Doghouse breaks down Hopkins-vs-De La Hoya
By Juan Angel Zurita (September 17, 2004)
When the Bernard Hopkins versus Oscar De La Hoya fight was officially announced, many questioned whether 'The Golden Boy' would actually climb into the ring come September 18th. More doubts sprouted when he struggled against unknown Felix Sturm in his middleweight debut this past June. Had De La Hoya chosen to take go another route, not many would’ve criticized him. After all, De La Hoya isn’t a natural middleweight and Hopkins is a monster in his middleweight dominion. Yet to the dismay of many, De La Hoya has refused to step down from the challenge, insisting that he didn’t prepare well for his middleweight debut, claiming that he took his opponent lightly. De La Hoya has promised that his date with Hopkins will be much different as he’ll be up against the greatest challenge of his hall of fame career, an immovable rock over the past 12 years, the most dominant middleweight champion since ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler.
For De La Hoya the risk presented in this bout is monumental. For the first time in his career he’ll be the underdog. Hopkins is much bigger, stronger, and tougher than anyone he’s ever faced. And that doesn’t bode well for him considering the fact that he has struggled several times against much smaller “less dangerous” opponents. Why then has De La Hoya chosen such a steep hill to climb instead of opting for a big money fight against a Winky Wright or Felix Trinidad to close out his career? In a nutshell, it’s a no-lose situation for him. Few give him a chance at pulling off the upset with the consensus holding that he’s way in over his head. Should he pull off the upset, he’ll become a ring legend and will forever etch his place alongside boxing’s immortals. If he’s somewhat competitive or loses a close fight, that too would be a victory in itself. Even if he’s humiliated, respect will be earned for simply attempting to accomplish the unthinkable. On the other hand, Hopkins stands to lose a lot of credibility should he lose to a smaller fighter whom he’s suppose to dominate.
Now despite the consensus belief that De La Hoya will fail, the bout isn’t devoid of intrigue. Outside of Roy Jones Jr., De La Hoya is the most talented and complete boxer Hopkins will have ever faced, and if boxing history has taught us anything, it’s that even long shots can pull off miracles. Why not De La Hoya? He’s much better than a long shot. There’s also the possibility that the 39-year-old Philadelphian could finally look every bit his age when he finds himself opposite an agile speedster, a fellow pound-for-pounder.
Whatever the final outcome may be, it will be a fun ride while it lasts. The bout that once sounded like a ridiculous fantasy will soon become a reality.
Here’s how Doghouse sees it unfolding.
Record: 44-2-1 (31)
Titles: IBF Middleweight Champion 1996-Current
WBC Middleweight Champion 2001-Current
WBA Middleweight Champion 2001-Current
Undisputed Middleweight Champion 2001-Current
*Holds a record 18 defenses in the Middleweight division
Biggest wins: TKO 7 Segundo Mercado, TKO 11 Glen Johnson, TKO 7 Robert Allen, UD Antwon Echols, TKO 11 Antwon Echols, TKO 12 Felix Trinidad, UD William Joppy
Quick Hit Bio
Hopkins has been on a monster run since dropping a decision to former pound-for-pound kingpin Roy Jones Jr. over ten years ago. Throughout that stretch he hasn’t tasted defeat, he broke Carlos Monzon’s record of 14 middleweight defenses in 2002, and has established himself as one of the greatest middleweights of all-time. At 39 years of age, this Philly boxer, brawler-mauler is a freak of nature. He is as dominant as ever and considered by many as the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the sport today.
Oscar De La Hoya
Record: 37-3 (29)
Titles: WBO Super Featherweight Champion 1994
WBO Lightweight Champion 1994-95
IBF Lightweight Champion 1995
WBC Light Welterweight Champion 1996-97
WBC Welterweight Champion 1997-99
WBC Junior Middleweight Champion 2001-2003
WBO Middleweight Champion 2004
Biggest wins: TKO Rafael Ruelas, TKO 6 Genaro Hernandez, TKO 4 Julio Cesar Chavez, TKO 8 Julio Cesar Chavez, UD Miguel Angel Gonzalez, UD 12 Pernell Whittaker, SD Ike Quartey, TKO 11 Fernando Vargas
Quick Hit Bio
De La Hoya burst onto the boxing scene after capturing Olympic Gold in the 1992 Barcelona games. His left hook, excellent boxing skills, lightning speed, and Hollywood star looks instantly catapulted him into superstardom. In fact, his impact has been so profound that he’s been the top draw outside of the heavyweight division over the last ten years. In terms of career accomplishments, he’s a racked up titles in six different weight classes, holds wins over 17 current or former champions, and he’s been considered one of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighters for almost a decade. And despite having suffered several setbacks over the last several years, he’s still considered one of the best in the game today.
BIG FIGHT BREAKDOWN
Boxing Skills Both fighters are extremely well-rounded and have shown that they can box or brawl with the best of them. Notably, they’re the only two fighters to have had great success against Puerto Rican power-punching legend, Felix Trinidad. Hopkins scored a TKO victory and De La Hoya dropped a controversial decision. Neither has a significant edge here.
Power De La Hoya boasted great power from 130-147 but his guns have seen a huge drop off from 154-160. In his bouts with Javier Castillejo, Shane Mosley, and Felix Sturm, his power didn’t appear to be much of a factor. Hopkins has never been a big puncher at 160, but he does possess heavy hands which have broken down many middleweight contenders, something De La Hoya has never done once.
Edge - Hopkins
Defense De La Hoya was once a very elusive fighter but his defense has begun to sprout numerous holes over the past several years. That could be attributed to age deteriorating his reflexes or his inability to ever master one single boxing style. It seems as if every other year he has a new trainer and is trying to reinvent himself. Hopkins is hittable but not as hittable as De La Hoya because he loves to handle most of his business on the inside where he smothers and mauls his victims.
Edge - Hopkins
Speed Hopkins has never been a speedster nor a turtle by any stretch of the imagination. He’s always had above average speed which has been declining as he’s grown older. However, that’s to be expected because Philly’s best is 39 years of age. De La Hoya began his career at junior lightweight and was once one of the quickest fighters in the sport. He’s not as fast as he use to be, but he still has great footwork and very good handspeed.
Edge - De La Hoya
Chin De La Hoya’s beard has been tested by a series of bangers and it has always passed the test. Likewise, Hopkins has had his tested by several bangers as well. Neither has ever been knocked out or been close to being stopped, but Hopkins gets the edge because his beard has consistently been tested by bigger men. Can anyone imagine De La Hoya taking a middleweight Roy Jones Jr.’s bombs for twelve full rounds? It probably wouldn’t even hold up for six.
Edge - Hopkins
Stamina Since De La Hoya’s fight with Miguel Angel Gonzalez, one of his biggest drawbacks has been his inability to finish tough fights strong. He did burst out with a flurry for the first minute of the twelfth round against Ike Quartey, but he faded against Mosley twice, Trinidad, and most recently against Felix Sturm. Hopkins fights every round like it’s the first thus is deservedly recognized as one of the best conditioned boxers in the sport.
Edge - Hopkins
Heart Since his letdown against Trinidad, where De La Hoya chose to get on his bicycle rather than close the show, De La Hoya has redeemed himself quite well. He showed his warrior spirit against Mosley in both of their bouts and against Vargas. He has never shown signs of quit and has displayed plenty of grit when he’s needed to. Hopkins has also shown a great will to weather tough storms when faced with adversity. He fought through some difficult moments in his draw with Segundo Mercado and his second fight with Antwon Echols. In the latter encounter, Hopkins suffered a dislocated shoulder after getting body-slammed, but went on to suck it up and stop Echols inside ten rounds.
Experience Both fighters have roughly the same number of fights and have each been fighting for over a decade. They’ve both seen it all. About the only thing that separates the two in this category is De La Hoya’s big fight experience. However, no extra brownie points are thrown De La Hoya’s way since Hopkins has been in several big fights himself. Don’t expect him to be overwhelmed by the occasion.
KEYS TO THE FIGHT
- You’re the naturally bigger, stronger, better conditioned fighter. Pressure, pressure, pressure. Target De La Hoya’s body. This will assist you in breaking him down late.
- It’s highly probable that De La Hoya will look to keep this fight on the outside. If you’re having trouble closing the gap, box, and bust him up with your jab. You have the technical skills to give him major problems in his preferred territory.
- Rough De La Hoya up whenever you are presented with the opportunity. Let him know that you’re in another league from those he’s already encountered.
- Don’t give away any of the early rounds. De La Hoya is a very talented fighter who should not be taken for granted. Letting him steal many of the early rounds could prove to be extremely costly if the fight lasts the full route.
De La Hoya
- If Hopkins has a weakness it’s his footwork. Yours is superior. Pump the jab, use lateral movement, get in and out, and work your handspeed. This will frustrate him.
- Resurrect the left hook. You seldom use it these days. If Hopkins gets overconfident, try to walk him into your money punch. You have the ability to capture his attention and even hurt him.
- Tie him up immediately when on the inside. He’ll be looking for opportunities to land illegal blows. Don’t give them to him.
- You have to close the show. This is the biggest fight of your career. A convincing victory would bump you into an elite league. You have to really show that you want it.
De La Hoya does stand an outside chance but it all boils down to his conditioning. If he can employ the same stick and move strategy which he applied against Trinidad while finishing semi-strong down the stretch, he could conceivably come out on top by the narrowest of margins. However, all logic points to one conclusion. De La Hoya’s stamina will fail him in the latter rounds once again. Look for him to be competitive for the first half of the fight before walking into the fire pit in rounds seven thru eleven, where Hopkins will eventually close the gap, begin to viciously maul his prey, and will become the first man to stop De La Hoya via corner/referee stoppage. If De La Hoya does manage to last the full route, he’ll probably look worse than William Joppy did after Hopkins mugged him. Either way, Hopkins will rack up defense number nineteen in convincing fashion.
Overshadowed by the Hopkins/De La Hoya super fight, expect a nice little scrap to ensue between Juan Manuel Marquez and unheralded Orlando Salido. Don’t let Salido’s record mislead you. Salido is a tough 23-year-old Mexican banger who is currently riding a nine fight winning streak. Also keep in mind that this is Marquez’s first fight since his dramatic draw with Filipino lion, Manny Pacquiao, a fight where he found himself on the canvas three times in the opening stanza. If Marquez doesn’t come in prepared, he could be in for a shock. Unfortunately for Salido, Marquez isn’t one to take any of his opponents lightly. The young charge will have some moments but in the end the counter-punching specialist from Mexico City will prove to be too experienced and powerful. Salido’s fate will be sealed when he becomes knockout victim number thirty-four. Marquez will roll on and ready himself for the highly anticipated Pacquiao rematch in early 2005.
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