A Look Back At Oscar De La Hoya's Career

Oscar De La HoyaDoveed Linder: Itís a time of transition in the sport of boxing. The young up-and-coming fighters will soon be taking over and the great fighters of the last ten years have just about reached the end of the line. Roy Jones, Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley, and Vernon Forrest are still in the game, but itís just a matter of time before they reach the inevitable destination of retirement and are forced to pass the torch along to the next generation. Oscar De La Hoya is among the first of his generation to officially announce his retirement.

When Oscar first came onto the scene, most everybody liked his personality and respected him as a fighter. He was, after all, the ďGolden Boy.Ē He had just won the gold medal and he had a golden personality to go along with it. Even people outside of the boxing game knew who he was, which is unusual for a fighter who isnít a heavyweight. Oscar was something of an ambassador to the sport and he represented it well..

On his rise to the top, Oscar defeated numerous respectable opponents such as John John Molina, Rafael Ruelas, Genaro Hernandez, Jesse James Leija, Julio Cesar Chavez, Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Pernell Whitaker, Hector Camacho, and Ike Quartey. It was during this time that many considered him the best fighter in the world. He remained undefeated until he faced Felix Trinidad, also an undefeated fighter. Oscar lost a decision, though quite a few people thought he had won.

Following the fight with Trinidad, Oscar fought and knocked out a relatively unknown fighter named Derrell Coley, then moved on to face Shane Mosley. Oscar started out strong, but Mosley managed to out-hustle him down the stretch, handing ďThe Golden BoyĒ his first convincing loss.

Oscar took a little time off from boxing after the Mosley fight, then bounced back and scored a TKO over Arturo Gatti and a unanimous decision over Javier Catillejo. He then signed up for a grudge match against Fernando Vargas and won via TKO in the 11th round, which was his biggest victory since Ike Quartey.

The following year, Oscar fought and defeated Yori Boy Campus in a rather insignificant match up, before challenging Shane Mosley for a second time. He did much better against Mosley this time around, but he lost a close, and in the eyes of many, controversial decision.

The next significant move for Oscar was a mega fight against Bernard Hopkins. But first, he took a ďtune-upĒ against Felix Sturm as a way to hype the Hopkins fight and adjust to the 160 pound weight division. Oscar won a decision against Sturm, but most people watching thought he lost. Nevertheless, Oscar moved forward with the Hopkins fight, but was knocked out by a body shot in the 9th round.

Clearly, the middleweight division wasnít for Oscar, so he moved down to junior middleweight and took on Ricardo Mayorga, scoring a 6th round TKO after dominating the slugger from Nicaragua like no one had before. Oscarís next match came against pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in one of the most hyped fights in the last ten years. As with many of Oscarís high profile fights, he was very competitive early on, but he lost a decision due to inactivity in the championship rounds. Oscar followed up the Mayweather fight with a tune-up against a good fighter in Steve Forbes, which he won fairly easily. He then signed up to fight Philippine sensation Manny Pacquiao.

The Pacquiao fight was the last time boxing fans saw Oscar in the ring. On this night, Oscar was given the worst beating he has ever taken. From the 1st round on he was completely out-gunned and was constantly beat to the punch in every exchange. In the 7th and 8th rounds, he was sitting in the corner taking unnecessary punishment. By the end of the 8th, he decided that he had enough.

When you look back, itís fair to say that Oscar has had a great career. Many think that he won some undeserving decisions along the way, particularly against Pernell Whitaker, Ike Quartey, and Felix Sturm. But the same argument could be made on his behalf in the fight with Felix Trinidad and his second fight with Shane Mosley. In the end, it all balances out and he deserves to take credit for everything he has accomplished. Heís won world titles in six different weight classes, heís a future Hall of Famer, and he can be mentioned in the same sentence as the other great fighters of his era.

But as Oscarís career progressed, particularly after his first fight with Mosley, he began taking on projects outside of boxing and spreading himself thin. He dabbled with a singing career and started a promotional company of his own. Itís okay for a boxer to have a healthy distraction outside of the sport, but to maintain the edge that a top level fighter needs to remain a serious factor requires more time and attention than he has been willing to give during the later part of his career.

Oscar De La Hoya has done very well for himself as a fighter and he is now having a great deal of success as a promoter. His company, Golden Boy Promotions, is signing big fighters all the time and staging some of the gameís most significant events. Now that Oscar has officially announced his retirement, he can devote all of his time to promoting fights and still have a strong presence in the game. The decision to retire was a wise one, as the future holds many possibilities for him and itís not necessary for him to continue fighting. He could still win a few fights, but he has nothing more to prove and he should enjoy his retirement from the ring with a great deal of pride.

Article posted on 15.04.2009

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