De La Hoya plans May 3 tune-up before Mayweather matchup

Updated: January 19, 2008, 1:18 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Oscar De La Hoya doesn't plan to sit around and wait for a September rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Boxing's most popular attraction will fight a tune-up bout May 3 and plans to do it live on HBO -- not pay-per-view -- Richard Schaefer, CEO of De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, told ESPN.com Friday night.

Schaefer said De La Hoya told him Friday morning that he didn't want to wait until September for his next fight and told him to start planning for May 3, the date on which he had intended to face Mayweather in the rematch. Mayweather, however, insisted on a long break after a grueling 2007.

Schaefer said it will be the first bout of three this year De La Hoya plans to do with a third bout in December marking the farewell fight of his storied career. De La Hoya, 34, has said several times in recent months that he wanted 2008 to be his final year as an active fighter.

"Oscar will fight May 3 to get ready for Floyd, and then if everything goes well, he'll have the rematch with Floyd in September, and then something in December that will be a celebration of Oscar's career."

No opponent has been selected for the May fight, but names under discussion include three junior welterweights, all of whom would give up considerable size to De La Hoya in a bout that would likely take place at about 150 pounds: Steve Forbes, reigning titleholder Paulie Malignaggi and Dmitriy Salita.

Schaefer said the bout on May 3 would take place either at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., or at Mexico City's Estadio Azteca, one of the largest stadiums in the world. Schaefer is flying to Mexico to meet with stadium officials on Tuesday, he said.

When Julio Cesar Chavez defeated Greg Haugen on Feb. 20, 1993, at Estadio Azteca, the fight set the world record for largest paid attendance with a crowd of 132,274.

"Oscar wants to do it on free TV, not pay-per-view," Schaefer said. "He wants to give something back to the fans who have supported him for all of these years. He wants to make tickets affordable wherever the fight takes place. We want to have $10 and $20 tickets. If it's in Los Angeles, it will be like a homecoming. I think that's what we would call the fight, 'The Homecoming.'"

De La Hoya's last eight fights have been on HBO PPV. The last time he fought a non-PPV fight was on March 24, 2001, when he stopped Arturo Gatti in the fifth round on HBO.

Schaefer said he, De La Hoya (38-5, 30 KOs) and Golden Boy vice president and matchmaker Eric Gomez would go through opponents in the coming days.

"We'll be looking at names and see what kind of deal we can cut," Schaefer said. "But if the opponents think they are going to get the kind of money Oscar's opponents on pay-per-view get, they are mistaken."

Schaefer also said that De La Hoya was going to return to trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr., who would replace Freddie Roach. Mayweather Sr. sat out De La Hoya's box office record-breaking fight with his estranged son Floyd Jr., in a dispute over money.

Mayweather Sr. returning to De La Hoya's corner for a rematch with his son would certainly add fuel to the promotion and be a major story line of the bout.

"I think it's going to be Floyd Sr. based on what Oscar is telling me," Schaefer said.

Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's close friend and adviser, told ESPN.com that only a few details remained to be worked out on the rematch with De La Hoya.

"We'll get there," he said. "This obviously makes the most sense for us, so this the fight that we're going to do. We're very comfortable with the deal."

He said Mayweather, who took a split decision against De La Hoya when they met last May, was indifferent to De La Hoya taking a tune-up bout.

"That's fine," Ellerbe said. "Oscar can do whatever he wants to do. He can't beat Floyd anyway. It wouldn't matter if he took four tune-up fights."

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.

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