Oscar De La Hoya: All eyes will be on welterweight division Saturday
“All of the world’s eyes” will be on the 147-pound division on Saturday, said Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya, referring to the fact that four of THE RING’s top 10 welterweights will be in action on that night in Las Vegas.
No. 2-rated Tim Bradley will fight Diego Chaves at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas in an event being handled by Top Rank Promotions and being televised by HBO, whereas No. 7-rated rated Keith Thurman will face Leonard Bundu in support of a main event featuring former titleholders Amir Khan and Devon Alexander, who are THE RING’s No. 9 and 10-rated welterweights.
“Absolutely, the welterweight division will have all of the world’s eyes on it this Saturday with Amir and Devon,” said De La Hoya, promoter of the Showtime telecast headlined by Khan and Alexander at the MGM Grand. “And then you mention Tim Bradley and Keith Thurman. Winners out of those fights will be in line and knocking on that door to fight (Floyd) Mayweather (Jr.) or (Manny) Pacquiao.”
Meanwhile, buzz for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight has been escalating over the past 12 months, during which Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 knockouts) has unanimously decisioned Brandon Rios in November 2013, Bradley in April and Chris Algieri last month.
In the Algieri fight, Pacquiao scored six knockdowns in defense of his WBO welterweight title. Bradley and Algieri were previously undefeated. The victories restored Pacquiao’s luster after having been dethroned as WBO titleholder in a split-decision loss to Bradley and knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez.
Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) wants a fight with Pacquiao “real bad,” said Sam Watson, right-hand man to Mayweather’s adviser, Al Haymon, during a video interview in late November.
“I’m just speaking as a promoter on what these fighters deserve. I don’t know if the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight is going to happen,” said De La Hoya. “I have no idea. The world has been waiting for it for four years. Why should I believe that it’s going to happen now?”
Still, De La Hoya believes that either Bradley, Khan, Alexander or Thurman could interject himself into the conversations concerning either Mayweather or Pacquiao with a superlative effort on Saturday.
“This is a very important night. That’s why I think that all of the fighters sort of know what’s at stake,” said De La Hoya. “I think that we’re not only going to get an entertaining night of boxing for all of the fans, but we’re also going to have a clearer picture of whose going to be fighting Mayweather and Pacquiao next.”
“I’ve got to bring out all of the stops in this fight. I’ve just got to bring my skills and to just be me. I have just got to be Devon Alexander ‘The Great.’ I’m going back to the days where people knew me as an up and coming star,” said Alexander, 27.
“That’s the performance that I’m looking for and that’s what I’m bringing to this fight. I definitely need to win, and I want to look good doing it. I think that all of the winners that night, there are going to be a lot of people looking at them and saying that these are the future welterweights. It can’t get no bigger than this.”
Alexander’s only other loss was by unanimous decision to two-division titleholder Timothy Bradley as 140-pounders in January 2011.
“Floyd has fought everybody, so I haven’t seen Floyd duck anybody. This is a huge fight. It’s a huge promotion, and these are two of the bigger names in the welterweight division,” said Alexander’s trainer, Kevin Cunningham.
“The winner of this fight deserves a shot at Floyd. I think that Floyd will step up and give the winner of this fight a shot for sure. It’s been a while Floyd since Floyd has fought an athletic, slick African American fighter, so I think he will step up to the challenge. I think that he’ll step up and give the winner of this fight a shot, regardless of whether it’s Devon or Amir Khan.”
In his last fight in May, Khan scored a one-sided unanimous decision over former welterweight titleholder Luis Collazo, whom he floored three times.
“I want win this fight, but to not only win it, but to win it with good style and with good fashion,” said Khan, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Monday.
“I want the boxing fans and the world to demand that fight between me and Floyd. I want people to demand it. I want people to say that he should fight Mayweather. I don’t want it to just happen, I want people demanding it.”