Oscar De La Hoya - Bernard Hopkins; A Rough Campaign
By Aladdin Freeman (September 24, 2004) 
Photo © HoganPhotos.com
The fight between Oscar de la Hoya and Bernard Hopkins wasn’t all that exciting, it could have been worse had Hopkins opted to press De la Hoya from the start. Bernard, who has always done things his way decided to get into a boxing match and in my eyes was lucky to be even after 6 rounds. However, it was clear that he had the superior physical tools to probably have stopped De la Hoya by then had he decided to fight his usual style and rough him up early and often.

A strong case could be made that Oscar and his management team knew they had bitten off more than they could handle when they decided to campaign at 160 pounds altogether after his first fight at 160 pounds. This division has proved to be much more than Oscar can handle, he was given a gift back in May when he fought Felix Sturm and really looked like he lost 7 maybe 8 of the 12 rounds and then on Saturday night he again looked out of his league once Bernard Hopkins decided to press the action. Oscar was lucky that Bernard Hopkins landed a body shot instead of something upstairs that may have busted up his Television face.

There were no excuses to make; Oscar de la Hoya (37-4 with 29 KO’s) was for the first time in his career in a fight where there weren’t any asterisks next to the guy’s name he was fighting. What I mean by that is this... when he fought Felix Trinidad, you could make a strong argument Tito was killing himself to make 147 pounds, Julio Cesar Chavez & Sweet Pea were too old, Mosley was too small and at least in their first fight too fast, Quartey was too lazy and had taken too much time off, Vargas was too punch drunk after Trinidad was finished with him.

Yes, all these were good points, and I believe De la Hoya and his advisors were betting that Hopkins at 39 was going to be too old, but he wasn’t, and probably won’t be for about 3 years. A lot of people have called me and told me it looked like Oscar quit because he knew what was coming and judging by how accurate Hopkins was becoming with his power punches and also knowing how Bernard doesn’t slow down or tire and Oscar does, they may have a very good points. I’ll give Oscar some props for making the move up and making $30 million dollars but that’s about it.

Here again is the difference between a guy like Trinidad and De la Hoya. Tito, who had all that other stuff going on in his life, (marital problems, false accusations of illegal hand wrapping, an out of wedlock child about to be born), still, he put forth a valiant effort to try and beat Hopkins. It would have been easy for Tito to lay down when the chips were against him, and after that uppercut that he ate at the end of the 10th round, who would have blamed him. Looked like to he went out on his shield and I know it’s different being in the ring but it looked like Oscar didn’t. It looked like he did quit because he saw there was no letting up in Hopkins.

Bernard Hopkins (45-2-1 with 32 KO’s) next stop will be the Hall of Fame, love him or hate him, the man can flat out fight. If Hopkins had that one punch power that fight fans fall in love with, I don’t think I could ever picture him losing. He may make for rough, drag down fights but you better know this, when it’s a big time prize fight, the man comes through. In his biggest fights during his 20 title defense -and he’ll tell you all of them have been huge and he’s right because he doesn’t take anyone for granted- but against Segundo Mercado the second time KO in the 7th to win the IBF Middleweight title, Robert Allen the second time KO in the 7th, Antwun Echols the second time KO in the 10th, Felix Trinidad KO in the 12th at the Garden on a national stage and then vs. Oscar de la Hoya a KO in the 9th in Las Vegas also known as Oscar’s backyard.

Bernard Hopkins may not be a fan favorite and probably will never be; it was pretty sad to see Hopkins pleading with the pro Oscar Las Vegas crowd to get some support. Say what you want, but you do have to give him his due, he’s a damn good prize fighter and the best Middleweight to come along since Marvin Hagler and when the chips are on the line he steps up his game to another level and will continue to do so until he decides when he’s ready to walk away...
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