by Alan J Kindred - I remember watching De La Hoya struggle in the 1992 olympic gold medal match vs Marco Rudolph an opponent who had beaten him before. My friend and I watched and hoped Oscar could pull it out and get a gold for the United States because the rest of the team had fallen way short of expectations. In the third round of a tight match Oscar cracked a wicked punch of the side of Rudolph's head and he went down. I knew immediately he had it, that would be enough to clinch the decision and it was. Oscar De La Hoya at 19 was the only gold medalist for the United States in the 1992 olympics.
From the start it should of been obvious he was going to be a star. His loving mother dying from cancer wishing upon a star that her son return with a gold medal along with Oscar's striking good looks and striking left hook left the recipe for superstardom for the public to love.. He had his share of followers and haters from the birth of his career. Even this writer had great skepticism and a fair amount of jealousy. I too was a boxer in my day but was to lazy to train and maybe was living through Oscar a bit vicariously. Here is a gold medalist with great skill and even better looks who isn't going to be a bit hating when they wish they could have what his gifts were. Oscar had to earn my loyalty as a fan and with very hard work he did. When he took the fight with Ike Quartey a bit of my hating died right then.
Prior to the Quartey fight De La Hoya's career appeared to be nicely well managed by Bob Arum by fighting the fighters at precisely the right time. Seeming to avoid strong challenges favoring faded name fighters. However Quartey at the time of the fight was about as huge of a challenge as Oscar could of taken. So I started to like Oscar after I heard he signed for that fight. The fight itself was even better for Oscar. I know many experts claim Quartey should of gotten the decision and they are wrong. I've watch that fight many times and being the BoxingGuru that I am I've scored it perfectly. Going into the 12th round Quartey was leading by two points. De La Hoya dropped Quartey(making it 10-8 right there) and then continued to batter Ike along the ropes in a fashion many a referees would have stopped the contest(extra point) to win the contest in a narrow edge of a win. A truly great welterweight fight in earning my life long respect for Oscar.
I was biased in the beginning due to my own shallow jealousy but after my eyes cleared and I looked at Oscar's career objectively here is what I see. First of all unlike many prospects Oscar De La Hoya has never fought a fighter with a losing record. In fact only 8 fights in his career he fights a fighter with world title experience.
I remember annoucers saying remember Mike Grable for he will be the answer to a trivia question one day. I remember Oscar nearly decapitating featherweight icon Jorge Paez even when announcing great and knowledgable Al Berstein stated Paez had a great chance. I remember Oscar's 130 pound title win vs the running Bredahl. I remember when John John Molina gave Oscar his first true fight but Oscar prevailed. I also remember when Oscar De La Hoya's star first started to shine brightly and I believe it is his true prime at 135 during this time period. He destroys three good opponents like they're nothing. Rafael Ruelas, Genero Hernandez, and Jesse James Leija. 105-2-3 record for those three. Absolute Steamrolls them. Oscar De La Hoya is one of the best ever lightweights in the history of the sport. At Jr Welterweight he continued to take scalps M.A. Gonzalez was undefeated and J.C. Chavez just had the 1 loss vs Randall and the draw vs Whitiker. So 140 lbs and under Oscar simply crushed everyone he ever fought. At Welterweight he proved his true greatness.
In Oscars first bout at 147 it was vs great Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitiker. Oscar's first controversial fight. Many experts believe Whitiker should of got the decision. The reality of that bout is that it was a draw. You can go watch it again and score it but neither man won that fight it was that tight. I know there was a knockdown and I also know there were a few even rounds in that fight. I also know Pernell's best days were already past him. As were Hector Camcho's and again Julio Cesar Chavez best days as well long gone. So that is why I was so excited for the Quartey fight. Oscar pulled it out in his greatest fight of his career. Some could say vs Vargas but I like the Quartey fight.
As honest as I was about the Whitiker fight I'll be as honest about the Trinidad fight. Oscar won a small margin or it was a draw but no way did Trinidad do enough to win that one. I was pissed about that one....at both guys. Expecting Leonard-Hearns and getting not that at all. Still though Trinindad didn't win that fight. He may of got a draw but no way is it a win. I think Oscar slid it out by a thread.
Shane Mosely beat Oscar in there first fight. Oscar won the first 5 rounds only to get tired and allow Shane to win the next 7. There second fight was to close to call probably should be a draw. No contest maybe if Shane was Balcoing it. I'm glad they are friends now it shows great class from both guys.
Fernando Vargas beware what you wish for...because not only will you have to fight Oscar but you'll have to fight his friends too...( I'm a big Vargas fan thats a joke). A great rivalry between Oscar and Vargas though.
Oscar beware what you wish for too, but I promise you this I was rooting my ass off for you to outbox Bernard Hopkins but...you know Bernard is a bad dude no shame.
One more truth be told though Oscar did get a gift vs Felix Sturm. A close one but Sturm deserved that.
The last hurrah was vs Ricardo Mayorga. I was worried for Oscar. Oscar came out and whipped that ass for his 10th and last title. Left hook still there after all those years.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. had one of his two closest fight vs Oscar De La Hoya so don't forget that.
Forget Oscar looking depleted and drained vs Manny Pacquiao because I do remember the 135 version of De La Hoya destroying Ruelas and he would of handled Manny just fine.
I remember Oscar De La Hoya. I saw him in the olympics. I saw him on USA. I saw him on HBO. Some say he is overhyped and overrated. There will always be haters I guess. I used to be one. Truth be told though Oscar De La Hoya is a top 5 all-time 135 and a top 10 all-time 140 even if 147 is where he left his mark. I'll miss him going balls to the wall punishing Ike Quartey on the ropes in the final round. I'm glad he will be taking Don Kings place and he probably already has done that. Thanks Oscar for giving it your all. We all love you Gladiator.