<
>

Diego De La Hoya stepping up opposition on Canelo card

Well-regarded junior featherweight prospect Diego De La Hoya, left, will face Orlando Del Valle on Saturday. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Diego De La Hoya has a name and connections that have opened doors for him in boxing. But it is now time to find out if the 22-year-old can really fight, because when the bell rings a last name is not going to help.

Mexico's De La Hoya (15-0, 9 KOs), an up-and-coming junior featherweight, is the first cousin of boxing legend and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya. He takes on easily the best opponent of his three-year career when he tangles with Puerto Rican veteran Orlando Del Valle (22-2, 16 KOs) in the 10-round bout that will open the Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith card on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at AT&T Stadium.

Thanks to Diego's last name and his status as a quality prospect, Oscar De La Hoya has put him on big cards. Diego last fought in May, knocking out then-unbeaten Rocco Santomauro in the seventh round on the undercard of Alvarez's fight against Amir Khan in Las Vegas.

Oscar De La Hoya was the face of boxing during his heyday, the pay-per-view superstar who headlined the biggest events. Following in his footsteps would seem like a daunting for his cousin, but Diego, who is managed by Joel De La Hoya (Oscar's older brother) has kept a level head about it.

"I've been training very intensely for this fight. I feel no pressure, and I'm very committed to deliver a great fight with this great opportunity," Diego De La Hoya said. "My promotional company, Golden Boy, and my manager, Joel De La Hoya, have a lot of confidence in me, and have given me difficult fights because I feel like I can prove that I have great qualities to go far in boxing and in my career. And they expect the best of me, and that's what I expect to give people back."

Although Diego and Oscar are not particularly close, Diego did say that Oscar has been a big supporter of his career.

"The last time I spoke with Oscar, I was very excited about the event because there was potential of me being on pay-per-view, and it was something that he promised me, and he definitely came through," Diego said. "He did say, 'You know, you've just got to give it your all. It's very difficult to go out there with the last name, but if you give it your all and you're dedicated enough, I can definitely help you get where you want to be in your career.'

"It's a very important fight this Saturday, and I have to take advantage of it. This fight has the potential to open so many doors, and we are going to show how hard we have trained for this. This is my biggest stage, and we are going to leave it all on the mat. We know that Del Valle is a fighter with a lot of experience, but we are expecting a knockout come Saturday night. We have worked extremely hard, and we are hoping to represent the Mexican community and show off our pride in the ring."

A win against Del Valle, 29, who has won four fights in a row since dropping a lopsided 10-round decision to undefeated Luis Rosa in 2014, could position De La Hoya for a possible title fight next year.

"We look for big things from Diego, and very soon," Golden Boy president Eric Gomez said. "If he gets past this very tough fight, he's going to be fighting for a world title in the near future.

"This is a big step up for Diego. It's a tough fight. Orlando Del Valle is a very tough fighter. I know him very well. I've scouted him in the past when I was doing matchmaking for Golden Boy. It's a very tough fight. So depending how he looks in this fight, we'll sit down as a team and we'll go over it."