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De La Hoya vs. Hopkins: Say it Isn't So, Oscar

Feb 23, 2004  By Rick Caldwell
Though nothing is set in stone yet, it seems as though Oscar De La Hoya will make his debut at middleweight this summer on the same fight card that Bernard Hopkins plans to defend his middleweight title. The whole point of this fight card is to promote a fight between Oscar and Bernard that has been talked about for the fall of this year.

Everything I’ve read about this potential fight talks about how this is a great fight for boxing, and it will be by far the biggest non-heavyweight fight in the history of boxing. I agree with all of that. This fight will create enough excitement to keep casual fans interested while the heavyweight division sorts itself out. It is going to be great for the fans, and the sport, but I feel as though it will be very bad for Oscar De La Hoya.

All Oscar wants to talk about lately is his legacy. I guess winning a Gold Medal and world championships ranging all the way from 130-154 isn’t enough. He will already go down as one of the most dominant and popular fighters of his time. I don’t think he needs to fight Bernard Hopkins. There’s nothing wrong with taking a tough fight, but I think I’ve got a better chance of winning the lottery than Oscar has against Bernard.

My reasoning is pretty simple. Bernard is too big and too strong for Oscar. I realize Oscar currently fights at 154, and Bernard fights at 160, but it’s much more than that. Oscar won his Gold Medal at 132, and his first world title at 130. He was fairly young, and eventually grew into the 147 pound class, where he fought most of the important fights in his career. He fought 12 times in all at 147. He didn’t make the jump to 154 until recently. His fight with Fernando Vargas in late 2002 was only his second fight at 154. He’s moving up to 160 way too late in his career, and he’s running into one of the best natural middleweights ever.

Bernard Hopkins’ last loss was way back in 1993 against Roy Jones, JR. Since that loss, he’s torn through the competition boasting a record of 22-0 with 15 KO’s, all at middleweight. He hasn’t put weight on throughout his career. He fights at 160 because that’s his best weight to fight at, not because he wants to have a career defining fight and the man he needs to fight happens to weigh 160.

Other than the weight, let’s look at a common opponent. Though I thought Oscar did enough to beat Trinidad, he lost a close decision. Bernard dominated Tito, and knocked him out, and to be perfectly honest, I think Bernard beat a better Trinidad than Oscar faced. Just ask Fernando Vargas about that.

Bernard Hopkins seems to have the edge in all measurable categories. No doubt he has the power advantage. Hand speed is debatable, and Hopkins certainly has the edge in stamina. As great as Oscar is, all of his losses occurred because he faded down the stretch. Bernard methodically takes you apart from the opening bell to the final bell.

Oscar has been in some good fights against some good fighters, but simply put, Bernard brings the pain. If this fight ever takes place, I don’t think Oscar will see the final bell, and I doubt he will ever fight again.

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