Los Angeles Daily News - March 3, 2004
Oscar De La Hoya's incredible appeal and Bernard Hopkins' extraordinary mouth should have fans drooling by the time their scheduled Sept. 18 world
middleweight title fight arrives.
The superstars first must win their respective June 5 fights at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. But chances of De La Hoya losing to Felix Sturm or Hopkins
to Robert Allen are, respectively, slim and none.
All four boxers were in attendance Tuesday at a downtown news conference. Hopkins, to no one's surprise, stole the show with his humor and bravado.
"This is another opportunity to show the world that Bernard Hopkins has continued to get younger and not older," said Hopkins, 39. The world
middleweight champion from Philadelphia has made a record 17 title defenses.
"We are big. September is big. You all wish you could skip past these months and go right there, don't you? ... We like to wear throwback jerseys.
Well, I'm a throwback fighter and I'm going to emulate everything you've seen from Sugar Ray Robinson to Marvelous Marvin Hagler."
If De La Hoya (36-3, 29 KOs) and Hopkins both win June 5, their fight also would be at the MGM Grand. De La Hoya, who is moving up in weight, is
looking to make history by winning world championships in six weight classes.
Sturm is the WBO middleweight champion, but Hopkins (43-2-1, one NC, 31 KOs) is considered the world middleweight champion because he holds the WBA,
WBC and IBF belts, all of which are more prestigious than the WBO.
"Let me tell you, this middleweight division, it's scary," said De La Hoya, 31, of East Los Angeles, who Tuesday signed the contract for the two-fight
deal; Hopkins signed last week. "But you know what? I love it. I love it because it's a new challenge."
There are many experts who believe De La Hoya is simply in too deep against Hopkins.
"There are a lot of people who do want to see me get beat up," De La Hoya said. "But I'm going to go out there and work hard, because these last
fights of my career are going to be the defining moments of my life."
According to Hopkins, his fight with De La Hoya will be a defining moment for a maligned sport.
"This is what boxing needs," he said. "We're taking boxing out of ICU. Boxing is in critical condition."