Oscar De La Hoya: The End of an Era
By Eric Marks, Doghouse Boxing (April 22, 2009)  
We all knew Oscar De La Hoya’s retirement was coming we just weren’t prepared for it. The truth is you can never be fully prepared for these things. The only truly larger than life star in boxing (further solidified by the enormous press coverage of his retirement) has now closed the door on a storybook career. Boxing fans and pundits know he has for all intents and purposes been semi-retired for the last five years, but we still knew that once a year we could look forward to seeing this transformational figure inside the ring.

Writers and enthusiasts will soon begin to analyze De la Hoya’s place in history, and while they may differ on some points, they will no doubt be in unanimity about De La Hoya’s willingness to fight the best, financial and universal appeal, and overall star power, the likes of which may have never been seen in boxing outside the heavyweight division. I for one am glad to have watched this marvel of a fighter engage in combat for a decade and a half. We must remember that De La Hoya achieved success at such a young age that it seems as though he has been around forever. But at 36 he still retires somewhat young and intact considering many of today’s fighters go well into their forties with substantial wear and tear.

The critics will point out that De La Hoya never beat a great fighter in his prime and if you agree with the controversial decisions losses to Felix Trindad and Shane Mosely in their second fight then that may be true. Most will say he beat a very good but not great Ike Quartey and Fernando Vargas, and a past prime Pernell Whitaker and Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. And many of De La Hoya’s biggest fights were close, but to say he never really won decisively is also to say he never really lost decisively either (the loss to Bernard Hopkins not withstanding). This may be why his beating at the hands of Manny Pacquiao made his decision easier.

De La Hoya has always maintained he would not fight when he could not compete at the highest level and that once he retired he would not come back and tarnish his image like so many others have done. Recent fights have suggested a decline in skills, and any comeback remains to be seen. However, the ‘Golden Boy’ seems sincere in his decision, and even though he didn’t have the grandiose ending he sought he still went out on his terms. To be sure though, De La Hoya has avoided ruining his reputation the way others have done, since his most recent fight with Pacquiao was the only time he has ever been truly dominated.

When the smoke clears this is still a guy who has won titles in six weight classes, plus a gold medal. This is a remarkable accomplishment to say the least and something no other fighter can claim. De La Hoya’s frame made him dangerous at the lower weights and allowed him to ascend to the higher weight classes with power, speed, and effective movement. He was always a class act, a gentleman with the press and those he encountered. His involvement in the community in Los Angeles is quite admirably and his generosity impressive. He will be missed for sure and there may never be another quite like him.

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Eric at: ericmarks66@hotmail.com



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