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Original Issue

Still Golden

Oscar De La Hoya regained his Midas touch--and the super welterweight title--by battering Ricardo Mayorga. Will he crown his career against Floyd Mayweather Jr.?

Oscar De La Hoyadidn't want to be remembered as the guy pounding the canvas with his glovesafter Bernard Hopkins buried one of his own in the Golden Boy's liver almosttwo years ago. But De La Hoya might not be satisfied with the picture of himfinishing off Ricardo Mayorga last Saturday either, spectacular as it was. Nosooner had Mayorga sunk to the canvas under as brutal a barrage as can bedelivered this side of mortality than the drumbeat began for De La Hoya's moreappropriate final fight, against pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.

De La Hoya insistsit won't happen. He is trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr., Pretty Boy'ssemi-estranged father. Floyd Sr. has said he would never devise the destructionof his own flesh and blood. "If I fight again," De La Hoya said,"I'd have Floyd Sr. in my corner."

But De La Hoya hasnever had much willpower when it comes to glory's siren call, and that sirenwill only get louder following last week's bout. There are other fights hecould take, but the idea of De La Hoya back at the top of his game, in theultimate fight to end his career, may prove too attractive to be derailed byniceties. "He's fighting for his legacy," said Floyd Jr. on Saturday."Two living legends in the same ring? He'll fight me."

If a fight couldbe made between the 29-year-old, four-time champion Mayweather and the33-year-old, six-time champion De La Hoya, there'd be plenty to promote. De LaHoya, who's been a boxing dilettante in recent years--devoting more time tobusiness than fighting--showed a stunning dedication to his sport last week inLas Vegas after a 20-month layoff.

His opponent waspicked as much for his lack of skill as his ability to provoke. De La Hoyaadmitted he needed Mayorga's big mouth to get him back into fighting fury."He really got my blood boiling," he said.

Mayorga's lungingstyle played into the result, but it was his misguided machismo that set thetone for the fight. While his camp thought he would stay on his toes andoutclass Mayorga, De La Hoya opted for a slugging match. "If I take hisheart from the get-go," De La Hoya explained, "he has nothing."

Mayorga gotdropped by De La Hoya in the first round and was finally undone when De La Hoyaunleashed an 18-punch fusillade in the sixth round of their 154-pound fight forMayorga's WBC title.

Whatever De LaHoya decides to do next--he has reserved a Sept. 16 date with HBO pay-per-viewand the MGM Grand in Las Vegas--it will be the most anticipated career move inrecent boxing history. In any case, it's getting harder and harder to visualizehim at Hopkins's feet. In most people's minds, he's standing pretty tallagain.

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HIT SHOW- De La Hoya's 18-punch barrage in the sixth round finishedMayorga.