Does Oscar De La Hoya Deserve It?
By JD Camacho, (April 18, 2009)  
Oscar De La Hoya’s retirement earlier this week has been reported not just on every boxing site, but on virtually every general sports site and sports network all over the world. Floyd Mayweather Jr’s retirement last year didn’t come close to provoking the same kind of mainstream reaction. Whether that was due to the differing sincerities of the two fighters aside, none can deny that De La Hoya - especially at his peak - had a bigger effect on far more people than Mayweather ever did. De La Hoya is a beloved figure to his many fans.

Felix Trinidad, too, is beloved by his people and has attained iconic status on his native island of Puerto Rico. That status was at its apex the moment he set foot on Puerto Rican soil after returning from Las Vegas in September of 1999. Trinidad had just handed De La Hoya his first professional loss, and the people of Puerto Rico filled the streets to celebrate the occasion.

Of course, there was a controversy. De La Hoya refused to fight the last three rounds of the fight, which may have given the victory to Trinidad. Until De La Hoya’s agonizing and aching eight rounds against Manny Pacquiao last year, those three stanzas had been De La Hoya’s worst moments as a professional prizefighter.

It’s strange, then, that in the wake of his exit from boxing several members of the sports media have declared that Oscar De La Hoya deserved the win against Felix Trinidad. Boxing scribes Michael Rosenthal and Dan Rafael deftly dropped their thoughts on the Trinidad fight in their columns on De La Hoya’s retirement. Brian Kenny, before introducing De La Hoya on SPORTSCENTER, mentioned that De La Hoya “really did beat” Trinidad and “was robbed of that victory.” And Jim Rome, who barely spends any time on boxing at all, proclaimed on his show JIM ROME IS BURNING that De La Hoya defeated Trinidad and that he doesn’t “care what the judges say.”

Is this out of respect for De La Hoya and his career? Will these same sportswriters change their tune once Oscar’s retirement opera fades into the background? Do they really believe De La Hoya was robbed?

That loss was the first – and possibly the worst - stain on his record and he has said before that he regrets his decisions late that fight. What other blemish tarnishes his record more? There’s no shame in losing to a prime Shane Mosley – still a Top 5 pound-for-pound fighter today, even at 37 – in an all-action fight. And their rematch had its own set of controversies. And there’s no shame in losing to the complex and colossal (relatively speaking) Bernard Hopkins all the way up at middleweight. He fought Floyd Mayweather to arguably the closest fight Floyd’s ever been in, and losing to a dynamo like Pacquiao at the very, very end of your career wasn’t as shameful as some would like to think – even if said dynamo happens to be the smaller man.

Maybe De La Hoya smiles at all this. Maybe he appreciates that writers seem to be washing the Trinidad blemish away from his record. Maybe he really did deserve that victory so many years ago.

And maybe Felix Trinidad and the people of Puerto Rico don’t care either way. In their hearts and in their minds, De La Hoya was defeated that night.

Perhaps to them, that’s what matters most.


- On 24/7, Ricky Hatton and Billy Graham both use the past tense to describe their relationship. Hatton WAS the absolute closest bond Graham had ever formed in boxing. Graham WAS one of Hatton’s dear friends. When they used to see each other everyday, they now haven’t seen each other in almost a year. It’s sad to see such a strong relationship go sour outside the ring…

- Conclusion from HBO’s latest documentary? Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali are both angry, angry persons. One just realized it before – or is that because of? - the other…

- All this under-the-table Mayweather – Marquez dealing doesn’t get my blood flowing. Marquez – Bradley? Now you’re talkin’…

- Edwin Valero is nearly signed to fight Breidis Prescott. Two punchers? Two zeroes at the end of their records? Two top 10 rankings in their division? Sounds like a good fight to me…

- Paul Williams is scary. Seriously. That said, he himself should be scared of the Executioner if he knows what’s good for him. Even scary snakes can meet their match in wily mongooses…

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