He had a great plan. He was going to fight three times this year and end his career with a bang. He was going to fight a tune up bout in the spring to get him ready for his rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., who beat him in 2007. It was the biggest money fight of all time, and though the second fight more than likely wouldn’t have done the same business, it would’ve been the biggest fight of this year. And then, in December, he was set to end his career with one more fight, possibly in his home town.
Part one of the plan went to fruition. De La Hoya beat Steve Forbes in May to set up his fight with Mayweather. But Mayweather Jr. decided to retire instead of take the fight.
(According to Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer there were early talks for both De La Hoya and Mayweather Jr. to be involved in this year’s Wrestlemania to help sell their fight for later this year. Obviously, De La Hoya wasn’t involved in Wrestlemaina, but Mayweather Jr. was.)
With no September bout, De La Hoya had to find a new opponent for his last big fight. Early opponents talked about included Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. The smaller Hatton declined and then Cotto lost to Antonio Margarito. De La Hoya has talked about not wanting to fight any Mexican fighters, so Margarito was out. But also, Margarito is the kind of relentless puncher that De La Hoya probably doesn’t want to have to deal with at this time. Maybe more importantly though is the fact that De La Hoya probably wants to maximize the amount of money that he could make in his last big fight. While Margarito is a true champion, he’s not a house hold name, and thus, might not be the best business partner for De La Hoya.
It finally seemed that the De La Hoya camp had found an opponent. The word was that they were set on fighting Manny Pacquiao, who would have had to make a huge jump in weight to take the fight. It would probably do the best business of those fights left on the table, but according to the LA Times, the talks broke down because Pacquiao wanted better than the 70/30 split that De La Hoya was offering.
And now? It looks like Contender champion Sergio Mora is in the mix. ESPN’s Dan Rafael reported earlier today that if Mora beats Vernon Forrest in a rematch of their fight earlier this year, he’s the fight for De La Hoya. If it does happen, it proves that De La Hoya’s wish to not fight Mexicans is probably more excuse than anything else because the last time I looked, “The Latin Snake” is Mexican.
Even though it might be the least interesting fight of them all, there might be some decent casual interest. Though the original Contender television show didn’t do great broadcast ratings, it still had a larger audience for a boxing product than anything since. Mora was front and center on the show and might be a good sized casual draw. Put him with De La Hoya and there could be a fairly large non-hardcore boxing audience, which is what you need in order to do big numbers. I imagine the die hards who don’t like either fighter would stay away, but in the boxing game, you make the big money drawing from a larger audience than just your hardcore base.
Now what happens if Mora loses to Forrest? Forrest? Winky Wright? Sugar Shane again? Someone talks sense into Mayweather Jr.? Who knows?