Don't Underestimate Oscar De La Hoya 
By Tom Dickey (September 1, 2004) 
Photo © Chris Farina
There was once an old Boxing saying, "Never underestimate the heart of a champion." This saying should be applied to Oscar De la Hoya, who will be fighting for the Undisputed Middleweight title against Bernard Hopkins on September 18th. I have been amazed after reading numerous write ups and comments on this fight, that hardly anybody is giving Oscar De la Hoya a chance in this fight.

This is a man who has been a world champion at five different weight classes. This is a man who has been in the ring with some of the world's greatest fighters over his career, and even in defeat has never been soundly beaten. Now don't get me wrong Bernard Hopkins is a great fighter, maybe one of the greatest Middleweights of all time. But, Oscar is not too bad himself.

One of the explanations I have seen for why Oscar will lose is that Hopkins is too big for him. Remember Oscar started at 130 pounds, he's been moving up in weight his whole career. He has been hearing this his whole career, and it has not been much of a problem yet. Another explanation I hear is that Oscar is on his way down, just look at his last fight against Felix Sturm. First off Sturm was underrated, and Hopkins was the first to say that they were both fighting overcautiously on that card, because there was so much to lose with their mega fight on the horizon.

This is probably the first time in Oscar De la Hoya's career that he will be the underdog in the fight. You think that's not motivating for Oscar. Look at his past fights, when people were having doubts about him. Remember Fernando Vargas, many thought Vargas might overpower Oscar. Many wondered how Oscar would control his anger towards Vargas, and how he would handle people doubting him. Well, he bottled all the anger and doubts up into one of his greatest fights of his career. When Oscar is focused, he's a tough guy to beat. In the second Shane Mosley fight, Oscar was focused and boxed beautifully. Most would agree that he won that fight also.

Oscar has always done well in mega fights. Look at Vargas, his bouts against Julio Cesar Chavez, and the second Mosley fight. Even the fight against Felix Trinidad, Oscar was controlling the fight until he got passive guarding a big lead. Do you think he would do that against Hopkins and do you think he has not learned from that?

Oscar has always been at his best when his back has been up against the wall. I point to the Vargas fight again. Going further back in his career in 1994, Oscar suffered his first ever knockdown to little known Giorgio Campanella in the first round. Oscar responded by knocking Campanella down in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, finishing off Campanella in the 3rd round.

Go back to 1997 against Pernell Whitaker, Oscar went down in the 9th round. After this knockdown, he flurried back in the remaining rounds and won the fight.

Oscar has always rebounded well after lackluster fights, like the one he had with Felix Sturm. After his fight with Whitaker, in which he narrowly won, Oscar came back to knockout David Kamau in his next fight. After a close call with Ike Quartey, Oscar came back to knock out Oba Carr in his next fight. After the loss to Trinidad, Oscar came back to knock out Derrell Coley in his next fight. After the first Mosley loss, he came back to TKO Arturo Gatti in his next fight. Oscar is a veteran at rebounding, and seems to be at his best when people are starting to doubt him, which is exactly what is happening going into this fight with Hopkins.

There is no doubt in my mind that this will be a hard fight for Oscar de la Hoya to win. Bernhard Hopkins is a great champion, and seems to know every Boxing trick in the book. Maybe the weight, and maybe the experience and savvy of Hopkins will be too much for Oscar. But, again I will remind all the people who will be watching the fight on September 18th, "Never underestimate the heart of a champion".
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