With a successful Feb. 26 fight under his belt, former
welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya is now being groomed for a potentially lucrative
June pay-per-view event.
De La Hoya -- who stopped welterweight contender Derrell
Coley in his Feb. 26 Home Box Office bout -- will most likely fight either against current
welterweight champion Felix Trinidad or former lightweight champion "Sugar"
Shane Mosely, several PPV executives said. Either fight could generate the highest
PPV-boxing buys of the year.
The fight the industry would like to see, however, is a De
La Hoya-Trinidad rematch. The two fighters generated more than 1 million buys for their
uninspiring bout in September, and industry observers believe this event could match or
surpass that amount.
The fight -- which would take place June 10, according to
sources -- hinged on Trinidad emerging victorious over super welterweight champion David
Reid after press time last Friday (March 3).
If Trinidad won, Top Rank Inc. president Bob Arum, De La
Hoya's promoter, said a deal in principle was already in place, with a few details
remaining to be finalized.
One sticking point would be the weight class at which the
fighters would meet. Trinidad has said he would not move back to the 147-pound
welterweight division, while De La Hoya is reluctant to move up to 154. A compromise
weight of 150 to 152 was being negotiated, sources said.
If Trinidad loses or an agreement cannot be finalized, Arum
said, he is working on a June 10 De La Hoya-Mosely welterweight fight. Mosely is one of
the more exciting and charismatic fighters in the game, so executives believe that matchup
would generate significant PPV buys.
Cable operators would welcome either fight. Thus far, the
boxing category has yet to yield a major event. The Trinidad-Reid fight is the biggest
event so far, although TVKO has scheduled an April 29 bout between heavyweight champion
Lennox Lewis and contender Michael Grant.
By this time last year, the industry had already generated
about $57 million from a Mike Tyson-Frans Botha bout and a De La Hoya-Ike Quartey event.
"In Demand and its affiliates welcome De La Hoya back
to PPV against Trinidad or Mosely on a date that is workable for everyone involved,"
In Demand senior vice president of programming, development and event acquisition Dan York
But Arum cautioned the industry that the next De La Hoya
fight may not appear on PPV. The promoter threatened to move the fight to closed-circuit
if In Demand asks for an increase in its licensing fees.
Showtime Event Television pulled a proposed March 25 Tyson
PPV event from In Demand last month over what it deemed as excessive licensing fees,
although the network was entertaining several lucrative offers from foreign promoters for
a pay TV Tyson fight prior to its negotiations with In Demand. Tyson eventually signed to
fight Lou Savarese April 8 on Showtime.
"[In Demand] shouldn't take a major percentage from
us," Arum said. But York said the network is confident that it will reach an
agreement with Top Rank and TVKO for the fight. "We're optimistic that we will come
to terms on the event," York added.