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Big Loss Dims 'Golden Boy' De La Hoya's Luster

HBO Pay-Per-View's Sept. 13 Oscar De La Hoya-Shane Mosley fight was a major revenue success — but the damage done to De La Hoya's reputation could outweigh the short-term gain.

The rematch of a 2000 bout between former welterweight champions drew 975,000 buys and earned $50.2 million in PPV revenue, Home Box Office senior vice president of sports operations Mark Taffet said. That dwarfs the first fight's 586,000 buys.

Mosley again beat De La Hoya in a close, disputed decision. But unlike the first bout, De La Hoya said he is protesting the most recent call.

De La Hoya-Mosley II is the second highest-grossing non-heavyweight fight in history, trailing only the $62.4 million PPV payday from a September 1999 De La Hoya fight against Felix Trinidad, Taffet said.

"We expect that once the cable systems fully report their digital-cable buys, we may exceed 1 million buys," he said.

The disputed ending to the biggest fight of 2003 — and talk of De La Hoya's possible retirement — puts a damper on the category's future potential.

With the uncertainty surrounding Mike Tyson, De La Hoya is arguably the biggest PPV draw among the current lot of world champions and top contenders, and he's the only fighter with enough name recognition to carry an event without a top-flight opponent.

Even if he continues to fight, industry observers are concerned the loss to Mosley will ultimately diminish the "Golden Boy's" PPV appeal.

But New York Daily News
boxing writer Tim Smith believes that De La Hoya will continue to be the only viable PPV candidate in the marketplace. "He's a singular attraction, and people will vaguely remember that he's loss three times," he said.

Taffet said several fights on the horizon, pitting some of today's top boxers, could come close to rivaling the PPV performance of De La Hoya-Mosley.

"Shane Mosley's win adds another major fighter to the PPV portfolio for 2004," Taffet said. "There are a tremendous amount of match-ups between Mosley [welterweight champion]. Ricardo Mayorga, [middleweight] champion Bernard Hopkins, [former junior middleweight champion] Fernando Vargas and — if he decides to fight again — Oscar De La Hoya."

HBO PPV will distribute a Nov. 8 PPV bout between heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr., who will drop down two weight classes to challenge light-heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver.

HBO PPV is also finalizing a Dec. 13 PPV fight card headlined by a bout between Mayorga and Hopkins, Taffet said.