Did De La Hoya Make a Mistake By Fighting Chavez?
By Dave Lahr: It seems as if Oscar De La Hoya will never be forgiven by some Mexican boxing fans after beating an old Julio Cesar Chavez twice earlier in Oscar’s career in 1996 and then again in 1998. In both fights, Chavez’s face was badly cut up, making it necessary for the bouts to be stopped. De La Hoya was only 23 when he first fought Chavez, and at the peak of his career. De La Hoya had captured the WBO and IBF lightweight titles a short period of time before the fight.
De La Hoya was moving up in weight to challenge the bigger Chavez for his WBC light welterweight title. By then, Chavez was no longer unbeaten, having been defeated by Frankie Randall not long ago. De Hoya had previously worshiped Chavez as an idol, which made the fight seem like a really bad idea.
However, because of the big money involved in the fight, De La Hoya chose to take the fight. As one would expect, De La Hoya was way too fast for the 34-year-old Chavez and ripped him to pieces with jabs and fast combinations. By the 4th round, Chavez’s face was a bloody mess, making it necessary for the bout to be stopped.
Although Chavez wasn’t considered old by a heavyweight’s standard at 34, he was an old 34, much like the way that Oscar is now an old 36. It was a mismatch all the way with Chavez landing very few punches during the fight. Chavez being a proud warrior, wanted a rematch with De La Hoya.
Instead of doing the smart thing and declining to save Chavez from taking another beating, De La Hoya gave Chavez a rematch two years later in 1998. By then Chavez was 36, a mere shadow of his once great self, and in no way ready to take on the young, 25-year-old De La Hoya.
This time De La Hoya beat him even worse, tattooing Chavez’s face with hard hooks, uppercuts, jabs and right hands for eight long rounds before it was ultimately stopped due to cuts on Chavez’s face. Although Chavez didn’t retire after this fight and continued to fight on for seven more years, it was the beginning of the end for Chavez.
For De La Hoya, it created a lot bad blood in the Mexican community, because fans had worshiped Chavez for years and didn’t like their hero defeated by a young star like De La Hoya. In hindsight, it seemed like a bad choice for De La Hoya to take the fight and it seemed to get him off on the wrong foot with many Mexican fans that might have become fans of his if he hadn’t made the wrong choice of fighting Chavez at this point in his career.
When it came for De La Hoya’s turn to take on a young Mexican fighter in Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Antonio Margarito, De La Hoya chose to fight the smaller Manny Pacquiao instead. This also didn’t sit well with Mexican fans, who wondered why De La Hoya had selected a smaller fighter to fight rather than someone his own size in Margarito or Chavez Jr.
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