Here We Go Again: De La Hoya Doesn't Convince All
08.06.04 – By Frank Lotierzo - GlovedFist@Juno.com - Here we go again. What is it about Oscar De La Hoya and not being able to finish a fight. It seems almost every time De La Hoya is in a Big-Spot with the World watching, he doesn't close the deal. This past weekend De La Hoya decisioned Felix Sturm to capture the WBO Middleweight title. In what is becoming an all to familiar pattern involving De La Hoya is that just as many people think he lost the fight as there are who think he won it. Yet the decision was unanimous, which came as a shock to no one.
Article posted on 08.06.2004
Now De La Hoya is slated to fight undisputed Middleweight Champ Bernard Hopkins in September. If Oscar De La Hoya was just another top ranked Middleweight, there would be no interest in this fight with Hopkins at all. However, since he is Boxing's most recognizable Superstar, the fight will go on as scheduled, as long as he still wants it too. Think about it, De La Hoya is now positioned to fight the best Middleweight in the World, yet there is still the question as to if he defeated Felix Sturm?
This is by no means a shot at Sturm, but if you check his record prior to fighting De La Hoya, of his 20 victories, there are not even a few names that are known to the most prolific Boxing observer. On top of that, Felix had only fought in either Germany or Hungary. If that's not enough, he only scored nine stoppages in 20 wins. Yet he rocked and shook De La Hoya a few times in their fight. My problem with Sturm was that he didn't get off enough to make it tougher on the judges not to give him some of the close rounds. If you know going in that winning a decision in a close fight versus a Marquee fighter is just about out of the question, than why make it easier for them to take it from you by not letting your hands go? Felix should have thrown more punches and countered more after blocking De La Hoya's shots and making him miss. Most times when the fighting is sparse, the judges will favor the fighter who is throwing, even if he is missing. It gives the impression that he's making the fight, or at least trying to.
Lastly, it was obvious that Felix Sturm is tough, but very limited. All he had to answer De La Hoya with was a stiff jab. He had no finishing punch behind it to really push Oscar. In fact Felix was at his best when he switched to fighting left-handed in the later rounds of the fight. Luckily for De La Hoya, Hopkins doesn't switch up.
I happen to like and respect De La Hoya. I think his high profile is a plus for Boxing, but the perception that he has been the benefactor in the scoring in some of his biggest fights is troubling. I think Oscar is tough and has as much heart as anybody fighting today. However, I'm becoming very frustrated with the fact that against the best opponents he's faced from 147 on up, he only has one clear-cut signature victory, Fernando Vargas.
De La Hoya's is probably Boxing's most high profile fighter since the decline of Mike Tyson. He also has sought to fight the best of his era during his title reign. The problem is that his detractors can make just as convincing of a case that he could possibly have six loses on his record, Mosley twice, Whitaker, Quartey, Trinidad, and now Sturm. Oscar just seems to fight just enough to sway the judges, but not the viewing public. What's really amazing about that is the fact that his upcoming fight versus Bernard Hopkins will most likely set a PPV record for a non Heavyweight fight.
I commend Oscar for seeking out to fight the best of the best. On the other hand it's frustrating that he doesn't put anybody away above Welterweight. It's getting harder to defend him regarding his showing in some of his biggest fights. In my opinion he has only been defeated once in the ring, the first Mosley fight. Yet I have no problem with those who think he was nipped by Quartey and Mosley the second time. In my opinion he definitely beat Trinidad, the Whitaker fight was a draw and neither fighter really deserved the decision. As far as his last fight with Sturm, I had him up by a point or two. Mainly because I'll favor the fighter who's throwing more in a fight that neither is really taking over or controlling.
Oscar had two really close calls at 147, Whitaker and Quartey. Again, in my opinion he beat Trinidad the night they fought. Against Mosley at 154 it was death and Taxes, and against Sturm at 160, it was razor close. Oscar's legacy is slowly becoming that he can't beat any of the upper tier fighters of his era without possibly some help from the officials. That may not be fair, but the perception does exist. It seems every fight goes the limit without settling a whole lot.
In September he will face the best fighter he's ever shared a ring with, Bernard Hopkins. Although I don't think De La Hoya will be humiliated, I can't envision him winning, and it looks like it won't be left up to the judges.
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