Oscar De La Hoya – A Legend Or Just Merely a Good Fighter?

By Boxing News - 11/04/2008 - Comments

delahoya4225224.jpgAs Oscar De La Hoya (39-5, 30 KOs) readies himself for his December 6th bout against Manny Pacquiao, I thought it was an appropriate moment to look at whether De La Hoya’s career was ultimately a successful one in contrast to other greats in boring’s past. However, after careful examination, I came to the conclusion that De La Hoya’s achievements are less than impressive when looked at carefully. His immense popularity seems to stem from his 1992 Olympic Gold medal, and his ten world titles in six separate weight classes. However, he didn’t so such a grand job after 1997, for at that point he began to look less than impressive in his fights.

In April 1997, De La Hoya won a questionable 12-round decision over Pernell Whitaker, with many boxing fans feeling that it was Whitaker who should have been given the nod in the decision rather than Oscar. Before that fight, though, between 1994 to 1997, De La Hoya was at his best fighting as a lightweight. During that time, he won the WBO and IBF lightweight titles and beat the likes of John John Molina, Rafael Ruelas, John Avila, Genaro Hernandez, Jesse James Leija, and Darryl Tyson. After De La Hoya moved up and defeated Julio Cesar Chavez to win the WBC light welterweight title, De La Hoya started to show signs of slipping as a fighter.

In his next fight after Chavez, De La Hoya struggled against Miguel Angel Gonzalez, dominating the first half of the fight but then tiring out, and fading badly in the second half of the fight. In the last six rounds, De La Hoya looked fearful, running constantly from Gonzalez and getting his left eye badly puffed up from Gonzalez’s hard shots. In the following years, De La Hoya would barely beat Ike Quartey after again fading in the latter part of the fight as he did against Gonzalez. In between were fights against the faded Chavez and Hector Camacho, both fights being essentially meaningless because they were coming past the primes of both fighters.

De La Hoya would then beat Oba Carr, a good fighter but not a great one. Then in September 1999, De La Hoya was defeated by Felix Trinidad in a 12-round majority decision loss. That fight seemed to mark the end of De La Hoya as being a truly great fighter as far as I’m concerned. Like in the Gonzalez fight, De La Hoya fought hard for the first six rounds, then tired out badly and tried running for the last six rounds.

From what I could see, De La Hoya looked more than a little frightened by Trinidad, who kept coming forward pressuring him and tagging him with left hooks and straight rights to the head. De La Hoya rightfully loss the fight, despite appearing to win the first six rounds quite easily. Things didn’t get better for De La Hoya after that, for after defeating Derrell Coley in his following bout, De La Hoya lost again, this time to Shane Mosley in a 12-round split decision loss in June 2000.

After that fight, De La Hoya seemed to steer into easier fighters against lesser foes, beating the much smaller Arturo Gatti, and then moving up to beat Javier Castillejo and an already softened up Fernando Vargas, who had been beaten two years earlier by Trinidad. De La Hoya would then take another easy fight, a 7th round TKO win against Luis Ramon Campas before fighting Mosley again and losing for a second time on September 2003. De La Hoya then moved up to middleweight and received a gift decision over Felix Sturm in June 2004 to win the WBO middleweight title.

For me, that’s got to be one of the worse decisions I’ve ever seen in my life. Sturm gave De La Hoya a beating, puffing up his face and showing that De La Hoya had no business fighting in the middleweight division. Whatever the case, De La Hoya was taken out in his next fight, a 9th round TKO to Bernard Hopkins in September 2004. Hopkins dropped De La Hoya with a body shot that left Oscar rolling around on the canvas, pounding the mat in pain and frustration.

Following that loss, De La Hoya took off two years and returned with a sixth round TKO over the faded Ricardo Mayorga. If this fight had occurred three years earlier, it would have probably been De La Hoya who was stopped rather than Mayorga. However, by the time that De La Hoya got to Mayorga, he was a mere shadow of his former 2003 championship form. De La Hoya would then return to the ring in 2007, losing a 12-round split decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The fight, much like the Trinidad bout, showed Oscar starting strong and then fading badly in the last six rounds. Finally, in De La Hoya’s last bout, a 12-round unanimous decision over a much smaller Steve Forbes, he proved that he’s good enough to beat a good B-class light welterweight – hardly the mark of an all time great, if you ask me.

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