The fight was dubbed “Redemption,” yet Oscar De La Hoya did not get what he wanted. So much so, that De La Hoya filed an official protest after the fight. It was Sugar Shane Mosley Vs. Oscar De La Hoya II. It was big, it was controversial and it was highly debated.
These two shining stars had met three years earlier, in a great fight down at welterweight. On that occasion, Mosley, with his blinding speed, speed he had taken up with him from the 135 pound division, had won a clear 12 round decision. The rematch, over three years in the making and contested up at 154 pounds, was far closer.
De La Hoya had smashed Fernando Vargas the year before, in a most satisfying victory, whereas Mosley had lost twice to Vernon Forrest in 2002 and he had not won a fight since. De La Hoya was expected by quite a few fans and experts to indeed get his redemption for the 2000 defeat. The return took place at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas and a huge crowd, which was made up of quite a few celebrities and other great fighters either retired or active (Thomas Hearns was there, as was Evander Holyfield, George Foreman (doing commentary for HBO), even the great Budd Schulberg).
Indeed it was a big event (and this writer’s first ever fight at ringside in Vegas!). A young Miguel Cotto appeared in the under-card and then the main event got underway. It was no classic fight, instead an intense game of chess. De La Hoya had a good start, then faded (again) in the later rounds and neither man was notably hurt or wobbled. Neither man came close to suffering a knockdown. But who had done enough?
In terms of punch-stats, Oscar was the man on top; both throwing more and landing more. But seldom do these numbers tell the full story. It was a close fight, no doubt about it (in fact the closeness of the fight was the only thing everyone agreed on). In the end, all three judges had it the same way, at 115-113 for Mosley. De La Hoya was furious, Mosley appeared stunned when the verdict was announced in his favor.
And then De La Hoya announced how he would file his official protest. It was poor sportsmanship in the opinion of plenty, even if the protest achieved nothing. Mosley was back on top, for now. Soon enough this proud champion who never ducked anyone would fall to the bag of tricks belonging to Ronald “Winky” Wright. De La Hoya moved onwards and upwards – as in up in weight. Oscar challenged the great Bernard Hopkins for the middleweight crown a year after losing to Mosley.
Not too long after Hopkins’ liver shot had landed, De La Hoya, Hopkins and Mosley got together to form Golden Boy Promotions. The once bitter rivals had come together.