Sunday, April 02, 2023  |



Diego De La Hoya homing in on title shot if he can beat Ruiz ‘convincingly’

Fighters Network

TUCSON, Ariz. – Diego De La Hoya gets more questions about his famous name than he does about his handspeed, or a rugged opponent’s experience, or his chances at finally getting a shot at a major title.

Those questions were there, all over again, from the media Wednesday after he stepped off the scale right at the junior featherweight limit, 122 pounds, for Thursday’s ESPN telecast (7 p.m. PT/10 p.m.) against Erik Ruiz at Casino Del Sol.

What’s it like to be a De La Hoya?

Can you be the next Oscar?

The 22-year-old Diego, Oscar De La Hoya’s first cousin, has been answering those two and many more for nearly as long as he’s been sparring. He’s happy they’re always there. The proud name opens doors and creates opportunities. With it, he has a measure of celebrity that wouldn’t be there if his name were, say, Erik Ruiz.

But a name, even a famous one, is nothing more than stitching on a pair of trunks after opening bell.

“I’m aware of the questions because of the name,” said De La Hoya, who is the featured fighter on a card promoted by – you guessed it – cousin Oscar’s Golden Boy Promotions. “When people ask, they think Oscar De La Hoya is being helpful in my fights. But I’m doing my own thing. I have tough fights, every time.”

Tough, in part, because of the name that makes him a very big target. From Oscar to Diego, everybody wants to beat a De La Hoya. That means a kind of pressure on Diego never encountered by young fighters without the big name.

It has been that way since Diego was an amateur. He’s been at his craft since he was 6 years old. He had a reported 250 amateur bouts, unlike another famous name: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Chavez Jr., son of the Mexican legend, had only two amateur bouts before he cashed in on a name that helped him land a seven-figure purse in an embarrassing loss to Canelo Alvarez on May 6.

Other than defend it, there’s not a whole lot more Diego can do with the De La Hoya name. Oscar did it all. Unlike Chavez Jr., however, Diego has been at work on his craft. So far, so good. He’s 17-0, including nine knockouts, on a pro resume that is beginning to put him within reach of a major title.

“First, he’s got a tough customer in Erik Ruiz,” said his manager, Joel De La Hoya, Oscar’s brother. “If he beats him convincingly, then he’s another step closer. He’s got to be ready. Then we’ll make a decision.”

In Ruiz (16-6-1, 6 KOs), Diego faces a 26-year-old fighter who has struggled over the last couple of years. He’s 3-5-1 over his last nine fights. But he’s also a fighter who has gone the distance with some of the division’s best.

Ruiz, who was at 122.4 pounds Wednesday, lost a decision in 2015 to Jessie Magdaleno. Magdaleno went on to win the WBO’s 122-pound title last year in an upset of Nonito Donaire. In the more experienced Ruiz, a new test might await Diego. He and his corner hope so.

“Yeah, you may have one of the biggest names in boxing,” Joel De La Hoya said. “I’m sure that’s a lot of pressure. But this kid has the goods. He’s really got the goods. But he understands he has to create his own path as well.”

Those questions? They will be there, no matter where that path goes.

Golden Boy super middleweight prospect D’Mitrius Ballard (16-0, 12 KOs) of Temple Hills, Maryland, weighed 167.4 pounds and Adrian Luna (20-4-1, 13 KOs) of Mexico was at 167.8 for the bout that will open the ESPN telecast.

Before the De La Hoya-Ruiz and Ballard-Luna fights, preliminary bouts will be telecast on ESPN3 (5:30 pm PT/8:30 ET).