April 25, 2003

Oscar de la Hoya’s Night Of Champions

By Fiona Manning

He says it will be a “Night Of Champions” but when he steps into the ring at Mandalay Bay Evenets Center in Las Vegas on May 3rd, world super welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya (35-2-0, KOs 28) will face Yory Boy Campas (80-5-0, KOs 68) in what most would label a mismatch of almost epic proportions.

Campas, clearly not a top, A-list fighter in his prime anymore, is the latest in big-name, dubious opponents to be trotted out by boxing’s elite this year. Already we have seen Marco Antonio Barrera pummel a hapless Kevin Kelley, Sugar Shane Mosley stopped Raul Marquez on cuts - and the list continues.

According to de la Hoya, Campas is a ‘warm up fight’ for his upcoming re-match with Shane Mosley.

While de la Hoya may view the fight with Campas that way, he’s cautious not to take him too lightly. “Sometimes it’s very difficult to be motivated for a fighter like Campas,” de la Hoya admitted this week.

“It’s known to happen in boxing. A lot of fighters who have been beaten in the past took their fight too lightly. Sometimes I don’t feel good in training or I don’t want to run because I think it’s going to be an easy fight. But, I won’t make the same mistake that Vernon Forrest or Tim Austin made.

Oscar De La Hoya. File Photo

“I’m taking this as a championship fight. It’s dangerous when a world class fighter doesn’t take a fight seriously. I can assure you I will be 100% when I face Yory Boy Campas.”

Campas, is tough but his former trainer Abel Sanchez who worked with the fighter in San Diego in the same stable as Terry Norris for two years told La Prensa San Diego that “Yory Boy was probably my most talented fighter but the laziest guy I ever worked with. He never, but never wanted to train.”

While de la Hoya has been hosting the media in his Big Bear mountain top home, Campas, holed up in Tijuana, managed to get a few thorns under de la Hoya’s skin by staging some well-publicised stunts, such as drinking an ancient Indian magic potion given to him by a Shaman. He said was traditionally given to warriors going into battle.

De la Hoya instantly retaliated with demands to have the potion clinically tested. This little ploy may have backfired for Campas who has since had to agree to undergo drug testing in the state of Nevada after the fight.

It’s not unreasonable for de la Hoya to be nervous. Consider the fact his last opponent Fernando Vargas tested dirty for Steroids in his last fight.

Assuring Team de la Hoya that the potion is not illegal, Campas has offered to give some to De La Hoya.

“If it made him stronger, I wouldn’t mind having some,” de la Hoya said, but really, he is more irritated and concerned, than amused.

“It worries me because fighters are trying to do anything to beat me. You saw it with Vargas, and now Yory Boy took something to make him stronger. It’s my life up in the ring, and I don’t want any fighter to have an advantage. He needs to take a test before or after the fight. I’m going to be on top of this and make sure that happens. It just worries me because with the Vargas fight, I’m at a point where I don’t trust anybody. I just want to make sure everything is correct.”

“What worries me,” said de la Hoya’s promoter, Bob Arum, “is the undisputable fact that in 1862, 300 Indians with wooden spears and machetes took on the crack army of 2000 French troops. They killed over 1000 troops and routed the rest of them. They were given a potion – apparently the same potion that the shaman gave Yory Boy. That’s a fact. What that all means, I don’t know.”

To sip or not to sip? Potion or no potion, most people feel that de la Hoya’s speed and Campas’ lack of lateral movement spell trouble for Campas.

“That’s why it’s going to be an interesting fight – he’s going to be there for me to work on whatever I have to work on – combinations, power punches and my right hand,” said de la Hoya. “It’s going to be tough to knock him out because he’s got a strong chin, so it will be interesting to see how I take him apart. But you never know in boxing. If I exchange with him, he has the power to knock me out or to drop me.

“The opponent that trains for me is not the same guy that you’ve seen before. When they sign the contract they elevate themselves to a different level. Not just physically, but mentally. It’s the opportunity of their lifetime,” he said.

“People always talk about Hopkins, Trinidad and Mosley, but, what people don’t realize is that Campas won’t be as easy as people think. I can assure you that Yory Boy will be in the best shape of his life and it will be an entertaining fight, weather it last three rounds or twelve.”

De la Hoya talked of Campas’ strong chin, yet of his five loses, all five were by stoppage. The fact that fighters such as Santos, Carr, Lopez, Vargas and Trinidad have all stopped Campas adds some pressure to De La Hoya.

“It’ll look really bad on my resume if it goes to a decision. My goal will be, not just to stop him or make him quit, but to knock him out. He’s been stopped before, but I don’t believe he has ever really been knocked out.”

With his 31st birthday less than one year away, the Golden Boy’s claim that he would not fight past thirty raises the question: Who is on his list for those precious remaining months?

“Trinidad would be a fight that I would love to have. Obviously, if I can’t have it I won’t lose sleep over it - but he is a guy that put a blemish on my record and I’d love to get revenge.

“I’ve got the patience to wait for him just a bit more, but if he’s serious about retirement, then I give him all the credit in the world. We did talk in Miami face to face. I told him, ‘look in my eyes and tell me if you are retired or not.’ He said ‘yes, and I’m not coming back for nothing.’ Somebody in Spanish yelled out, ‘what if they gave you twenty-five million’ and he said, ‘oh….maybe.’ So there is still hope.”

Interestingly, he said he will not to fight his trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr’s son, Floyd Mayweather Jr. “I have so much respect for his father, I wouldn’t fight his kid. I think he’s a great fighter and I wish him all the best, but it won’t happen.

“We’ll have to wait until after the Mosley fight to decide who or what is next,” de La Hoya said. “After getting revenge on Mosley, if Trinidad doesn’t come back then who knows? My deadline is February 4th of next year.”

On Wednesday morning, Campas crossed crossed the Mexican border into San Diego where local fight fans watched him train lightly at the ABC Gym on Imperial Avenue.

Campas (not leaving well enough alone) said that he intends to take more of the controversial potion prepared for him by the shaman after the weigh-in on May 2.

He also said he would be willing to share some potion with Oscar and would agree to a prefight urinalysis prior to the fight if Oscar does also.

Promoter Bob Arum, on hand at the workout, sampled some of Campas’ controversial potion. Arum looked impressed when told that the potion is said to increase mental focus and physical energy.

“It has a very sweet taste,” he said. When asked if he is feeling any effects, Arum, 71, responded “it takes time to work...call my wife tomorrow.”

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