It was twenty years ago this month (February 13th) when Oscar De La Hoya fought what may well have been his greatest fight; his finest win. It was the seriously tough battle De La Hoya had with the seriously tough Ike Quartey, a punishing high-stakes welterweight war. Just a day before Saint Valentine’s Day (hey, Sugar Ray and The Bronx Bull went to war on the exact day of the romantic holiday, after all) De La Hoya and the African with the “Bazooka” exchanged leather, knockdowns, and more leather.
The fight to point to when it comes to how the inner toughness belonging to De La Hoya belied his good looks and his easygoing charm, De La Hoya’s close win over Quartey also changed Oscar’s thinking in a big way. For though he would fight on for getting on for ten years, the Quartey fight was the one that forced “The Golden Boy” to think about doing something else with his life. As we know, Golden Boy Promotions was born in the mid-2000s. And it was the Quartey fight – one that also put him in bed for two weeks, so punishing was the showdown – that resulted in the empire that today promotes the biggest star in the sport, in Canelo Alvarez.
Years after pushing himself so hard and after being pushed by Quartey, De La Hoya recalled the fight for “The Breakfast Club:”
“I was fighting this kid, Ike Quartey, I think he was from Ghana, and he was a tough, tough son of a…..I mean, this guy was tough,” De La Hoya said. “And he hit me with everything. He dropped me twice and I think I dropped him three times; I needed the final round to win and I finally won but I couldn’t walk for like two weeks afterwards, you know, because I was so sore and it was painful. And right then and there I said to myself, ‘I need something to do after boxing’ and so what can I do? I said, you know, let me become a promoter.”
Oscar and Ike actually split four knockdowns, but De La Hoya’s recollection of the fight is pretty sound. It was a huge event (as were almost all of De La Hoya’s fights) and the 147 battle was compared by some to the classic Sugar Ray Leonard/Thomas Hearns super-fight. Perhaps it was De La Hoya’s shining moment in the ring. It was, by his own account, the fight that made him the smart business man/promoter he is today.
Now, where is the hardened, no less special Quartey these days? Oscar owes his former foe a debt of gratitude.