Mon, May 08, 2006 - Page 20 News List

De La Hoya still has plenty of punch

AP , LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Ricardo Mayorga, right, of Nicaragua, takes a left from Oscar De La Hoya, of Los Angeles, during the second round of their WBC super-welterweight championship bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Oscar De La Hoya made an impressive return to the ring after a 20-month absence, knocking down Ricardo Mayorga in the first round before finally stopping him in the sixth to claim the WBC's 154-pound title on Saturday night.

Showing no signs of rust or reluctance, the 33-year-old De La Hoya knocked down Mayorga in the opening minute and never let up, unleashing waves of punishing head shots until Mayorga went down for the third time at 1:25 of the sixth.

It was the best fight for De La Hoya since he stopped Fernando Vargas four years ago and a near-perfect result in what De La Hoya claims will be the penultimate fight of his storied career.

De La Hoya (38-4, 30 KOs) clearly hadn't lost his passion for the ring since Bernard Hopkins stopped him in the ninth round with a devastating body punch in September 2004. Spurred by Mayorga's pre-fight insults toward his family and courage, De La Hoya overwhelmed the wild-punching Mayorga with clinical right hands and a handful of devastating left hooks, stalking him around the ring and controlling nearly every moment of the fight.

"No matter what, I was going to stand up to him, let him know right away that I was here to fight," De La Hoya said. "I had to show the bully that I wasn't going to back down. He fought recklessly, but I stood my ground, and he saw I wouldn't back down."

He sent Mayorga to the canvas just 60 seconds in, artfully ducking a wild punch and responding with a strong right and a brutal left hook. The crowd stood, and De La Hoya cast a disdainful glance over his shoulder as he walked to the neutral corner.

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