Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Enterprises has promoted three 'fight nights' in the Rose Garden to modest success.
With Nike's considerable pull and financial backing, Roy Jones Jr. sold out the Garden for a title fight.
The evidence is in: A mediocre card isn't a major draw here, but a big-time event can be.
A proposal: Early next year, feature De La Hoya on a Garden card that includes Portland's own Steve Forbes, who by then may have reclaimed his International Boxing Federation junior lightweight crown.
The knock, say boxing insiders, is that De La Hoya commands at least a $3 million guarantee.
After a May 3 fight in Las Vegas against Yory Boy Campas, De La Hoya has a fight tentatively set against Sugar Shane Mosley in September at L.A.'s Staples Center. To create more interest in Golden Boy, and with the potential of a sellout in a new venue, could something be worked out to entice De La Hoya to fight here?
'We have established a great relationship with his company,' says J.E. Isaac, senior vice president/business affairs for Oregon Arena Corp. 'We had such a great result with our Roy Jones Jr. fight, it makes me feel optimistic we could, if circumstances aligned, see him fight here some day.'
Top Rank Inc., promotes De La Hoya's fights. Vice President Todd duBoes didn't return repeated calls from the Tribune.
Forbes will make $7,500 for his next fight Ñ April 26 in Las Vegas. The Grant High grad has never fought professionally here and wants desperately to do so. Matchmaker Eric Bootjer and Forbes' promoter, Cedric Kushner, have been in negotiations and want to make it happen.
'I am going to do what I can to negotiate a deal so we can bring Stevie to Portland for a major fight,' Kushner says. 'I believe that would do business. There must be a way to get support for that. I believe in good TV and live crowds, particularly in places that haven't had an abundance of boxing.'
Here's the ticket: De La Hoya against anybody, even a bum (that's what Jones faced here), with a co-main event featuring Forbes defending his title. If Forbes is not champion, match him with the best opponent available. De La Hoya might have to sacrifice a little payday in lieu of promoting the sport and his company in this city, but it would sell.
• College prospects worked out for scouts at the NFL combine last week in Indianapolis. Here's a report on local players' chances in the April draft from a scout who spoke privately:
Dennis Weathersby, cornerback, Oregon State: 'He ran pretty well, in the low 4.4s (for the 40). Has some measurables that make him attractive. He's a big corner who runs fast in a straight line. I could see second round.'
James Lee, defensive tackle, Oregon State: 'He didn't start in college, probably because he came in out of shape and never really did what he could until his senior year. He's a big kid (320 pounds) I consider him a sleeper in this draft.'
Nick Barnett, linebacker, Oregon State: 'There are teams who like Nick. He came in bigger than he was at OSU (230). He could wind up being a first-day (top three rounds) guy.'
Eric Manning, defensive tackle, Oregon State: 'Didn't make a big impression. Probably a late-round guy.'
George Wrighster, tight end, Oregon: 'He caught the ball well in the drills. There is concern about his height (under 6-3). I don't have a good feel for where he will go.'
Keenan Howry, receiver, Oregon: 'I can't say whether he helped himself or not. He has some return specialist skills. The concern is going to be size, and he is not real fast. His straight-out, top-end speed is not good compared to some other guys.'
Juston Wood, quarterback, Portland State: 'He seemed to get better as the week went on. A late-round or free-agent guy, but he will get a chance.'
Terrell Roberts, cornerback, Oregon State: 'I don't think he helped himself. He didn't run very well.'
Oregon running back Onterrio Smith and Southern California linebacker Troy Palomalu, the Roseburg native, didn't participate. Smith, expected to go in the first three rounds, will work out for NFL scouts in Eugene in the coming weeks. Palomalu, still recovering from hamstring and ankle injuries, will work out in L.A. on March 12.
• Another NFL combine view comes from ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli, who included Lee and Wrighster among his camp surprises.
On Lee: 'In a very deep defensive tackle pool, he just about got overlooked until he demonstrated very good movement skills in weekend drills. At 320 pounds, he can get upfield and change direction better than people felt he could É probably makes him a first-day player.'
On Wrighster: 'One who isn't getting lots of publicity but I really like, particularly as a receiver. He might have the best hands of any of the guys at the position. He doesn't fight the ball like some of them. He seems to run nice routes. He won't knock a defender off the line É but he's a willing blocker. He gives you something to work with, and he will get better.'
• It was pretty wild when Oregon State beat New Mexico 18-16 in the opener of the Baseball Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., last weekend, but the Beavers were just getting started. In their last game, they fell behind New Mexico State 14-0 after five innings, then rallied for a 16-14 victory.
'Most amazing game I've been in as a player or coach,' OSU coach Pat Casey says. 'There was a seven-run rule after seven innings, so going into the sixth, we needed five runs just to extend the game.'
Oregon State, 5-5, is going without Aaron Mathews, a freshman All-American center fielder last season who broke his arm in the Beavers' second game. He's not expected to be back until the first week in April. 'It's like losing your point guard,' Casey says.
• One of the good guys of local baseball is gone. Curt Daniels, who coached 18 years of high school baseball in Vancouver, Wash., and had one of the foremost summer programs in the Northwest, died Monday after a yearlong battle with kidney cancer. Daniels was 53. 'He gave his whole life to the game and the kids who wanted to play,' Stan Spencer, who played for Daniels and went on to pitch in the major leagues, told The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver.
• How do the contracts of Oregon State coach Mike Riley (base salary, $5.575 million over seven years, starting at $625,000) and Oregon's Mike Bellotti ($5.95 million over seven years, starting at $700,000) compare with that of Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks? Brooks' guarantee is even bigger. The ex-Duck mentor has a five-year contract beginning at $725,000. Remember, folks, that is before bonuses.
• Paul Banta's Adidas Oregon Track Classic has been promoted to Grand Prix I status for the next three years, joining the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene and the U.S. Open in Palo Alto, Calif., as the only ones at that level in the United States. Performances by competitors in the Oregon Track Classic on May 17 at Mt. Hood Community College help them qualify for the World Championships on Sept. 7 in Monte Carlo.
• A 'celebration of the life, career and friendships' of longtime Oregon State track coach Berny Wagner is set for March 8 in Rickreall. For more information, call Dennis Olafson, 541-258-7998, or Mike Johnson, 541-929-2524.