Oscar De La Hoya will fight a tune-up match on May 3 before his expected rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. The match, against an opponent to be named later, will take place at either Mexico City's Estadio Azteca or the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
The fight, which will be part of a career countdown, will likely air on HBO instead of pay-per-view, to help drum up interest in the proposed Sept. 13 rematch with Mayweather.
"I want to set a trend where the big-name fighters will fight on free television," De La Hoya said. "Why not go back to the roots? Go back to fighting on free television. I think the fans deserve it. I hope other fighters can do this."
According to Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, De La Hoya has discussed developing a show about going back to his roots, and on Friday morning he told Schaefer he wanted his next fight to feature such a theme.
De La Hoya made his name on HBO after winning a gold medal in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. De La Hoya said he wanted to give access to people who normally can't see boxing's top stars either live or on television.
"It's basically a thank-you fight for the fans," De La Hoya said.
De La Hoya also said he wants to make the final year of his career his biggest, building toward a September bout with Mayweather, who most experts agree holds the mythical title that De La Hoya covets – best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
Schaefer has already talked with the Home Depot Center, which can hold 45,000 fans for boxing. Schaefer will fly to Mexico City for a Tuesday meeting with the owners of Estadio Azteca, which holds 130,000. If filled, it is believed it would set an all-time attendance record for pro boxing.
Schaefer said if the match is held in Mexico City, tickets would cost as little as a few dollars, with bottom ticket prices of $10 to $20 if it is held in Southern California.
The field has been narrowed to three opponents, whom Schaefer declined to name. De La Hoya is expected to make a decision over the weekend and they hope to finalize the deal within a week.
If all goes as planned after the September fight against Mayweather, De La Hoya's career would end with a huge boxing weekend promotion, tentatively scheduled for December. Possibilities include bringing back his famous opponents from the past, as well as showcasing young talent, possibly including pro debuts of the Summer Olympics' top stars.
Adding intrigue to the Mayweather fight, which may be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, is that Floyd Mayweather Sr. has agreed to train De La Hoya for all three fights this year.
The two were together for six years, but Mayweather Sr. backed out of training De La Hoya for last year's record-breaking fight because it was against his son. Mayweather Jr., 39-0 and the top-ranked fighter in the Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound Top 10, beat De La Hoya via split decision on May 5. The event destroyed all pay-per-view records with 2.4 million buys.
Mayweather Jr. followed by beating Ricky Hatton via 10th round knockout on December 8. The success of the two fights led to it being the biggest year ever for boxing on pay-per-view.
"Floyd Sr. said he would train me for Floyd Mayweather Jr.," De La Hoya said. "That's excellent news for me. I'm very confident with Floyd Sr. in my corner. He knows Floyd Jr. better than anyone. He's the one who created him. With Floyd Sr. in my corner, my chances of winning are great."
Their first fight captured public interest unlike any in years, particularly from an HBO countdown documentary which turned Mayweather Jr. into a household name. The first fight lacked fireworks, and the bigger De La Hoya ultimately couldn't match the speed, reflexes or stamina of the man widely considered the most talented in boxing today. De La Hoya would need a new approach both to have a shot at beating Mayweather, but also to convince the public that the second fighter would be different from the first.
"Mayweather is the big fish in the sea," De La Hoya said. "He's the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. I'm all about fighting the best fighter in the world and that's the fight I have to win.
He feels the added time plus a tune-up fight, plus Mayweather Sr. in his corner will be a difference-maker.
"If I stay active and in the gym and stay sharp, nobody can beat me," he said. "Fighting once a year wasn't the best thing for me."
De La Hoya said the third fight would "absolutely" be the final one of his career. "I can't turn back the clock," he said.
- Oscar De La Hoya