De La Hoya won't fight Mayweather in fall, may retire

Junior middleweight titlist Oscar De La Hoya said time and again in recent weeks that if he didn't fight pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a Sept. 16 megafight, he would retire.

Now, after weeks of will-he-or-won't-he speculation, De La Hoya has made his decision. He will detail it to the media in a teleconference Wednesday afternoon, Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions told ESPN.com on Monday night.

"He's going to talk about what he has decided to do," Schaefer said. "Oscar told me what he is going to do, but I can't comment on it. He wants to make the announcement."

Whatever De La Hoya announces, he won't announce a Sept. 16 fight with Mayweather.

Leonard Ellerbe, a Mayweather adviser, told ESPN.com that the Mayweather camp has been informed that De La Hoya won't fight again this year.

"Every indication we've gotten from Golden Boy Promotions is that he is not going to fight this year," Ellerbe said. "They have not indicated what exactly he will do, but he is not fighting Floyd Mayweather and he is not fighting this year. That's what we've been told."

Said Schaefer, "I can't comment on that."

Ellerbe said the news has prompted Mayweather to begin planning his next fight without De La Hoya.

"We have to move forward," Ellerbe said. "Floyd is clearly head and shoulders above any fighter out there, and the best fighter in the world is going to fight on Nov. 4 on HBO Pay-Per-View."

John Hornewer, Mayweather's attorney, told ESPN.com: "Having been informed that Oscar has decided not to fight again in 2006, we believe that it would be best for Floyd to set a date in the fall to maximize pay-per-view buys and his profile as the best fighter in the world."

Ellerbe said Mayweather also intends for his following fight to be Feb. 24, 2007, which happens to be Mayweather's 30th birthday.

Schaefer has been working on putting together a fall HBO PPV card headlined by a rematch between junior lightweight champ Marco Antonio Barrera and Rocky Juarez. Although it had been penciled in for November, it would probably shift to Sept. 16 to fill the void left by De La Hoya.

According to Ellerbe, the list of opponents Mayweather is interested in fighting Nov. 4 are welterweight titlist Antonio Margarito, the winner of the July 15 Shane Mosley-Fernando Vargas rematch; welterweight titlist Ricky Hatton; junior welterweight titlist Miguel Cotto; or welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir, if he successfully defends his crown against Arturo Gatti on July 22.

"We'll throw all those names in a hat and come up with a major pay-per-view fight for Floyd," Ellerbe said. "There are a number of places interested in hosting the fight, but we're leaning toward Las Vegas," where Mayweather lives.

A De La Hoya-Mayweather showdown shaped up as the biggest match in boxing today, the one event that could easily surpass the hallowed one million buy mark on pay-per-view. It would match De La Hoya, the sport's most popular fighter, with Mayweather, the sport's No. 1 fighter, who happens to be the estranged son of De La Hoya trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr.

De La Hoya told ESPN.com during an interview two weeks ago in Atlantic City, N.J., where he was promoting the Bernard Hopkins-Antonio Tarver light heavyweight championship fight, that he was struggling to make a decision about whether he should retire or fight once more.

But he said if he was going to fight, he would only face Mayweather Jr.

"If I do fight again, it would be Floyd Mayweather Jr. It's down to him," De La Hoya said during the interview. "I understand he can beat me, but at the same time I understand I can beat him. Obviously, it's a big money fight. I can't deny that. I think he is the best fighter out there right now, pound for pound. And if I do decide to fight again it would be against the best. I think that would motivate me."

If De La Hoya, 33, was going to fight Sept. 16, he would have to make up his mind almost immediately because there are deadlines for various aspects of a major promotion at hand. Also, even if De La Hoya did decide to move forward with a Sept. 16 fight, he would still have to negotiate a deal with Mayweather, which would further delay the promotion.

De La Hoya returned from a 20-month layoff May 6 to win a 154-pound title by knocking out Ricardo Mayorga in the sixth round. Afterward, De La Hoya said he was giving serious thought to walking away on top despite the possibility of earning perhaps as much as $30 million to fight Mayweather.

He detailed various injuries that he said would make it hard for him to go through another training camp as grueling as the one he put himself through to get ready for Mayorga.

De La Hoya said he has a torn left rotator cuff, a damaged left hand that requires pain shots, arthritis in both elbows, a bad back and a possible broken knuckle on his right hand, which he hurt while training for Mayorga.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com