by Scotty L of Predictem.com
Name: Oscar De La Hoya
Nickname: The Golden Boy
Born: February 4, 1973
From: Los Angeles, California
Weight Class: Junior Lightweight to Middleweight
Professional Record: 39 wins, 6 losses, and 30 knockouts
Oscar De La Hoya became a boxing superstar precisely at the right moment for the sport of boxing. With the greats of the 80’s winding down their careers, De La Hoya filled a void that helped sustain boxing’s popularity into the 90’s and beyond. He is a model for future boxers—he fought everybody win or lose, made a ton of money, and exited the sport at just the right time.
Oscar began boxing in his childhood. His father got him involved with the sport and kept Oscar focused. While perhaps pushy with forcing boxing on his son at times, Oscar nevertheless took to the sport and began distinguishing himself as a hotshot amateur. He racked up Golden Gloves Championships and set his sights on the Olympics. Inspired by the loss of his mother, De La Hoya went to Barcelona in 1992 and won the gold medal. It’s safe to say that Oscar was the USA’s last true amateur boxing star. When he turned pro, the interest in him was already huge, much like when Sugar Ray Leonard turned pro 16 years earlier.
De La Hoya began fighting journeymen and moved up very quickly. At 5’11,” he was a huge junior lightweight and lightweight. He mowed through his competition, winning the WBO 130 lb. and 135 lb. titles. For the first few years, he rightfully caught some flack for singling out inferior opposition. That tag would soon be shed. De La Hoya really began serving notice that he is a true superstar by blasting out champions Rafael Ruelas (43-1) and Genaro Hernandez (32-0-1) in impressive fashion in 1995.
After a pair of 2nd round knockouts over the normally durable Jesse James Leija and Darryl Tyson, De La Hoya moved up for his first superfight—against Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez. In June of 1996, De La Hoya used Chavez’s face as target practice for four rounds, turning his face into a gruesome mask of blood. The fight was stopped and Oscar had his biggest win. Some Mexican fans would not forgive De La Hoya for effectively ending the career of their hero. Later in the year, Oscar confirmed his standing as the top junior welterweight in the land with a unanimous decision over Miguel Angel Gonzalez (41-0).
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Moving up to Fight the Big Boys
De La Hoya moved up to welterweight to fight esteemed champion Pernell Whitaker. While confounded at times by the wizardly WBC champion, he managed to come home a unanimous decision winner and become the first to truly beat Whitaker in another hallmark victory. By now, Oscar was at the top of most pound-for-pound lists—a true superstar.
Five dominant defenses followed, including another stoppage of Chavez. Oscar then signed to fight fellow welterweight titlist Ike Quartey. In his first fight against a top-notch prime fighter who matched him in size, De La Hoya struggled before nearly stopping Quartey in a memorable final round. De La Hoya won a split decision and was lauded for being able to dig deep to win a fight. He showed he was more than a front-running hype machine.
In 1999, De La Hoya fought undefeated champion and Puerto Rican hero Felix Trinidad, 35-0. The superfight captured the attention of millions who anticipated a fight reminiscent of Leonard-Hearns, two undefeated welterweights fighting for supremacy. The fight was a bit of a stinker, only because for the first 7 or so rounds, De La Hoya outclassed Trinidad with his fast power boxing. He outboxed Trinidad very cleanly and bloodied him in the process. It was a rout.
As the fight moved into the last several rounds, De La Hoya stopped boxing and went into a 4-corners defense, allowing Trinidad to get back into the fight. The decision for Trinidad was shocking to some, but De La Hoya shares the blame. When greatness was right there to be taken, De La Hoya didn’t answer the call. He tried to sit on a lead when he should have kept right on battering Trinidad. At the same time, it is difficult to watch that fight on tape and justify how Trinidad could have won 7 out of 12 rounds.
De La Hoya was never quite able to recover from the loss. Two fights later, he lost to Shane Mosley. While still a superstar, he was no longer the figure of dominance he had once been. In 2002, he brutalized Fernando Vargas in a marquee grudge match that restored some shine to his career. Two fights later, he seemed unlucky to lose another decision to Shane Mosley in a rematch. For one of boxing’s biggest players, De La Hoya caught a couple bad breaks in decisions in pivotal fights. Where would he have ended up if he was rightfully given the decisions in the Trinidad and Mosley II fights?
De La Hoya continued to make big money, but his slippage was hard to ignore after getting a gift decision of his own against Felix Sturm, followed by a one-punch body shot knockout loss to Middleweight Champion Bernard Hopkins. A resounding knockout win over ex-champ Ricardo Mayorga set up a megafight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2007. De La Hoya was competitive, but nonetheless dropped a decision. He made over $50 million for his troubles. In late-2008, De La Hoya was the favorite against the much-smaller Manny Pacquiao. At 145 lbs., his lightest in almost a dozen years, he lacked his usual pep. It didn’t help that his opponent was absolutely at his peak. It wasn’t close. After 8 rounds, De La Hoya wisely ran up the white flag. Within months, he would announce his retirement.
Retirement and Legacy
De La Hoya now owns Golden Boy Promotions—one of the biggest promotional outfits in the sport. We’ll see if he can add another layer to his greatness by changing the way business is done in boxing. As a fighter, he will go down as an all-time great. While not in the top pantheon of great champions, he did manage to win titles in 6 weight classes, while beating 20 world champions. He fought the best in the game over the span of several weight classes. Even when he lost, he made a contribution. All fighters who defeated him became stars in their own right. Love him or hate him, his contribution to the game was profound.
Each week, Big Scotty L makes picks on upcoming boxing matches in an attempt to make a punching bag out of his bookie. Scotty is a GREAT boxing handicapper who offers tremendous insight on the fights and his knowledge isn't just limited to boxing matches in the USA. He has a broad knowledge of international fights as well.
Follow Scotty each week as he previews the best fights of the week. These fight previews can be found in the center section of this page. Good luck!
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