A lot has happened to Diego De La Hoya since we last saw him on a big stage dismantling then-unbeaten Randy Caballero on the Gennadiy Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez undercard in 2017. There were two attempts at a homecoming fight in his native Mexicali, Mexico, with the first one against Edixon Perez having to be canceled due to De La Hoya’s inability to make 122 pounds, in November 2018. Unfortunately this resulted in a brief hospitalization for dehydration. The second attempt last April ended in a no-contest when a clash of heads with Enrique Bernache opened a bad cut in the middle of Bernache’s forehead, forcing the bout to be halted. That was also De La Hoya’s first attempt at fighting at 126 pounds.
On Saturday, De La Hoya (21-0, 10 knockouts) returns to California, as a junior featherweight, as he takes on former title challenger Ronny Rios (30-3, 14 KOs) as the co-feature to the Rey Vargas-Tomoki Kameda WBC junior featherweight title bout at Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly StubHub Center) and streaming live on DAZN.
“I thank god for this great opportunity to have such an important fight against Ronny Rios,” De La Hoya said via interpreter. “We are just days away and I feel 100% ready and I am very motivated to put on a great show for all the fans.”
De La Hoya, who turns 25 in August, said he is poised put the disappointments of last year behind him as he mounts his campaign for a world title opportunity later this year.
“I was very upset how the fight in Mexico ended. I wish I could have had the chance to perform for my fans who were waiting for me but this is boxing and anything can happen. I will come back to put on a great show for Mexicali and I will be a world champion when I do it.”
In Rios, ranked No. 8 by the WBA at junior featherweight, De La Hoya will face his stiffest test as a professional and he believes a good showing will propel him to a world title opportunity against one of champions in the 122-pound division.
“Rios is a good fighter and he promised a war, so we trained for a war,” De La Hoya said emphatically. “I believe our fight will steal the show on Saturday because we both like to fight and there will be action.”
De La Hoya, ranked No. 3 by the WBA, said he feels no pressure coming into this bout because he is prepared mentally as well as physically.
“I am actually calm and feel better back at 122 pounds,” De La Hoya said. “Honestly I felt heavy at 126. It was much harder than I thought it would be and the good thing about being at 122 pounds is it allows me to recuperate much better and quicker.”
De La Hoya said he knows better than to look past Rios, who can ruin his world title dreams with one punch but the ambition to become a world champion is his main driving force to excel in the sport.
“I know who Rios is and he is my toughest opponent,” De La Hoya said. “Hopefully we both come out OK and healthy and with my hand raised in victory. After that I want to fight for a world title because I am ready. The time is now. I want everyone to know Diego De La Hoya is back.”
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