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The Golden Boy Calls It A Day
NEW YORK — In a startling announcement, “The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya has decided to retire as an active fighter. De La Hoya ended his 16-year career that led him to become the richest fighter in the history of the sport. After more than $700 million dollars generated in career purses, De La Hoya retired as the Pay-Per-View king.
De La Hoya’s longevity and consistency as a fighter allowed him to become bigger than Mike Tyson. At at age 36, he retires with a remarkable professional career record of 39-6, 30 KOs.
“It was a very emotional and difficult decision for me to make,” De La Hoya told the world wide press during a conference call on Tuesday. “I’m retiring from being an active fighter. It’s not easy talking about it. Every time I mention it, it reminds me that [boxing] was my life.”
To know that I won’t be lacing up the gloves,” De La Hoya added, “to know that I won’t be having that adrenaline rush when I fight will be difficult.”
Whether you believe De La Hoya was great fighter, overrated, or simply a box-office attraction, De La Hoya is a lock for the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
De La Hoya was already inducted in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame as of 2008. De La Hoya was a stellar amateur boxer having won at least 220 bouts against only 6 losses. De La Hoya won a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics after promising his dying mother.
De La Hoya made his professional debut on November 23, 1992 as a lightweight by knocking out Lamar Williams in the first round. Afterwards, he won every major world championship in boxing as a lightweight, junior welterweight, welterweight, super welterweight, and middleweight.
At 5-foot-10, De La Hoya was considered a towering and overpowering lightweight. He starched Rafael Ruelas (TKO 2), forced Genaro Hernandez (TKO 6) to quit, pummeled Jessie James Leija (KO 2), Jorge Paez (KO 2), and soundly beat John-John Molina (W 12) in a rough battle. All of whom were quality fighters.
De La Hoya made a brief stop in the junior welterweight class where he pummeled Julio Cesar Chavez to a bloody pulp to capture the WBC 140-pound championship in June 1996.
It was the biggest fight in boxing at the time. De La Hoya constantly jabbed Chavez which opened a severe laceration above his left eye. De La Hoya ripped combinations through a vision impaired Chavez, as the bout was stopped after the fourth round.
De La Hoya would force Chavez to quit after the eighth round in a 1998 rematch for the WBC welterweight championship. His best years was the time he spend most of his career competing as a welterweight. De La Hoya unseated Pernell Whitaker for the WBC 147-pound title in April 1997, but not without controversy.
Many believed that either Whitaker should have been granted a decision or the bout should have been ruled a draw. Some believed De La Hoya deserved to win because he pressed the action, while Whiatker was clowning around.
De La Hoya-Whitaker never signed for a rematch. Even though the boxing community were split as to who won, no one was interested in watching De La Hoya and Whitaker struggle to “miss” each other for another twelve rounds.
In 1997, De La Hoya fought five times and was a perfect 5-0, 2 KOs. De La Hoya won decisions against Whitaker, Miguel Angel Gonzalez, and Hector “Macho” Camacho before stopping David Kamau (KO 2) and Wilfredo Rivera (TKO 8).
In February 1999, De La Hoya showed resolve by coming up off the canvas to drop an unbeaten WBA welterweight champion in Ike Quartey. The fight was hanging in the balance, De La Hoya nearly KO’d Quartey after bullish flurry against the ropes in the final round. De La Hoya was awarded a 12-round split decision.
In September 1999, De La Hoya fought Felix Trinidad in one of the biggest welterweight title fights in history since the first meeting between Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns.
De La Hoya proved his greatness once more after boxing beautifully against one of the hardest welterweight punchers in history. He was virtually untouchable for nine rounds, but danced his way toward the final round in the 12th before losing a disputed majority decision.
In June 2000, De La Hoya accepted the challenge of another hungry, determined, and unbeaten fighter in Sugar Shane Mosley. Although De La Hoya lost, via 12-round split decision, it was a sensational fight between two fighters in their prime. The action was fast-paced and electrifying.
The combination exchanges were sharp, crisp, solid, and echoed throughout the arena.
De La Hoya continued his marvel ands sometimes controversial career as a super welterweight. De La Hoya beat Francisco Javier Castillejo to win the WBC 154-pound title in June 2001 before finally signing to fight old rival Fernando Vargas to unify the WBC/WBA titles in the following year.
In September 2002, De La Hoya engaged Vargas in a compelling and brutal fight that saw an angry, aggressive, and fierce Golden Boy use his famous left hook and trademark flurries to topple Vargas in the eleventh round.
Afterwards, Vargas failed a post-fight drug test to even make De La Hoya’s win more satisfying.
Following the Vargas fight, De La Hoya would fight only eight more times. His performances and activity level would grow inconsistent. In 2003, De La Hoya would lose to Mosley in a disputed rematch at 154 pounds.
It was later known that Mosley worked with Victor Conte and his steroid ravaged BALCO firm whose clients included steroid users Marion Jones and Barry Bonds.
De La Hoya looked “fat” and laughable after winning a controversial “gift” decision against an unbeaten WBO middleweight champion Felix Sturm in June 2004.
Following the Sturm “gift,” De La Hoya was surprisingly KO’d three months later by Bernard Hopkins, who became to first fighter to unify the IBF/WBC/WBA and WBO middleweight championships.
De La Hoya returned in May 2006 to capture the WBC junior middleweight championship by scoring a spectacular fifth round knockout of Ricardo Mayorga in a heated grudge match. Aside from the Vargas win, this may have been Oscar at his angriest because of Mayorga’s insulting rants.
It was certainly one of The Golden Boy’s most memorable performances.
De La Hoya ended his career losing two of his last three fights — both losses to the world’s No. 1 fighter on the pound-for-pound list. He dropped a split decision to Floyd Mayweather in May 2007. Even though he beat Steve Forbes (W 12) in May 2008, De La Hoya got scratched and bruised by a smaller fighter.
De La Hoya’s end came in December 2008, as Many Pacquiao moved up two-weight divisions from lightweight to pummel the much larger De La Hoya like a punching bag.
He didn’t have an answer for Pacquiao’s speed, power, and aggression. It wasn’t the same Oscar we grew accustomed to. De La Hoya was uncompetitive and opted to quit on is stool after the eighth round.
“It hurts me to know that I can’t compete at the highest level anymore,” De La Hoya shared. “It’s not fair to the fans. I’m not the same fighter that they grew-up watching. I’m firm on this decision. I’m never, ever coming back.”
De La Hoya was a terrific fighter and he became an example as to how fighters should conduct themselves as professional fighters and businessmen. De La Hoya was no saint, as he did play music chairs with established professional trainers. De La Hoya wasn’t discussed kindly by the media every time he was often chastised.
De La Hoya made a lot of people money and proved to be a much needed positive for the sport. De La Hoya always embraced his loyal following — his fans which was always first and foremost. De La Hoya always made sure his fans — rich or poor — had an opportunity to see him.
“My career has been nothing short of magical and I am forever grateful to all of the people who made it possible,” De La Hoya added. “Most importantly I deeply appreciate all of my fans who showered me with their cheers and support, consistently holding me up throughout my 17-year professional career.”
“I believe the true meaning of my career was not in the winning or losing, but in the gift of sharing my fights with all of them, as I never imagined it would mean so much to so many. It has been an honor to fight all of my fights for each and every one of you.”