View Full Version : Hopkins laatste tegenstander De la Hoya?

01-09-2004, 19:09

The Last De La Hurrah?
By Sean Stowell (September 1, 2004)
How long Oscar De La Hoya plans on being an active fighter seems to change about as often as Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's opinion on policy issues.

While Kerry's opposition has taken over New York City and the airwaves during the Republican National Convention, one of boxing's great politicians of all-time held court with the assembled media during a conference call Tuesday afternoon to discuss his September 18 bout against Bernard Hopkins for the undisputed middleweight championship.
Like a polished elected official, De La Hoya chose his words carefully when saying that this fight with Hopkins is going to be one of his last, and rematches with Felix Trinidad and Shane Mosley probably won't happen.

"This is the fight of my life," De La Hoya said from his Big Bear, Calif., training complex. "Every time I work out at the gym I leave a part of myself there. I'm winding down; this is the last big hoorah.

"I may not have the hunger for rematches with Trinidad and Mosley. It doesn't get any bigger than this fight with Hopkins. No other fight will motivate me after this one."

This has been a consistent statement from De La Hoya throughout his career. Over the years he's talked about pursuing architecture, golf, music (his self-titled album released in 2000 was nominated for a Latin Grammy). Who could blame the guy? He's got tons of money, he's only 31-years-old, and belting out a tune is a lot easier on the body than getting belted by a fist.

Marvin Hagler said it best when he said it's tough to get up in the morning when you are sleeping on silk sheets. De La Hoya, 37-3 with 29 KOs, has accomplished just about everything there is for a fighter to accomplish in boxing, from an Olympic gold medal to winning eight world titles. He is also one of the few names that transcend the sport and that is immediately recognizable to the general public.

In the past he has said he'd like to have another crack at Trinidad, who gave the "Golden Boy" his first taste of defeat in 1999. Trinidad would go on to lose to Bernard Hopkins two years later and would retire from the sport soon after. De La Hoya even went to Puerto Rico to coax the former champion back into action for a rematch of the controversial first fight in which De La Hoya started strong but boxed cautiously in the later rounds, losing the last four on one judge's scorecard and three of four on the other two judges' cards.

Of course Mosley has defeated De La Hoya twice, and the second meeting was another controversial decision. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Mosley 115-113, but many observers felt differently. De La Hoya wanted an investigation into the scoring, but he has since accepted the defeat.

Recently his hunger for victory, or lack thereof, has been evident, as he has seemed to fight down to the level of his competition

In his last outing nearly three months ago against WBO middleweight titleholder Felix Sturm, it was obvious De La Hoya wasn't motivated for the fight even though a shot at Hopkins was around the corner and a minimum of $27 million was on the table. The sport's biggest attraction looked doughy when he stripped off his robe, his protective cup rode high over his belly and rolls formed in his stomach when he sat down between rounds. He took a lackluster unanimous decision over Sturm and would later tell HBO's Larry Merchant: "everything went wrong tonight."

He's put a positive spin on the Sturm fight, calling it a blessing, and said he learned a lot from his performance.

"Things happen for a reason," De La Hoya said. "The Sturm fight taught me a lot. You will see a whole different Oscar on September 18."

When the level of competition is ratcheted up, the De La Hoya that sells out arenas and whose pay-per-view dates garner nearly one million buys, shows up.

This was never more the case than when he fought Fernando Vargas in 2002. The two had a confrontation at a press conference and Vargas had been tormenting De La Hoya for years. All the bad blood stemmed from an alleged incident in Big Bear, in which Vargas, who was an amateur at the time, felt De La Hoya disrespected him.

De La Hoya would go on to drop Vargas in the 11th round and later proclaimed: "I know this sounds kind of brutal, but when I saw his blood, I wanted more."

De La Hoya said anger is a good motivator for fights, but against Hopkins he only dislikes the fact that the "Executioner" is trying to hurt him.

"If there is a fighter I hate and can't stand then anger works," he said. "Just the thought of fighting Hopkins gets me pumped up. He's been a bully for so long, but there's not any hatred towards him. I don't even know the guy. He does want to take my head off, so in that way I hate him."

Though he was vague on how he would defeat Hopkins, De La Hoya did say his left hand will be the key to victory.

"The key to winning is my jab, left hook, and left uppercut," he said. "My right is the icing on the cake."

He then went on to say that while reviewing tapes of some of Hopkins' past fights, especially against Roy Jones, Jr., he was vulnerable to right hands.

"He's got a lot of vulnerabilities," De La Hoya continued. "Whether it's right hands or left hooks, something has got to work."

When asked if he plans on using his right hand more in this fight, something he has improved upon since employing Floyd Mayweather, Sr., as his trainer, De La Hoya tiptoed around the question, like the clever politician.

"I can't talk about strategy," De La Hoya said with a slight laugh. "I have to throw you guys some curve balls."

So, is this his last big hurrah? It's doubtful, because despite all his outside interests, nothing can quench his thirst like a big-time fight with Trinidad or Mosley. He's probably just throwing us another curve ball.

01-09-2004, 19:12
Advantage De La Hoya
By Krishen Rangi (September 1, 2004)

Oscar De La Hoya
Armed with a gold medal from the 1992 Olympics, Oscar De La Hoya’s welcome into the realm of professional boxing was with an assumption of greatness and in a manner never before seen. A contract from HBO, countless magazine covers, and a massive fanbase, all contributed to De La Hoya being anointed to greatness long before he achieved anything significant with his fists. To this cushioned backdrop, the impact on De La Hoya’s career has been staggerring, from his arrogance in matchmaking to his apprehensiveness when faced with any real danger.

De La Hoya has had six superfights in his career: Pernell Whitaker, Ike Quartey, Felix Trinidad, Fernando Vargas and Shane Mosely (twice). With the exception of an emaciated Vargas, De La Hoya has never clearly won or lost any of these fights. (The first Mosley fight was the closest De La Hoya came to clearly losing and even here he was only outboxed.) De La Hoya lovers and haters can argue day and night about whether he was the skilled champion or the gutless loser.

This trend of ambiguity is not a coincidence. Unlike his opponents, De La Hoya walks into the ring already 'great'. His only imperative is to maintain his 'greatness', something that can be accomplished so long as he does not lose convincingly. This phenomenon, perhaps more than anything else, raises the ire of De La Hoya haters. De La Hoya seems to use his 'greatness' as a shield rather than a sword. Boxing fans want to see a fighter who risks life and limb to achieve legendary status. They want De La Hoya to prove his greatness in the ring by taking risks that all great fighters take. Throughout his career De La Hoya has constantly shunned those risks. With De La Hoya it has always seemed like he was protecting something rather than taking it. Even in the 12th round against Quartey, De La Hoya’s furious rally came off more like a last ditch attempt to preserve his legacy rather than create one.

De La Hoya’s ambiguous record in superfights has been crucial in preserving his marketability. Despite three losses his fans point to the fact that each one could and even should have been a victory. De La Hoya critics, on the other hand, circle like sharks salivating at the prospect of witnessing that elusive beating that De La Hoya has yet avoided.

Many, including ardent De La Hoya supporters, believe that the beating is finally at hand. De La Hoya himself has stated that his life could be in danger. The hype machine is churning full speed: September 18th could be the end of Oscar De La Hoya’s twelve year tease.

Advantage De La Hoya.

Unlike any of his previous superfights, De La Hoya has everything in his favor. Normally De La Hoya fights knowing that an ambiguous outcome will preserve his legacy. A knockout win or loss could greatly enhance or destroy his legend but De La Hoya, as he has shown on countless occasions, prefers the safe bet of preservation.

Against Hopkins, however, De La Hoya will be judged on a much lower standard. This time if De La Hoya can manage to make the result ambiguous his legacy will be enhanced. A repeat of his performances against Whitaker, Quartey, Trinidad and Mosley would be looked upon as an incredible achievement. If there is even a shred of controversy or proximity on the scorecards then De La Hoya will almost unanimously walk away the real winner. Moreover, if De La Hoya were to somehow actually win the fight, his legend would skyrocket into another stratosphere.

Against this setting, in addition to the fact that he is earning $30 million against a 40-year-old man with no real speed or power, it is clearly the shrewdest move of De La Hoya’s career.

By deliberately stacking the odds against himself De La Hoya has managed to do the impossible. Rather than conforming to the standard of greatness, he has managed to make greatness conform to him.

01-09-2004, 19:14

Don't Underestimate Oscar De La Hoya
By Tom Dickey (September 1, 2004)

Photo © Chris Farina
There was once an old Boxing saying, "Never underestimate the heart of a champion." This saying should be applied to Oscar De la Hoya, who will be fighting for the Undisputed Middleweight title against Bernard Hopkins on September 18th. I have been amazed after reading numerous write ups and comments on this fight, that hardly anybody is giving Oscar De la Hoya a chance in this fight.

This is a man who has been a world champion at five different weight classes. This is a man who has been in the ring with some of the world's greatest fighters over his career, and even in defeat has never been soundly beaten. Now don't get me wrong Bernard Hopkins is a great fighter, maybe one of the greatest Middleweights of all time. But, Oscar is not too bad himself.

One of the explanations I have seen for why Oscar will lose is that Hopkins is too big for him. Remember Oscar started at 130 pounds, he's been moving up in weight his whole career. He has been hearing this his whole career, and it has not been much of a problem yet. Another explanation I hear is that Oscar is on his way down, just look at his last fight against Felix Sturm. First off Sturm was underrated, and Hopkins was the first to say that they were both fighting overcautiously on that card, because there was so much to lose with their mega fight on the horizon.

This is probably the first time in Oscar De la Hoya's career that he will be the underdog in the fight. You think that's not motivating for Oscar. Look at his past fights, when people were having doubts about him. Remember Fernando Vargas, many thought Vargas might overpower Oscar. Many wondered how Oscar would control his anger towards Vargas, and how he would handle people doubting him. Well, he bottled all the anger and doubts up into one of his greatest fights of his career. When Oscar is focused, he's a tough guy to beat. In the second Shane Mosley fight, Oscar was focused and boxed beautifully. Most would agree that he won that fight also.

Oscar has always done well in mega fights. Look at Vargas, his bouts against Julio Cesar Chavez, and the second Mosley fight. Even the fight against Felix Trinidad, Oscar was controlling the fight until he got passive guarding a big lead. Do you think he would do that against Hopkins and do you think he has not learned from that?

Oscar has always been at his best when his back has been up against the wall. I point to the Vargas fight again. Going further back in his career in 1994, Oscar suffered his first ever knockdown to little known Giorgio Campanella in the first round. Oscar responded by knocking Campanella down in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, finishing off Campanella in the 3rd round.

Go back to 1997 against Pernell Whitaker, Oscar went down in the 9th round. After this knockdown, he flurried back in the remaining rounds and won the fight.

Oscar has always rebounded well after lackluster fights, like the one he had with Felix Sturm. After his fight with Whitaker, in which he narrowly won, Oscar came back to knockout David Kamau in his next fight. After a close call with Ike Quartey, Oscar came back to knock out Oba Carr in his next fight. After the loss to Trinidad, Oscar came back to knock out Derrell Coley in his next fight. After the first Mosley loss, he came back to TKO Arturo Gatti in his next fight. Oscar is a veteran at rebounding, and seems to be at his best when people are starting to doubt him, which is exactly what is happening going into this fight with Hopkins.

There is no doubt in my mind that this will be a hard fight for Oscar de la Hoya to win. Bernhard Hopkins is a great champion, and seems to know every Boxing trick in the book. Maybe the weight, and maybe the experience and savvy of Hopkins will be too much for Oscar. But, again I will remind all the people who will be watching the fight on September 18th, "Never underestimate the heart of a champion".

02-09-2004, 10:51
This could indeed be De La Hoya's last fight. Hopkins is the one opponent still of interest to Oscar. Oscar doesn't need to fight through the ranks to collect any more titles. So this one is all about the challenge, recognition and a little bit of money of course. Whatever the outcome, Oscar doesn't have to fight anybody else after this one. The fact that he's actually challenging Hopkins is enough recognition already as far as I'm concerned.

However, never say never in boxing of course. Let's think outside the box for a minute. Roy Jones Jr recently mentioned that he's moving back to 168 pounds and he will be watching the outcome of this one with great personal interest as well. Whatever the outcome of this fight, if the winner could meet Roy Jones Jr somewhere half-way that would be the biggest thing yet. Especially if Oscar would win. I know Oscar has been moving up a lot in weight but just maybe he could do the same things Sugar Ray and Tommy Hearns did and move all the way up to super-middle (or even light-heavy?).

I know it's not likely to happen, but if the challenge and the money is there who says this fight couldn't be made? After all, these two guys have been by far the biggest two names in boxing for the last decade. 8)