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Walkout unlikely to hurt De La Hoya


Although Oscar De La Hoya will not fight in New York tomorrow night, plenty of action continues to swirl around the high-profile but currently under-cover boxer.

Randy Gordon, chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, said yesterday that De La Hoya could be subject to disciplinary action for his failure to participate as the marquee attraction at the Paramount if the promoter filed a formal complaint. If a complaint were filed, a hearing would be scheduled and a suspension could result.

A suspension, said Gordon, would most likely be honored by other states and could seriously affect the immediate future of De La Hoya, the 1992 Olympic gold medal winner.

De La Hoya, 11-0 with 10 knockouts, was supposed to fight Jose Vidal Concepcion in a junior lightweight bout.

"It's a breach of contract," Gordon said of De La Hoya's withdrawal. "But it's in the hands of the promoter."

Promoter Bob Arum said he was not inclined to pursue official action against De La Hoya, a 20-year-old potential superstar who is embroiled in an emotional and complicated power struggle with his relatives and handlers.

Arum said he would try to meet soon with the fighter to get him to agree to a rescheduled appearance in New York.

"I'm going to sit with the kid, his father, his lawyer," said Arum. "I want to have it out. I don't want to be punitive. But I'm going to insist he come back and fight at the Paramount."

De La Hoya was closer yesterday to ending his ties to his co-managers, Steve Nelson and Robert Mittleman. He had grown disenchanted with their hands-on approach in recent months, and that led to his cancellation of the New York fight.

De La Hoya's gambit in withdrawing might have worked because Nelson and Mittleman said yesterday that they would consider a buyout of their five-year, $1.2 million deal with De La Hoya.

Monday, they filed a $10 million lawsuit against De La Hoya's new, unnamed managers for interfering with a contractual obligation.

"Oscar's new people asked what our number is to settle," Nelson said. "We gave them one, and they said they'd get back to us. It's a big number."

Nelson went on to say that their number is in the millions. Nelson and Mittleman have already paid De La Hoya $800,000 of a $1 million bonus, arranged a $14 million deal with HBO to broadcast several of his fights and completed a $1 million movie deal depicting his life. They based their settlement figure on those developments.

The fighter has not released the identity of his new managers. Gerardo Salas, De La Hoya's cousin, and Ray Garza, a Los Angeles businessman, are believed to be the front men for several other wealthy, unnamed benefactors. De La Hoya's new advisers apparently wooed him with $1.5 million in cash and are represented by a Los Angeles attorney, Michael Norris.

"The most annoying thing is nobody knows who this new group fTC is," Arum said. "I talked to Salas today, who professes not to know who they are. The scenario Salas is trying to paint is that Oscar did this on his own with two people who came into the gym one day. And, if so, that's even more bizarre.

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