Monday, December 08, 2008

Golden Boy

Bad Left Hook takes a close look at Oscar de la Hoya's career:

When Oscar was 11 fights in, he took on Denmark's Jimmy Bredahl for the WBO junior lightweight title, and he kicked his ass. Two fights later, he got rid of tough Mexican Jorge Paez in two rounds, winning a lightweight title. John Avila, John John Molina, Rafael Ruelas -- they all fell to the young de la Hoya. These were good fighters.

Genaro Hernandez suffered his first loss at the hands of Oscar in 1995, retiring after six rounds. Hernandez's only other career loss came to Money Mayweather, who never lost to anybody he fought. Jesse James Leija was another '95 victim.

When he fought Julio Cesar Chavez in 1996, Chavez was 34 years old and had a history of wars that probably made him feel older. Oscar, perhaps in an attempt to become the new idol of the Mexican fight fans, took him on and destroyed him. It never sat well with a lot of Mexican fans, and neither did their 1998 rematch, when Oscar beat him again.

Between the two Chavez fights, he took the undefeated record of Miguel Angel Gonzalez, beat Hall of Famer Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker, dumped David Kamau in two rounds, stomped Hector "Macho" Camacho over 12 rounds, and knocked out Wilfredo Rivera.

This is the period of Oscar's career that most interests me, because these days, you'd almost think he didn't do all of these things. You just read the name of some great fighters. Whitaker made the Hall of Fame in 2007. Chavez will as soon as he hits the ballot. There is real substance to the guys Oscar was beating in the 1990s.

It's easy to forget how invincible Oscar used to be; prior to that dancefest against Trinidad, he was 31-0. I think everyone who ever followed boxing, however, knows that Oscar jumped the shark in the Quartey fight.

(I still remember the fallout from that fight, which happened back during freshman year in college. All my buddies who are into boxing think Quartey got jobbed.)

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