De La Hoya to beat Hopkins? It can be done
By Rob Scott (September 9, 2004) 
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The clock is ticking and before we know it, the bell will be sounding for the much anticipated 'Undisputed' middleweight championship encounter between Bernard 'The Executioner' Hopkins, 44-2-1, 1NC (31) and 'The Golden Boy' Oscar De La Hoya, 37-3 (29). From the moment this fight was announced, the prediction theme hasn’t changed; the common consensus is – Oscar doesn’t have a chance. For as long as I can remember, there have always been unyielding thoughts when it comes to fight predictions. Ali didn’t have a prayer against Liston and Foreman; there wasn’t a chance in two hells for Douglas and Holyfield to beat Tyson; Roy Jones get knocked out with one punch by Antonio Tarver? –never! If these and countless other incidents are any indications, they tell us that it can be done.

The thoughts on Oscar’s chances are understandable though, as Oscar has had ups and downs in performances in the past. I used to call Oscar 'The Riddler' because he had so many question marks connected to him. You never knew which De La Hoya would come to the dance. When he fought Felix Trinidad, he fought with too much of a sense of respect. He ran the majority of the bout and consequently loss on the scorecards. To some he was giving Trinidad a boxing lesson; to others, he wasn’t standing and fighting enough. The contrast to that fight was his fights with Shane Mosley. In those fights, especially the first, Oscar wasn’t scared of what was coming at him and became a straight-ahead fighter. With Shane’s speed, Oscar played directly into Mosley’s hands. His last fight and middleweight debut against Felix Sturm didn’t make him look like a world-beater to many. In that fight Oscar lacked the necessary power and size to compete effectively, but was given a gift decision. That questionable decision, as were the Whitaker and Quartey fights, have further put a damper on the thought about Oscar and his chances.

With all the doubting about his odds to beat Hopkins, many may be judging this book by its cover and just not acknowledging that Oscar De La Hoya has been a bestseller in boxing, literally and figuratively. He hasn’t put butts in the seats and cash in the pay-per-view register because he is a loser. The Sturm fight was an obvious bad night, but it can’t be used as a measuring stick in reference to this fight. Oscar and Floyd Mayweather Sr. are sure to have learned from the mistakes made in that fight. Coming up in weight, they know that he can’t be the aggressor in a division that the champion has occupied for years. At the same time, he can’t run as he did in the Trinidad fight. Running turned “The Fight Of The Millennium” into "The Marathon Of The Millennium". If he takes that route, “It's History” wouldn’t only be the name on the marquee, but it would describe De La Hoya’s chances of proving every naysayer wrong.

Of the two, Oscar is the faster fighter. Will that be a factor? Will the challenger’s youth be the deciding thing that will help him prevail? You can only give a ‘maybe’ in response to those theories. There are many more theories where those came from, but Hopkins will have a say in the final outcome to this battle. Just what will Oscar’s plan say? For his sake, let’s hope it speaks volumes from the opening bell.

Credit though has to be given to ‘The Golden Boy’ for taking this fight. Oscar has stepped up to the plate to try and make history. He has his supporters and his fare share of detractors. I came around a bit after his brilliant knockout of Fernando Vargas, but if he beats Hopkins, it should make his harshest critic rewrite their history books and give him the credit that some others feel he deserves now.

Let’s hope that this bout lives up to the fight that it’s being compared to. The 1987 middleweight championship classic between 'Sugar' Ray Leonard and 'Marvelous' Marvin Hagler is a hard act to duplicate. Leonard was also picked to lose, but with all the comparisons between these two fights, no one seems to acknowledge that Leonard won. He won, but will De La Hoya make the comparison complete? It can be done.
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