Let's get ready to rumble! This month, 12 Oscar de la Hoya
wannabes start sluggin' it out over the title of The Next Great Champ
(Sept. 7 on Fox). Here, TV Guide Online tests the 31-year-old Mexican-American pugilist's reflexes with a combination of sharp questions. Will we K.O. Oscar? Read on to find out...
TV Guide Online: How would you fare in a bout with Sugar Ray Leonard, who's doing that other boxing show, NBC's The Contender?
Oscar de la Hoya: It would be evenly matched. We both possess intelligence and speed. We're both very thoughtful fighters in the ring. We don't just go in there to brawl, we think a lot. Fighters like Sugar Ray and myself see it as an art form to think on your feet while throwing combinations and, at the same time, not get hit.
TVGO: How do you answer NBC's charge that Fox ripped off their idea?
De la Hoya: I don't really know too much about how television networks come up with their ideas. All I know is that Fox has been very aggressive with The Next Great Champ, and I like that. NBC was the first to announce their boxing show, but we still had our idea for a long time. Maybe they beat us to the punch on the announcement, but that doesn't mean we can't continue with our show. [Editor's Note: This interview was conducted prior to the new lawsuit against Champ.]
TVGO: Meanwhile, what's your take on Fox's Celebrity Boxing? Cool or for fools?
De la Hoya: I would have to say it does disrespect boxing a bit. When you're inside the ring, it's not a joke. It's serious business. Boxing is a sport. When I watch Celebrity Boxing on TV, it's entertaining and those people are courageous, but it's tough to watch. For instance, Screech from Saved by the Bell was pummeling on Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter. These guys are not athletes and don't know how to hold their hands up and defend themselves right.
TVGO: What does The Next Great Champ's winner get?
De la Hoya: The cash prize is roughly three-quarters of $1 million, and we also start the winner off to a bright future in boxing. These are all young guys in their early twenties who either have amateur experience or maybe a few pro fights. It's evenly matched.
TVGO: You're something of a sex symbol. Any Oscar de la Hotties in this lot?
De la Hoya: There's one Italian guy named Mike. He's a professional tailor who goes to a boxing gym after he gets out of work. He reminds me of Joey from Friends. He has exactly that kind of charisma and look.
TVGO: Is he dumb like Joey?
De la Hoya: [Laughs] Uh, he's very friendly. A big-teddy-bear guy.
TVGO: On Sept. 18, you're fighting Bernard Hopkins. He's gonna get his ass whupped, right?
De la Hoya: Yes he is! That's what I'm hoping for. I'm challenging the ultimate fighter in the 160-pound weight division. Obviously, besides the great money, I want his belt.