De La Hoya vs. Quartey:
A Super Fight Fans Can Appreciate!
By Francis Walker

With all of the politics corrupting the sport, boxing fans were still blessed with some of the most compelling fights this decade. Bowe-Holyfield I, Douglas-Tyson, Whitaker-Chavez, Benn-McClellan, Norris-Taylor I, Toney-Nunn, Barkley-Hearns I, Barrera-McKinney, Gatti-Rodriquez, Hamed-Kelley, Tapia-Romero, Holyfield-Tyson, among others... But on Saturday, November 21, two of the world's top welterweights will lock horns. In what could be the 1998 Fight of the Year, "The Golden Boy" Oscar De la Hoya (29-0, 24KOs), making the sixth defense of the WBC welterweight championship, battles former undefeated WBA 147-pound champ Ike Quartey (34-0-1, 29KOs).

The bout, appropriately entitled "The Challenge,"promoted by Top Rank, Inc., in association with Main Events Monitor, will be televised live from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, exclusively on TVKO Pay-Per- View.

Aside from the tremendous marketing blitz executed by De La Hoya's promoted Bob Arum - selling his fighter as a Mexican-American sex symbol to women - De La Hoya has enjoyed great success since winning the Gold medal at the 1992
Olympics at the Barcelona Olympics. De La Hoya, after six years of professional prize fighting, has won world titles in three separate weight classes. As a lightweight (135 pounds) De La Hoya wiped the mat with John-John Molina (W 12), Rafael Ruelas (KO 2), Genaro Hernandez (TKO 6), Jessie James Leija (KO 2). Thus, winning "Fighter of the Year" honors in 1995. In 1996, as a super lightweight (140 lbs.), De La Hoya again proved his claim becoming the first fighter to stop the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez (TKO 4).              

Lastly, having beaten former undefeated lightweight king Miguel Angel Gonzalez (W 12) with one arm in January 1997, De La Hoya went on to wrestle the WBC 147-pound title away from four-division king Pernell Whitaker (W 12). Overall, De La Hoya remained undefeated through five world titles in all of '97. Again winning "Fighter of the Year" honors.

Despite two additional world title victories including a second victory over Chavez (TKO 8) In 1998, De La Hoya has been ridiculed by the press. Having been labeled as a "chicken" for his inability to fight Whitaker after their controversial battle in April  '97, many feel De La Hoya's reputation has been based on fighting has beens of the past. Ruelas, Molina, Lejia, Chavez,
Gonzalez, Whitaker, Hector Camacho, and Wilfredo Rivera, are considered nobodies. Yet, they still remain in the spotlight, enjoying some of the biggest thrills in their careers? How can this be?

Its all good because, all of what is said shall soon perish into dust. Quartey is up for "The Challenge."

During the past ten years, Quartey, 28, Accra, Ghana, has been one of boxing's best kept secrets. Six years after his pro debut in November 1988, Quartey, in June 1994, knocked out Crisanto Espana (KO 11) to capture the WBA title. In seven defenses, Quartey has fought some of the best fighters in the world: Vince Phillips (TKO 3), Oba Carr (W 12), who nearly beat IBF welterweight boss Felix Trinidad several years ago, and former WBO titlist Jose Luis Lopez (D12).

Quartey was to have met Whitaker in the Spring. However, due to Whitaker's illegal drug use the bout was canceled. Quartey was next scheduled to meet mandatory challenger Andrei Pestriaev. Even though he lost a close decision to Whitaker late last year, the WBA awarded Pestriaev the No. 1 ranking as a sign of good faith and justification. After two additional postponed dates, Quartey was stripped of his crown. As recent as October 10, Pestriaev was knocked out in the second round by No. 3 contender James Page.

That's not all, Quartey agreed to sign a lucrative contract with his financial backers at Main Events to meet Trinidad. But while Trinidad is in a legal battle with Don King and Showtime, claiming Trinidad's contract with HBO is invalid, the Puerto Rican sensation remains inactive. Having fought only once this year, three in the past 20 months. In any event, as the smoke cleared, De La Hoya finally took it upon himself to challenge Quartey. Something both Whitaker and Trinidad has failed to do.

Both are well-schooled athletes. But styles make fights, which is why De La Hoya-Quartey could very well be the "Fight of the Year."

At 5' 10," De La Hoya is an excellent boxer, who thrives off relentless aggression. This could be dangerous against a guy like Quartey, who may be an inch shorter, but naturally stronger than "The Golden Boy." Quartey, who has awesome two-handed power, is going to pursue De La Hoya into a slugfest. The same way De La Hoya fought Chavez in their rematch, is the same type of approach Quartey will look for. What De La Hoya has to do is simply box!!!

Against Phillips, Quartey lured him into a slugfest and the fight did not last long. But when he fought Carr, Quartey was frustrated to the degree he was knocked down in the later rounds. Had it not been for Quartey's brute force, he could have lost. In his previous encounter, Lopez not only boxed, but dropped Quartey twice en route to a draw. Just imagine what could happen if Quartey cannot reach past De La Hoya's boxing skills? Also, De La Hoya is a very difficult target to hit - Thanks to elusive head-movement. Plus, De La Hoya has a nice left-jab, right-hook, uppercut, followed by a left-hook finish. Blend that in with nice ring movement, defense and poise - De La Hoya is tough to beat.

In closing, if De La Hoya box, either he will emerge a 12-round unanimous decision victor or stop Quartey - possibly on cuts! If Quartey has his way, there is a chance De La Hoya could be caught with something big and lose by TKO!

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