Hopkins vs. De La Hoya, A Battle Of Legacies...
By Xavier 'El Mago' Cepeda (September 18, 2004) 
Photo © Chris Farina
De La Hoya weighs 155lbs
Hopkins weighs 156lbs
Surely, so close to fight night, boxing fans have had read every angle available, whether online or in newspapers across the world, on what is being termed the fight of this decade. Oscar ‘The Golden Boy’ de la Hoya will take on Bernard ‘The Executioner’ Hopkins in a Middleweight showdown for all four belts. A four belt unification has never before been accomplished at this weight division. Hopkins, the current Ring magazine undisputed Middleweight Champion will look to add DLH’s WBO belt to his waist.

Hopkins is favored to win coming into the fight. There are many reasons justifying the odds. Hopkins, with his height and reach advantage, can give DLH problems from the outside. Looking to the inside, Hopkins’ gritty Philly style can be overwhelming. Styles make fights. Hopkins has defeated the last 18 opponents that have attempted to take out the 39 year old ring vet. So this is a no brainer, right? A Hopkins win, probably late round TKO. Right?

De la Hoya would not have come this far, and been so lucrative in his career, to lose in a fight that could punctuate his career. De la Hoya possesses the ring smarts to give even the most proclaimed champion a boxing lesson straight from the text books. DLH has always dug down deep within himself to earn a win in big fights where many have doubted him. This seems to also be no-brainer. Right? So then what is really going to happen? We have conflicting assumptions here.

DLH will undoubtedly enter the ring Saturday night in the best shape of his life. Forget all that you have seen in the past. This is different. Never has he had such a threat of taking a street style beating in the ring as he does against Hopkins. William Joppy, a strong Middleweight, reminds us of what Hopkins can do. Without a doubt, DLH’s speed will play a major factor in this fight. Hopkins hasn’t faced this type of speed since he faced Roy Jones Jr. DLH’s punching power cannot be downplayed in this match either. Many have come, gone straight at the Golden Boy, and been knocked out or down in the latter rounds. See DLH vs. Vargas, and DLH vs. Castillejo, as these were fought at Jr. Middleweight. Hopkins has never had one punch KO power, his edge comes from an accumulation round by round. One thing can be said of De la Hoya, he has a proven chin, one of the better ones in the sport.

The outcome of this fight rests heavily on De la Hoya. Most expect Hopkins to come into the ring, fighting as he always has, keeping true to his excellent consistency and militant training. He will most likely attempt to rough up DLH, hitting and turning. He is an expert at getting angles on opponents when on the inside. But in this fight, there is one factor that could give the Philly Champion problems. Hopkins terrorizes his opponents with his counter punching, but take that away, and make him stalk his opponent, and he is a less effective fighter.

This is where DLH will capitalize. With superior foot speed, DLH will move in and out, picking his shots, not running, but also not staying to see what it feels like to be Joppy either. Hopkins has always had a very good guard, but sometimes a high one. De la Hoya will work the body on every opportunity, hoping to wear down Hopkins. When in close, Hopkins will have the advantage if given the opportunity to trade shots to the body. His ring generalship is of an elite class. He cuts the ring off with the best of them. This fight will not be fought as a toe to toe battle of wills.

Look to see a closer fight than odds makers are expecting. DLH will come in to a fast start, focusing on the body, with frequent overhand rights to the head. Hopkins will look to head hunt in this one, cutting the ring off and forcing DLH to stand and trade. Hopkins will focus on the chin of DLH, firing blows to the body when able. We will see Hopkins be the aggressor. But there is one thing that cannot be seen. No one can see it, not De la Hoya, or Hopkins, or the multitudes that will be tuned in, and that is the inevitable aging of the great Bernard Hopkins. Will it come Saturday? Or has it already arrived, to be displayed before all? We will see. Age catches up to all of us, it is inevitable. It is as inevitable as Tito Trinidad coming on strong in the later rounds. The only thing that can be questioned about it, is when?

De la Hoya by split decision. Call me crazy, call me biased, or call me the underdog, but I’m sticking by my guns!
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