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De La Hoya Sizes Up Two Tough Opponents

He plans to fight Sturm in June and go against middleweight king Hopkins in the fall.

February 18, 2004|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

With his prospects for a meaningful fight at 154 pounds having evaporated, Oscar De La Hoya has decided to move up to 160 pounds, acclimate himself with a June 5 match against World Boxing Organization champion Felix Sturm of Germany and take on undisputed middleweight king Bernard Hopkins in the fall.

"Bernard Hopkins is very, very dangerous," De La Hoya said. "I'm not doing this for the money. I'm doing it for history. This guy [Hopkins] is strong, an animal. I know I'm in deep water."

De La Hoya has decided he will fight only once more after the Hopkins match. "I want a going-away party," he said.

Although no contracts have been signed, Sturm and Hopkins have agreed in principle to the plan, according to sources close to the negotiations. Sturm is scheduled to fight Kingsley Ikeke in Germany on March 6, but Sturm is trying to get out of that match.

Hopkins may fight his mandatory challenger, Robert Allen, on the June 5 card, which is expected to be held at a Las Vegas site or, possibly, Staples Center.

Since De La Hoya normally comes into training camp weighing around 159 pounds, he will find himself in the unique position of trying to gain rather than lose pounds.

"For this camp," he said, "it will be a case of let's see who can eat more."

De La Hoya had pursued fights with Shane Mosley and Felix Trinidad. But neither man was willing to accept a purse split that gave De La Hoya as much as two-thirds of the total, considering that both have beaten De La Hoya, Mosley twice.

So they turned to each other. If Mosley beats Winky Wright in their March 13 match for the undisputed 154-pound title, he is expected to face Trinidad, who is ending a two-year retirement, in the fall.

De La Hoya's other option was a rematch against Fernando Vargas, whom De La Hoya beat in 2002. But Vargas may have talked himself out of that fight by demanding a purse of $9 million.

De La Hoya insists he is no longer interested in fighting Mosley or Trinidad

"They can do their own thing," De La Hoya said. "If Mosley fights Trinidad, the winner can go fight Vargas. Let's see how exciting that is."

De La Hoya said he will remain with promoter Bob Arum, even though Arum's Top Rank boxing organization is the focus of an FBI probe, which resulted in a raid on Top Rank's offices last month.

"Bob always has been a part of my boxing life," De La Hoya said. "It's a good thing that I'm ending my career with him."

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