

Steward also trains World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, who has his own gym in Big Bear and is preparing for a July 12 title defense in Lake Tahoe, Nev., against Henry Akinwande.

But De La Hoya, who has switched trainers twice already in his 4 1/2-year career, is the fighter with whom Steward says he has the longest commitment.

"When I got involved with Oscar, I told him if I got involved, I was intending to stay with him the rest of his career," Steward said. "He has become the No. 1 fighter in my life."

Boxing Notes

Rafael Ruelas is off a David Reid-led card tonight in Colorado after injuring a knuckle on his right hand.

Calendar

Friday: Ancee Gedeon vs. Tomas Cordova, bantamweights; Horatio Garcia vs. Enrique Sanchez, welterweights; Irvine Marriott, 7:30 p.m.

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