De La Hoya vs. Hopkins: It's Almost Time
By Jeff Mayweather (September 13, 2004) 
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Well, one of the biggest fights in Middleweight history is about to take place and it should be a good one. It seems just like yesterday when we were watching Oscar struggle against Felix Sturm and Hopkins playing it so safe to the point of being boring against Allen for the third time. With both guys coming out victorious the stage was set. This fight could turn out to be very interesting or it just might turnout to be another big let down of an over hyped fight as well as the significance attached to it.

It's a known fact that in order for Oscar to give himself any chance whatsoever he has to do better than he did in the fight leading up to this one. Even though Hopkins won his fight much easier, he too will have to step up his game and fight much better than he gave.

I feel that Hopkins is a good fighter; the word great is too easily used these days when it comes to identifying fighters. Yet his accomplishments and reign as Middleweight Champion would still be considered great.

Hopkins is a victim of his own dominance to no fault of his own, but unfortunately for him the competition in the era he has ruled is far from spectacular; kind of like Roy Jones, one of the most dominant fighters in the last decade but no real threat of competition until Tarver came along. You would have to look back almost seven years before Jones was remotely challenged. Same goes for Hopkins but nowhere near as devastating as Jones by comparison.

When all is said and done, you're judged by your big fights. So far Hopkins has really only had two, one against Felix Trinidad and one against Roy Jones, Jr. and he's 1-1. Roy was a legitimate Middleweight, Trinidad was a blown up Welterweight but a hell of a fighter. I guess personally -for that reason alone- I can't rush to jump on the Hopkins bandwagon.

I like Hopkins as a fighter and like he says, he is a throwback fighter, a member of what I'd like to call the (Blue Collar) Fighters of Boxing, always ready to go out and get the job done but he doesn't have what it takes to make him a star, no real appeal, that something special that separates him from the rest of the pack. Other than his stand against boxing. He reminds me of a Mike McCallum, a hell of a fighter who never really became a star in the sport although he had a great career.

One thing you can say about Hopkins is that he did things his way and still found a way to make the pay days that eluded the same type of guys who came before him. Thank God there is a De la Hoya; in this game of boxing he has made plenty guys multi- millionaires solely because of his appeal and demand from the boxing public here and abroad. He's the Cash Cow of the Boxing World sort of speak. His life seems to have been scripted, and so far almost everything he touches turns Golden in one way or another. It appears too good to be true.

Oscar de la Hoya is a fighter that is always aware of his surroundings and knows how to turn on the charm when the camera comes on. He's a good looking guy that says all the right things and makes all the money most importantly he has found away to make the fans love him, win lose or draw. It doesn't get any better than this. Great Fighter... not in terms of ability to fight in the ring but being able to transcend the sport of boxing... Yes, definitely great, and accomplishments in the sport, yes. He will a hard act to follow.

Well, enough said about these two in terms of status and character. The fight itself... In order for Oscar de la Hoya to come out with a victory he has to fight an almost flawless fight in terms of boxing. He has a real good chance. He's much faster than Hopkins when it comes to hand and foot speed as well. Those are his two keys to victory. He must be in and out after every combination and keep his defense tight and keep Hopkins turning throughout the fight, not allowing him to set up power shots.

He also must not get caught up in trying to prove he can take what Hopkins can dish out. Hopkins is naturally the bigger man, he will certainly be the stronger of the two. Oscar will have to try and out-smart Hopkins and out think him, not out fight him. Most importantly he will have to maintain his condition from round one until the final bell.

It's hard to imagine De la Hoya being knocked out or stopped in a fight. He has proven he can take it and give it as well, although he has never been in with a man as physically strong as Hopkins and if he happens to fade down the stretch, it could possibly happen for the first time in his career. If he can stick to this plan without too many mistakes along the way we can witness the crowning of a New Middleweight Champion of the World.

For Hopkins to win, he will need some cooperation from De la Hoya, to make Oscar feel that he can stand and trade with him and be somewhat successful, that will allow Hopkins to keep Oscar close enough to him to be effective. He will need to apply constant pressure and force Oscar to fight every minute of every round. He will also have to utilize his jab to find Oscar enabling him to get off more than one shot at a time. He must set the pace and maintain that pace throughout.

In order for Hopkins to use some of the dirty little tricks he likes to use, he will also need a referee who is lenient, someone who will have more of a 'let the fighters fight' attitude than a referee who is going to take charge of the fight and have it fought on his terms. That can hurt Hopkins.

If Oscar fades down the stretch, which has kind of been his trademark as of late, Hopkins will retain his title and remain Middleweight Champion once again. Well, like most fight fans I can hardly wait. Still we must wait just a little bit longer... It's almost here.
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