WITH MUCH of boxingmoribund and title bouts unfolding in half-filled arenas, one boy is stillgolden. The already much-anticipated May 5 fight between junior middleweightsOscar De La Hoya (38--4, 30 KOs) and Floyd Mayweather Jr. (37--0, 24 KOs)guarantees De La Hoya $12 million. (Mayweather is assured of $8 million.) Thepayday, which will rise significantly after factoring in an expected twomillion pay-per-views at $54.95 each, traces to a Nevada-record $19 million inticket sales; Las Vegas's MGM Grand sold out in three hours. De La Hoya is nowtraining in Puerto Rico, where he lives with his wife, Millie, and theirone-year-old son, Oscar Gabriel. At stake, besides a WBC title, is the claim tobeing the best pound-for-pound fighter alive.
On fighting such adangerous opponent
I took this fight to make history. A fight like this comes along every 15 to 20years. It's like Sugar Ray Leonard against Roberto Duran or Marvin Hagleragainst Tommy Hearns. Many times the best fighters don't want to fight eachother, but we're creating a spectacle. I'm going to leave everything in thering.
On leaving FloydMayweather Sr., his trainer for six years, to go to veteran trainer FreddieRoach
It was such a difficult decision. Floyd Mayweather Sr. is a great trainer,probably the best I've had. But it would have made me uncomfortable knowingthat Floyd was training me to beat up his son. It absolutely would have been aconflict for him—it's his blood. [Floyd Sr. is now serving as an adviser to hisson.] If there's one night I have to be perfect, it's May 5.
On the Golden Boynickname
One of my uncles gave it to me in Barcelona [at the 1992 Olympics] after I wonthe gold medal. I had a nickname before that: the Hooker. No [laughs], notbecause of what it sounds like but because I used to knock guys out with myleft hook. [Such as the one he's landing on Ricardo Mayorga, oppositepage.]
On his company,Golden Boy Promotions, which handles fighters and events—including this one
Boxing is at its lowest point right now. Attracting corporate America and thenetworks is how it can become a mainstream sport again. That's my vision, and Iwanted to make fighters part of it. Fighters have a stake in my company. Wehave legends like Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins [both company execs] lookingout for the boxers' best interests—we've been there, done that; we've laced upthe gloves.
I picked it up because of my brother [Joel, 37]. He used to be a fighter—and Istarted boxing because of him too. One day he told me to come to the range.After hitting 100 balls, I still kept shanking them. But I loved the challengeof it. I got hooked. I'm a seven handicap now. I've played with [2003 Masterschamp] Mike Weir, who's a lefty like me. [Though De La Hoya fightsrighthanded.] I played with David Duval when he was Number 1 in the world.
On the parallelsbetween golf and boxing
The concentration, the focus, they're the same. They say in golf you shouldgrip the club lightly and not overswing. That's like boxing: If you look forthe knockout, you won't get the knockout.
On his singingcareer, for which he was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2000
[Laughs] I do it in the shower now, that's about it. My mother used to be aprofessional singer, and I thought it would be interesting to cut an album. Idid it for the memories. Hitting that high note is more difficult than throwinga knockout punch.
On how long he'llkeep boxing
After this fight I am going to seriously consider retirement. It depends howthis fight goes. Personally, I think I'm going to win in a late-roundknockout.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY
ERIC JAMISON/AP (DE LA HOYA FIGHTING)