De La Hoya, who earned $9 million to Camacho's $3 million, is still learning on the job, so it's no knock on him that he hasn't been plunged into battles with really dangerous opponents like Felix Trinidad or WBC super welterweight champion Terry Norris, who could come down to 147 pounds to fight him. Furthermore, it's a small complaint that in his next fights—on Dec. 6 against Wilfredo Rivera and in early 1998 against France's Patrick Charpentier—he will face opponents who are not exactly marquee names. "Next year," De La Hoya promises, "will be the year I fight everybody: Trinidad, Norris, they're in the plans."
Out of the ring De La Hoya is coming to grips with his rather devil-may-care lifestyle. Recently he discovered that he was about to become a father, though not by the woman he intends to marry. This caused him some anxiety, especially in the explanation to his fiancée, an 18-year-old from Southern California whose name De La Hoya has kept private. De La Hoya says he told his fiancée that on the one hand, he very much wants to take care of the baby—he would build an addition onto his house, add a nanny to the entourage—and on the other hand, he'd still like to follow through on their plans to get married, but maybe not this year, perhaps not even next. It's possible, he told her, that he will fight Norris before any bells except Terry's will ring.
So De La Hoya is settling down, if not quite settled down. Moreover, he seems to have come to grips with the idea that he's in boxing for a longer run than he used to think. Whereas last spring he was dropping hints of his imminent retirement, now he's talking of fighting for five more years. He has a keener eye to his legacy, whether it's babies or boxing titles, than he did before.
If De La Hoya is determined to establish a reputation in the sport, and maybe become a family man, too, he's gotten a head start on Camacho, whose nocturnal lifestyle might have kept him from the stardom now within De La Hoya's reach. It's no longer Macho Time, and the great entrance he made on Saturday night might have been his exit. The people are coming to see De La Hoya now. The women in the crowd keen loudly and unfurl banners proposing marriage. The men gasp at the ripping uppercuts he throws. Maybe that was De La Hoya making the great entrance, even without a visored helmet. We'll miss the helmet.