LAS VEGAS (AP) - If Oscar De La Hoya had dodged Manny Pacquiao's punches as well as he deflected questions about his future Friday, the next step in the Golden Boy's boxing career wouldn't be in doubt.
De La Hoya will announce whether he'll fight again on Tuesday afternoon - and not a moment earlier, he insists - during a news conference in Los Angeles at Staples Center, where a statue of him stands watch outside.
During a lengthy chat on the day before his promotions company stages Winky Wright's middleweight fight with Paul Williams, De La Hoya insisted he has firmly made up his mind about his future. Yet boxing's most popular fighter is still thinking about both courses of action, with compelling arguments both for retiring and for staying in the ring.
"My decision is solely based on how I feel, not on how (business partner) Richard (Schaefer) feels, and not on how my wife feels," De La Hoya said. "I've had input from tons of people.
Obviously I'm going to pay more attention to people who are closest to me, but I literally was asking people in the street: 'Should I retire or should I continue?' It was split.
"'Enjoy your family.' That was my No. 1 response from most people."
Judging by the scattered boos greeting De La Hoya during his duties as a promoter in San Jose and Las Vegas in recent weeks, many fight fans apparently hope Pacquiao put him into retirement.
The Filipino pound-for-pound king stopped De La Hoya after eight rounds Dec. 6 in a thorough thrashing.
The loss was De La Hoya's fourth in his last seven fights, and he hasn't beaten a truly daunting opponent in several years. De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs) seems well aware of his limitations, yet he still hasn't quenched the competitive fire that drove him to win Olympic gold and enough title belts to cover both of his outstretched arms.
Although retirement seems logical for a fighter who had long vowed to quit in late 2008 before hedging his intentions, some boxing observers also wonder whether De La Hoya-the-promoter can allow De La Hoya-the-fighter to retire.
He is his company's most valuable asset, with every fight generating multiple millions in revenue and providing an undercard showcase for his top young fighters. Golden Boy Promotions sits with Bob Arum's Top Rank atop the sport, yet Golden Boy's most marketable fighters - De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Sugar Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez - are all in their mid-30s or older.
"There's no pressure whatsoever," De La Hoya insisted of his business concerns. "Golden Boy Promotions is a machine on its own. It's a company that is paving the way towards the future of the sport, and we don't need the Hopkinses or the Mosleys or the De La Hoyas to rely on."
De La Hoya can't explain exactly why he looked so bad against Pacquiao, although he claims he lost a surprising amount of muscle mass while making the 147-pound weight limit. He still hasn't watched the fight again, saying he has it on TiVo, but can't bring himself to push "Play."
Although De La Hoya says he had no power behind his punches at the slim weight, he walked around Mandalay Bay on Friday weighing just 152 pounds.
"If I'm weighing 154 up in that ring, I can be a beast," he said, his eyes flashing at the thought. "I'm not trying to be 152. I'm eating great. I just lost a lot of muscle mass. Something went wrong (against Pacquiao)."
De La Hoya insists he's wary of sticking around his sport too long. He has contemplated the cautionary tale of Brett Favre, who ruined a graceful end to his career in Green Bay for one tedious campaign with the New York Jets.
"If I did decide to retire, I'm content with my career," De La Hoya said. "I'm content with what I've accomplished. As an athlete who's very competitive, you always want more, but in the back of your mind you start thinking about all the wins and what you've accomplished for the sport. That's what makes it so difficult. You think, 'I can still do this."'
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