Boxing: Champion De La Hoya still waiting for father's praise

MAYBE THIS time Oscar De La Hoya, Olympic gold medallist, three- times world champion, winner of $100m in purses and idol of millions, will hear his father finally say he is proud of him. But the World Boxing Council welterweight champion will not be holding his breath, even if he beats the International Boxing Federation champion, Felix Trinidad, Saturday in the biggest fight of their undefeated careers.

That is because he cannot remember Joel De La Hoya ever complimenting him. But he said: "He's a Mexican father. It's about ego. He just won't tell me. One day he will. He knows I'm good."

The subject came up because the fathers of the two fighters are intimately involved in the day-to-day lives of their sons. Trinidad's father, Felix, Snr a former fighter, not only trains his son, but most reports say he tightly controls his son's life outside the ring as well. Trinidad, who is married and expecting a second child, says that is fine with him, that his father "taught me how to throw my first, second, third, fourth punch and all the punches I have thrown. He's my father and my trainer."

Asked if his father withheld praise as De La Hoya's father does, Trinidad said, "my father gives me a lot of credit when I do things well and tells me when I do things wrong. That's why we are a very great team, father and son."

De La Hoya's father has been accused by people fired from the fighter's camp of exerting control over his son's career. De La Hoya was asked how he would feel if his father were with him every day like Trinidad's father. "I can't imagine it." De La Hoya said. "From the experience I've had with my father, if he were there every day, I couldn't take it. I'd want to be my own man. There'd be tension. He was there [in training camp] about three times and that was more than enough."

De La Hoya was asked if he knew that his father had told his son's trainer that he has never seen the boxer look so good. "I read it in a newspaper. But I don't want to read it, I want to hear it."