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'He Still Has The Beat!'
De La Hoya Punishes Gatti With 5th Round TKO
Saturday, March 24th @ MGM Grand, Las Vegas (HBO)

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Oscar De La Hoya, who said he's going to concentrate on boxing instead of singing, pounded out a steady beat on Arturo Gatti's head and body.

De La Hoya marked his return from a nine-month layoff Saturday night with a fifth-round victory.

It was a slugfest from start to finish, but De La Hoya had too much power for Gatti, knocking him down in the first round and stopping him at 1:16 of the fifth.

After De La Hoya landed a barrage of punishing head shots, Gatti's corner threw a towel into the ring and trainer Hector Rocha began to climb through the ropes. Then, referee Jay Nady signaled the end.

"I think he expects me to be an easy target," Gatti had said. And, although he fought bravely, a target is what he was.

Gatti shook De La Hoya with a big left hook early in the first round that brought a roar from a crowd of about 12,000 fans in the MGM Garden. With about 20 seconds left in the round, De La Hoya knocked Gatti down with a left hook, a right and another left hook to the head.

"I'm not even close to becoming as good as I can become," said the 28-year-old De La Hoya, who has held world titles in four weight classes. "This is just a start. I knew Gatti would be tough."

Gatti, who will be 28 on April 15, went toe to toe with De La Hoya, but De La Hoya was more accurate. He punished Gatti with a barrage of punches in the second round and cut him under the right eye. In the third round, De La Hoya ripped a cut over Gatti's right eye.

Gatti answered by cutting De La Hoya over the left eye early in the fifth round, but then De La Hoya took complete charge and ended the fight.

"I fought my heart out, that's all you can do," Gatti said.

"If I didn't stop it, he would have gotten killed in there because he wouldn't have stopped it himself," Roca said.

It was the first fight for De La Hoya since he lost the WBC welterweight title to Shane Mosely last June 17. De La Hoya, who weighed in at 147 pounds, improved to 35-2 with his 27th knockout.

Gatti, 146, a native of Montreal who lives in Jersey City, N.J., is 33-5 with 27 knockouts. Gatti is a former IBF junior lightweight champion.

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Oscar De La Hoya, a Grammy nominee, showed up at the Hollywood Theater in the MGM Grand on Wednesday, not to sing but to talk about resuming his hit parade.

The occasion was the final news conference for De La Hoya's 12-round welterweight fight against Arturo Gatti on Saturday night.

It will be De La Hoya's first fight since losing the WBC welterweight title on a split decision to Shane Mosley last June 17 at Los Angeles.

In the interval, De La Hoya recorded "Oscar De La Hoya," nominated for a Grammy as best Latin Pop Album of 2000.

It also will be De La Hoya's first fight with a new promoter, Jerry Perenchio, and his first with a new trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., father of the WBC super featherweight champion.

"It's great to be back," said the 28-year-old De La Hoya, who won an Olympic gold medal and world championships in three weight classes. "I feel very happy. Finally, after so many years, we're doing things right."

Robert Alcazar, who had been with De La Hoya for years, trained him for the Mosley fight. Jesus Rivera, Emmanuel Steward and Gil Clancy also have worked with De La Hoya.

"He's pushed me like nobody else pushed me," De La Hoya said. "I thank him for teaching me how to box."

"I think this is the perfect time for me to fight Oscar De La Hoya," said Gatti, 28, a native of Montreal living at Jersey City, New Jersey, who held the IBF junior lightweight title. "Oscar is not taking me seriously. He's just looking for a fight to get back into boxing."

De La Hoya (32-2, 26 knockouts) was a 30-1 favorite. He will get $5 million, while Gatti (33-4, 27 knockouts) will get $1.4 million.

Also on the card at the MGM Grand will be an IBF cruiserweight title defense by Vassiliy Jirov (27-0, 25 knockouts) of Kazakstan against Terry McGroom (19-2-2, 10 knockouts) of Little Rock, Arkan


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