Oscar De La Hoya: Is the Gold Becoming Tarnished? - Boxing
By Ken Hissner (Jan 23, 2008) Doghouse Boxing  
As negotiations continue as to Oscar De La Hoya's next bout, this writer decided to take a look back at "The Golden Boy's" recent resume.  As always, there was the good, the bad, and the ugly, but the bad and the ugly stood out the most.

Four of Oscar De La Hoya's fights have ended in controversy.  Will the once Golden Boy of boxing start to tarnish his reputation as he continues to fight once a year?

It all started back in 1997 when Oscar fought Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker.  It seemed as though Whitaker took the
12th and final round off in his title defense believing he was well ahead on the scorecards.  Unfortunately for him, he was behind 116-110, 116-111 and 116-109.  I had it only by one point going into the final round in Oscar's favor.  There are those who still think that Whitaker won that fight.  There was no rematch.

The next controversial bout was with Ike Quartey in February of 1999.  This fight could not have been any closer.  They exchanged knockdowns with Oscar pulling it out in the last round on my initial scorecard.  One week later I watched the tape and thought Quartey won.  That is how close this fight was.  One thing it showed was Oscar could finish strong.

In September of 1999 Oscar defends his WBC title against IBF champion Felix Trinidad.  It was almost embarrassing the way Trinidad was following Oscar around the ring in the first half of the fight in a plodding manner.  Oscar's new style for the fight was to be backing up ala Ali, but by the 9th round he would start to slow down allowing Trinidad to win a much needed rounds.  The final judging was 115-113, 115-114 and 114-114 in favor of Felix Trinidad.  If Oscar lost the last four rounds he must have been well ahead up until that point.  This is when Oscar started blaming his corner more than usual.  He himself should have known he had to throw more punches.  I still thought he did enough to win this fight
by two points, as did most of the viewing public.

In the rematch with Sugar Shane Mosley in September of 2003, now at the higher junior middleweight limit, it seemed Oscar was much stronger than Mosley.  Still, all three judges scored it 115-113 in favor of Mosley.  Had Oscar showed too much respect for Mosley?  Enough respect that he hired him for Golden Boy Promotions avoiding a third go round.  I thought Oscar should have been the winner 115-113.

In spite of the loss to Mosley in his next fight June of 2004 he is in a higher weight class (middleweight), fighting an elimination match with Germany's Felix Sturm.  It was quite evident that the boxer with one of the best jabs in the business was out jabbed by Sturm.  It was reminiscent of former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes when he met the younger Carl "The Truth" Williams.  Like Williams, Sturm would end up on the short end of the scoring even though those at ringside did not generally agree.  All judges had it 115-113 Oscar.

If nothing else it told Oscar "You are not a middleweight, go back to 154."  But a big money bout with Hopkins went to the winner.  Even though few gave Oscar a chance with Hopkins it seemed from where I was sitting that they were taking turns winning rounds even though the judges had it 79-73, 78-74 and 77-75 for Hopkins.  Then came the famous "liver punch", which reminded some of Ali's phantom punch in his return with Sonny Liston.  Oscar goes down and pounds the canvas with his right fist not able to get up until the count reaches ten!  All of a sudden he is standing and flashing that Golden Boy smile of his.  His former promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank claimed Oscar took a dive.  It didn't matter because Hopkins was going to win this bout one way or another.  Like Mosley, Hopkins would get a job with Golden Boy Promotions.

With no fight in 2005 Oscar comes back with the perfect opponent in Ricardo Mayorga in May of 2006.  It wiped away memories of the stench from the Hopkins bout when Oscar dominated the arrogant Mayorga who never saw a jab he didn't like to eat.

This set the stage a year later for a bout with another arrogant boxer in Floyd Mayweather, Jr.  As promoter, Oscar would gross about $50 million and possibly another $20 million as his end of the purse.  If he wins there is no cry for a rematch, but if he loses and the fight is close there would eventually be a rematch if not for a year. 

In the seventh round of an otherwise even fight, Oscar took the lead on all three judges scorecards as well as mine by one point.  Suddenly to everyone's surprise he stops using his best weapon; the left jab.  He had chased Mayweather all over the ring for seven rounds, obviously too strong for the fleeting, smaller fighter.  The next four rounds saw Mayweather scoring with his jab instead of Oscar.   If Oscar had become tired like he did in the Trinidad fight, it didn't show in the 12th and last round as he not only chased Mayweather around but he won the round.  The decision was split.  Oscar got one at 115-113 but lost the other two judges scores by 115-113 and 116-112.  If he wins one of those rounds from the 8th thru the 11th he retains his title with a draw decision.  I also gave it 115-113 Mayweather.

In the ring comes HBO's Larry Merchant, who is known not to pull any punches even for the Golden Boy.  "Oscar, what happened to your jab in rounds 8 through 11?"  Oscar answered almost laughing "I don't know Larry, it sure was working earlier."  At ringside, one of his former trainers, Emmanuel Steward, now doing the commentating for this fight said, "That is not a very good answer for someone who has been around as long as Oscar."  No it wasn't, Emmanuel.  We all felt jilted in this one. 

Mayweather would return to the welterweight division and Oscar would probably take his usual year off for the people to forget what happened in this fight to his famed left jab.  Oscar again talks about continuing to fight again.  He says he will have two fights a year but it never seems to work out that way.  Mayweather this time picks on a junior welterweight who almost had his head handed to him by light hitting Louis Collazo in his only other welterweight match and doesn't seem to be much of a threat to beat Mayweather. 

I am not insinuating that Oscar has laid down (Hopkins) or even laid back (Mayweather) in two of his last three fights, but financially it has paid off for him even if he loses.  He will be 35 by the time May rolls around in 2008.  Mayorga will be the only opponent he has stopped in the last five years.  If Oscar has to make a catch weight 150 or make 147 can his body allow it and still defeat Mayweather?  Maybe he will get robbed as he did in the Mosley fight and then hire Mayweather.

This article is food for thought and continues the mystery of Oscar's close fights.  Even the Golden Boy can only go to the well so many times.  It has caught up with great fighters like Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard.  The fans deserve a better shake especially when they are dishing out over $100 million dollars as they have done in the Hopkins and Mayweather bouts.  Maybe it's time for Oscar to retire and be a full time promoter.  What do you think?

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