It's not enough that Oscar De La Hoya won the world welterweight championship six times and an Olympic gold medal in 1992. Or that the dairy industry's cutest milk-mustache model was the only presenter at last month's Latin Grammys to inspire louder girlie screams from the audience than 'N Sync. De La Hoya, 27, wants more. His newest persona: Oscar the Swoon-Inducing Singer.
De La Hoya's self-titled debut album is a collection of love ballads in English and Spanish that feature the boxer's sweet falsetto over starry-eyed songs like "Mi Amor" and "Tu Me Completas." The album is produced and largely written by Rudy Perez (of Ricky Martin fame), but De La Hoya chose his own heartfelt version of the Bee Gees' "I Run to You" as the first single. The song, like the rest of the CD, feels smoother than silk sheets on freshly Jacuzzied skin. But under all the lovelorn melodrama and often saccharine sentiments, De La Hoya can actually sing. His harmonies are compelling and warm, his delivery solid (and, most important, sultry). "This album is gonna touch more women's hearts," says De La Hoya, lounging on the couch of his Los Angeles hotel room next to a perfumed teddy bear that, he explains, was a gift from a "friend." "People think I'm just an animal because boxing is such a brutal sport, but I actually shut [my emotions] down when I'm in the ring. If I didn't, I would be hitting the guy and apologizing to him: 'Oh, my gosh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that.' But with this album, now they're going to say, 'Wow, he really does have a big heart'."
Pouring his heart out in song is nothing new for De La Hoya. His mother, a professional singer from Mexico, encouraged her son to sing along with her as they did chores in their East L.A. home. He started boxing at 5, but always considered himself more of an entertainer than a fighter. Above all, though, he thinks of himself as a ladies' man. "Diane Warren wrote the song 'With These Hands' for me," says De La Hoya, "but it isn't about fighting. …