By Greg Goodrich
BOXING PRESS EDITOR
On May 5, 2007, Oscar De La Hoya (38-4) will defend his WBC Jr. Middleweight title against reigning pound for pound kingpin and defending WBC Welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (37-0). This historic bout captioned ‘The World Awaits’ is scheduled for 12 rounds, and will be held at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Though the bout is still eight weeks away, public sentiment and media coverage are already in ‘high gear’, anticpating 2007’s most intriguing fight pitting two future Hall of Famers, whose credentials are second to none.
By every indicator, the fight may be De La Hoya’s last. Though Mayweather has stated as much, it is unlikely he will walk away from the fight game at the relatively early age of 30. Nonetheless, the bout likely will set the all time record for PPV sales, as it has already shattered the Lewis-Tyson and Holyfield-Tyson II live gate monetary records.
Ten key aspects concerning the De La Hoya-Mayweather bout will be examined, covering the fighter’s stats, similarities, styles, stamina, speed, size, strength, skills, strategy and concluding with a final piece on the showdown itself.
PART ONE: Stats of Oscar De La Hoya
Since the bout will be held for De La Hoya’s WBC Jr. Middleweight title, I will begin with ‘the Golden Boy’. Oscar De La Hoya was born February 4, 1973 in Monte-bello, California. This former 1992 Gold Medal Olympic champion stands 5’10 1/2, with a reach of 73 inches. His professional record stands 38-4, with 30 knockouts.
De La Hoya turned pro November 23, 1992 against Lamar Williams. He claimed his first title in only his 12th professional bout, when he stopped Jimmi Bredahl via 10th round TKO in March 1994 to claim the WBO Jr. Lightweight title. De La Hoya made one title defense, and then moved up in weight.
In July 1994, he stopped Jorge Paez (KO 2) to lay claim to the WBO Lightweight title. De La Hoya made three title defenses, and then met Rafael Ruelas in a World Lightweight unification bout in May 1995.
‘The Golden Boy’ stopped Ruelas quickly, efficiently and beat him in devastating fashion, laying claim to the IBF Lightweight title by 2nd round knockout.
De La Hoya passed yet another milestone when he stepped into the ring in June 1996, to face legendary Mexican icon Julio Cesar Chavez for the WBC Jr. Welterweight title. De La Hoya systematically broke down the bigger, more experienced champion and won his fourth title by 4th round TKO in a blood bath bout marking the beginning’s of the Golden Boy’s own legendary, hall of fame career.
De La Hoya again made one more title defense, and then moved up in weight to meet pound for pound and World Welterweight champion Pernell Whitaker for the WBC title in April 1997. After 12 rounds, De La Hoya was awarded a unanimous decision victory, and was now a five-time champion in four different weight classes.
De La Hoya made five title defenses before he began the process of unifying the World Welterweight title. He first met Ike Quartey in February 1999. Though Qaurtey was the WBA Champion, he was stripped shortly before the bout. De La Hoya won the bout via 12 round split decision. A seventh title defense was made; De La Hoya was the pound for pound champ.
In September 1999, Oscar De La Hoya met IBF Welterweight Champion Felix Trini-dad in a bout entitled ‘Fight of the Millennium’. This sure-fire, dead on unification bout turned out to be anti-climatic and one of the more controversial ‘big bouts’ in boxing history. Most writers, fans and critics alike agreed that De La Hoya had put on a boxing clinic, and had easily outboxed Trinidad over 12 rounds. However, De La Hoya’s tactic of running in the last 3 rounds came back to bite him. Official scorecards granted Trini-dad the victory via majority decision win, and along with it, the Undisputed World Welterweight title.
De La Hoya followed the most disappointing, embittering loss of his boxing career by meeting and defeating Derrell Coley by 7th round TKO to claim the marginal IBA Welterweight title. What followed, was an all time classic bout versus ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley for the WBC and IBA Welterweight title. After 12 close, competitive rounds, Mosley bettered De La Hoya, winning by 12 round split decision.
De La Hoya would fight once more at welterweight, thrashing and trashing the human highlight film Arturo ‘Thunder’ Gatti, via 7th round TKO. Having spent four years at 147 pounds, De La Hoya once again moved up in weight, and met WBC Jr. Middleweight champion Javier Cas-tillejo. De La Hoya became a six-time, five division champion by claiming his third WBC belt, winning the title by 12 round unanimous decision.
De La Hoya followed this bout with a grudge match and unification fight with WBA counterpart ‘Ferocious’ Fer-nando Vargas. In yet another career defining moment, De La Hoya stopped his long time nemesis via 11th round TKO. De La Hoya made one successful tite defense, laying a vicious one-handed beating upon Luis Ramon Campas (TKO 7). And then he signed to meet ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley again.
Mosley once again was awarded a decision victory over his former Olympic teammate in De La Hoya, annexing the 154 titles by 12 round unanimous decision victory.
De La Hoya moved up in weight once again to 160 pounds (six weight classes above where he started), and faced WBO Middleweight champion Felix Strum, in somewhat of a staged, orchestrated, guaranteed semi-final bout pitting him against World Middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, should he win. De La Hoya did in fact win the bout- albeit closely- and laid claim to the WBO Middleweight title and his seventh title in six weight classes. The official scores were 115-113, by all three judges. Consequently, the stage was set. Bernard Hopkins- the World, WBC, WBA and IBF Middleweight champion- was to fight Oscar De La Hoya- the WBO Middleweight champion- in the first ever undisputed, ‘all four for one’ sanctioning body unification bout.
De La Hoya more than held his own, but was stopped by a shocking, well placed body shot to liver. Hopkins became the first man to definitively beat and stop De La Hoya, winning by 9th round KO. At the time of the stoppage, Hopkins was ahead by scores of 79-73 and 78-74 to a much more accurate 77-75 lead for De La Hoya. Again, rather than quit, De La Hoya pressed on. Only this time, he went back down in weight, and met Ricardo Mayorga for the WBC Jr. Middleweight title that he has previously lost to Mosley.
In Oscar’s finest moment (likely since his first bout versus Chavez), he beat up the bully, and battered Mayorga from pillar to post, laying claim to the WBC Jr. Middleweight title for a second time, by 6th round TKO. For the third time in his career, De La Hoya shut the mouth of his loudest critic (helping Mayorga join Chavez and Vargas) as men who learned the hard way not to question De La Hoya’s toughness.
All in all, Oscar De La Hoya has won ten different titles in six weight classes. He joined Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns as the only man in boxing history to win a major, recognized title (WBC, WBA, IBF or WBO) in at least six different weight divisions. De La Hoya has defeated 21 former or current World Champions, and lost to three future Hall of Fame fighters in Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad (by disputed, majority decision); ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley (once by split decision; another time by disputed unanimous decision): and Bernard ‘The Executioner’ Hopkins.
With the exceptions of ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, and Roy Jones, Jr., no other fighter has accomplished anything close to what Oscar De La Hoya has done in the modern boxing era. It should be duly noted that De La Hoya has beaten more world champions than any man in boxing history.
When Oscar De La Hoya enters the ring this May against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. it will be his 30th championship bout, against his 25th former and/or current world champion.
Part Two to Follow: The Stats of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.