By: Sean Crose
Diego De La Hoya was supposed to win when he stepped in between the ropes to face the 31-3 Ronny Rios last July in Carson, California. Instead, it was the 21-0 rising star out of Mexico that found himself stopped in the sixth round. Yet De La Hoya, a member of a royal boxing family if ever there was one, indicated he sees the loss as a positive. “With this loss,” he recently said to me over the phone, “I’m going to gain a lot of experience.” Like Anthony Joshua recently proved, a single defeat does not a career take. “I’ve learned a lot from this,” the 25 year old told me.
De La Hoya returns to the ring this weekend when he takes on the 16-6 Renson Robles in his native Mexico. “I’m very happy,” De La Hoya said, “we’re only days away from fighting in Mexicali.” With his single loss behind him, De La Hoya feels that “things will go well” when he faces Robles on Saturday. Although not a household name, Venezuela’s Robles, who is on a three fight win streak, would clearly love to make his mark against a fighter as well known as De La Hoya, who shares his cousin Oscar’s last name.
“He’s a very valiant fighter,” De La Hoya said of his foe. He’s not lying. Although Robles has lost six fights, he’ll be fighting for the fourth time this year this weekend – an oddity in the modern fight game for a boxer who isn’t just starting to get his feet wet. “This is a fight,” De La Hoya told me, “that’s been brewing for a while.” Not that he comes across as uneasy. When we spoke last week, De La Hoya had just finished up camp, and was sounding confident and energetic.
Now entering his seventh year as a pro fighter, the former standout amateur is clearly eager to get back on track in the loaded featherweight division. De La Hoya has already bested the likes of Estrella Ruiz and Randy Caballero. With names like Warrington, Russell, Stevenson, and Frampton on the featherweight roster, the sky’s the limit for any fighter on the rise. By fighting in his hometown this weekend, De La Hoya has the chance to impress. “They can believe in me,” he says of the local fans, indicating that he’s a fighter who obviously believes in himself.