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05-18-2006, 01:55 PM
Oscar De La Hoya vs. The Past
by Matthew Aguilar from Sweet Science

Whether you are a fan of Oscar De La Hoya or not, it is impossible to deny his importance to boxing over the last decade. It is also impossible to deny his status as a good — if not a great — fighter.

His legacy could depend on whether he defeats Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a possible megafight tentatively slated for Sept. 16.

But, whatever the case, De La Hoya has proven to be the dominant lighter-weight fighter of his era, and not just because he had the ability to draw the mainstream sporting audience (read: women) in droves.

It’s because he could fight.

Rafael Ruelas, Genaro Hernandez, Jesse James Leija, Julio Cesar Chavez, Ike Quartey, Arturo Gatti, Fernando Vargas, Ricardo Mayorga. His list of victims is like a who’s who of boxing in the 1990s and 2000s.

So, what if De La Hoya had been born 20 or so years earlier, and competed in one of the greatest eras in boxing history — the 1980s?

Would he have fit in comfortably with the golden age of the welterweights? Or would he have been overmatched?

Let’s fantasize:

•Oscar De La Hoya (1997) vs. Wilfred Benitez (1979): This fight would have taken place at welterweight, about the time that De La Hoya outpointed Pernell Whitaker for the WBC 147-pound title and Benitez lost to Sugar Ray Leonard via 15th-round TKO.

Though Benitez lost to Leonard, it was anything but easy for Sugar Ray. Benitez, known as “Radar,” won the title in early-1979 with a masterful decision over another Hall-of-Famer, Carlos Palomino. He is regarded, along with Willie Pep, as one of the best defensive fighters in history. A fighter as fast as Leonard had trouble clocking Benitez clean. De La Hoya, a smidgen slower than Leonard, would experience similar frustration.

This fight would look a lot like De La Hoya’s ’97 battle with Whitaker, a fighter similar to Benitez in style and attitude. Unlike Whitaker, Benitez was a full-fledged 147-pounder who eventually moved up to 154 and won a title there. So it’s a bigger version of Whitaker that De La Hoya would be facing.

Benitez never had a very strong beard, which is why he eventually succumbed to the blazing fists of Leonard. However, they’d be fighting a 12-rounder, and it’s unlikely De La Hoya would catch the Puerto Rican with anything substantial over that distance. Only problem, he wouldn’t catch the Golden Boy with anything big, either.

After a tactical, nip-and-tuck (boring) affair, De La Hoya wins a decision based on aggressiveness.

Odds: De La Hoya, 2-1
Result: De La Hoya W 12 (s)

•Oscar De La Hoya (1996) vs. Roberto Duran (1980): De La Hoya was officially a junior welterweight in ‘96, following a career-best TKO of the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez. But he was starving himself to get down to 140, and was a mammoth specimen compared to tiny Chavez, who was aged and physically overmatched. He wouldn’t find the ‘80 Duran to be nearly as accommodating.

The fire in Duran’s belly was ignited by fighters like De La Hoya — pretty boy types who were coddled up the ranks and fed a steady diet of set-ups. He despised Leonard, who mapped out the blueprint for the Golden Boy. The parallels between Leonard and De La Hoya are undeniable: Olympic glory, undefeated records, classic styles, speed and athleticism.

Consequently, De La Hoya would face the inspired Duran who beat Leonard in Montreal, not the bloated, under-trained shadow who quit in New Orleans. And that Duran was as close to unbeatable as a fighter could be.

Duran would attack De La Hoya relentlessly, in an attempt to make it a street fight. De La Hoya, like Leonard, would initially be startled by “Manos de Piedra’s” aggressive start. He’d try to establish the jab, but would not possess the physicality to hold a raging Duran off. De La Hoya would begin to find himself in the middle rounds, jabbing to the body and catching Duran with left hooks. But he would get frustrated at his inability to hurt his iron-chinned opponent, and become demoralized by the championship rounds.

Scheduled for 15 rounds, De La Hoya would be a battered mess by the end of 12. Duran would seize the moment, and punish him in the 13th. The referee would jump in and save a bloody, defenseless Golden Boy late in the 13th.

Duran would snarl at De La Hoya, grab his crotch, and raise his hands in victory.

Odds: Duran, 2-1
Result: Duran TKO 13

•Oscar De La Hoya (1998) vs. Thomas Hearns (1981): De La Hoya was in his prime in ‘98, though his year was rather uneventful. There was a predictable third-round knockout of French pug Patrick Charpentier in June, and an eighth-round TKO of Chavez in a pointless rematch. But he was brilliant in both fights, physically and mentally.

The ‘81 Hearns was one of the most fearsome welterweights in history. His vicious knockout of Pipino Cuevas in 1980 is a classic Hearns hit, and he followed that up with knockouts of contenders Luis Primera, Randy Shields and Pablo Baez. He handled all with ease.

De La Hoya would be facing the Hearns who was heading into the Leonard fight in September ‘81.

This would be a fascinating fight early on. In fact, it would resemble Hearns and Leonard the first time — a pair of fencers probing for openings. Hearns had the harder punch and faster hands, but De La Hoya had the better chin. So, when Hearns landed, De La Hoya would shake and rattle, but not roll.

However, when De La Hoya landed with his quick, powerful bursts, Hearns would be wobbly-legged. De La Hoya would drop Hearns in the seventh with a left hook. However, while moving in for the finish, Hearns would strike him with a perfect right hand and put Oscar on his back.

De La Hoya would get up, and a classic battle would unfold.

The fighters would alternate between boxing and brawling, often engaging in wicked exchanges that would result in both fighters being staggered. And neither fighter would neglect the body, pounding the ribcage with abandon.

It would take a toll on the “Hitman.”

Hearns was agonizingly skinny in 1981, and De La Hoya’s body work would have more of an effect. He’d begin to weaken Hearns in the 10th of the scheduled 15-rounder. Hearns would rebound with his heart and skills, boxing his way back into the fight with his longer reach and superior hand speed, a la the original Leonard fight.

But then, a whistling De La Hoya left hook would drop Hearns in the 13th round — similar to the way the Hitman fell against Iran Barkley in 1988. Hearns, one of the gutsiest fighters in history, would try to make it up, but would come up short, and be counted out.

Odds: Hearns, 2-1
Result: De La Hoya KO 13

•Oscar De La Hoya (1999) vs. Sugar Ray Leonard (1982): This was the De La Hoya who was at the height of his powers — amazingly quick hands, outstanding power, great chin and a killer instinct that belied that big smile. It was right around the time of the Oba Carr fight (KO 11), and months before the hard-to-figure Felix Trinidad disaster of 1999.

The ‘82 Leonard was an awesome fighting machine. He had already dispatched Benitez and Duran, and was coming off the thrilling, historic 14th-round knockout of Hearns. His future was seemingly limitless after a quickie KO of no-hoper Bruce Finch (KO 3) in February of ‘82, and that was the Sugar Ray that was favorably compared with his legendary namesake, Sugar Ray Robinson.

Leonard always liked to play mind games with his opponents, and it would be interesting to see what his mental plan-of-attack would be against De La Hoya. Against Ayub Kalule, a native of Uganda who supposedly had a witch doctor in his corner, Leonard wore an emblem on his trunks that countered black magic.

Against Hearns, who traditionally wore white trunks, Leonard wore his own white trunks — just because he could.

Against Duran in the rematch, Leonard wore all black, to reflect his dark, serious mood. It translated into the most notable humiliation of a bully this side of Buster Douglas’ knockout of Mike Tyson. He wound up with a fake bolo punch and popped Duran with a jab. He stuck his chin out. He did the Ali Shuffle.

He mocked him unmercifully, forcing the great Duran to walk away in disgust.

Leonard wouldn’t be able to get away with such nonsense against a quicker fighter like De La Hoya.

Not immediately, anyway. So he’d likely play it serious in the early rounds, which would be dull as both fighters searched for an edge.

De La Hoya would hit paydirt with a left hook in the middle rounds of an even fight, but would be shocked to find Leonard smiling at him. Knowing that he could absorb De La Hoya’s punch with little problem, Leonard’s strategy would be formed: He’d hunt down his prey.

De La Hoya would become even more shocked when Sugar Ray soaked up more of his bombs willingly, without flinching, while continuing his forward progress. And that’s when Leonard would initiate the body work. Left to the body. Right to the body. Double left to the body. Jab to the body. Leonard would follow the same blueprint as the Hearns fight. Forever wanting the mental edge, Leonard would be looking to come out prettier in the battle of the pretty boys.

By the 10th round of the scheduled 12-rounder, De La Hoya would be in trouble. Unable to keep Leonard off of him and his legs too weak to move, he would rumble with his back against the ropes. His eyes would be swollen and his mouth bloody, but he wouldn’t come close to going down.

He’d pull out the final round on heart alone, and it would make things interesting. But it wouldn’t be nearly enough. Leonard by unanimous decision.

Odds: Leonard, 2-1
Result: Leonard W 12 (u)

05-18-2006, 02:34 PM
Hollleeee Jeeeezzusss....

Matthew Aguillar is normally a pretty clear-headed guy, but he's off his effin' rocker if he thinks De La Hoya would knock out Tommy Hearns or that he would last thirteen rounds with Roberto Duran!

De La Hoya is a decent fighter but he's no Benitez, Hearns, Duran or Leonard - far from it in fact.

All of those guys would wipe the floor with De La Hoya - and I think I'm accurate in saying that.

05-18-2006, 03:04 PM
I'm with you a 100% on this, Tom. & your right, Mathew IS usually on the money .... Hearns would have blasted Oscar into infinity ... Benitez? I think it would have been a relatively close fight. Leonard? Either a WIDE UD or a late stoppage. Duran? The one that fought Leonard the first time eats him alive.

Oscar just wouldn't have the stamina to withstand THAT Duran.

& frankly I believe he would have also lost to a prime Curry or Starling.

& let's not even get into guys like Griffith, Rodriguez, Gavilan, etc.


05-18-2006, 03:31 PM
I agree. Match Oscar with guys like Starling and Brown, and it's a more level playing field.

Hearns and Duran? Oscar is out of his element. Those guys are a step above Trinidad and Vargas, as much acclaim as the latter group have recieved.

I have tons of respect for Oscar's skills and heart, but Hearns leaves him flat on the mat. Benitez I'll concede is a close fight but Wilfred would close the show strong and take home the decision.

05-18-2006, 03:41 PM
Would like to see convincing, clear cut definitive victories by Oscar over a past his prime Whitaker (Had Pea by a point in a horrifically boring bout), Quartey, (Had Ike by two points. ANd that included a 2 point round by Oscar in the 12th), Trinidad (had the bout a draw. Would not argue vehmently about an Oscar victory by 1 or 2 points, whihc translates into a round'd difference. As Unimpressive as Tito was, Oscar, imo, was just as so) and Mosley (Had Shane winning thier first bout rather comfortably, 4 points, and had the rematch a 1 point victory for Shane), before discussing matchups with SRL, Hearns, Duran and Benitez.

"It" just seems to be missing when discussing oscar on an ALL TIME level.


05-18-2006, 03:50 PM
Where is Oscar moving up to middleweight and beating Hagler by KO in the 1st round?
Seems like Oscar is a decent guy but against Hearns his toes would be pointed at the lights in early fashion IMO.
Duran beats him by unanimous decision
Leonard by unanimous decision.
Benitez?Close call but I'll go with Wilfred.
Like I said,I like Oscar but he could never really get the big win over the best in this weaker era so how could anyone expect he could do better against the superior fighters of the 80's??????

Walker Smith
05-18-2006, 03:51 PM
Oscar is going to get a little over-rated because of the Mayorga fight. That's natural. A fighter's accomplishments depreciates with time and De La Hoya's career hasn't even ended. Once it is concluded, people will realize that Hagler was miles above B Hop and that BHop tooled with De La Hoya after round 5 of their fight and that all of those 147-154 pounders of the 80s gave Hagler tough fights and were formidable middleweights, super-middleweights and even light-heavyweights, which De La Hoya could never aspire to be. I think Oscar and Mosley's place are relatively on the same page. Mosley was better in his absolute prime (pre-Forrest) while De La Hoya had the better career with longevity.

05-18-2006, 07:22 PM
I have a lot of respect for Oscar because unlike some others we cant deny he has stepped up to the plate time and time again. I am quite sure that Oscar would have held his own in any era and perhaps beat some of our favourite old timers. But were talking the elite here. Hearns, Leonard and Duran. These guys are a a shade above him to say the least. I agree his best chance is in a Benitez fight. But i still think he loses that one to.

05-18-2006, 08:41 PM
I agree with you, Danny. Oscar deserves a TON of respect for what he did for boxing in the 90's. Between the Bowe-Golota nut crunchers & riot & Leg-Iron Mike going to jail for rape & then trying to eat Evander ...

Well, it's been a while now & we tend to forget but boxing media & public wise was at about it's lowest ebb ever. Oscar was the one boxer who had crossed over to the general media that you could point at & not be embarassed about.

Your also right Danny that he has always stepped up to the plate & ducked nobody. The only other fighters of his era that can make that claim are Barrera, Morales & Holyfield.

So yes, Oscar absolutely deserves respect for always stepping up to the plate & always conducting himself like a gentleman.

BUT ... When it comes to ranking him as an all-time great I can't do it. However to give the man his props, I do think he would have been a top contender in just about any era & perhaps a champion in one of the weaker ones.


05-19-2006, 12:21 PM
I can' t see Oscar beating Hearns, or even lasting past 8 rounds with him.

Roberto Aqui
05-19-2006, 01:47 PM
Oscar is very close in natural talent to Hearns, Duran, and Leonard. Oscar seemed to become a parttime fighter very early in his career. I doubt any fighter in history had a million young girls following his every move and just itching to jump in his pants and no non heavyweight ever had his coin to throw around.

Add on his obvious inclination to the business world, what you have at the end of the career is, in baseball terms, a player/manager/owner. If Oscar focuses his training and fight plan, he could make life difficult for any of the three above in his prime. I would not favor him, but I see a super fight like that being closer than what is talked about on this thread.

05-01-2008, 05:15 AM
This Thread would fit great in the Fantasy section.


05-01-2008, 06:07 AM
I don't think Oscar beats Tommy, Roberto or Ray, but nor do I believe all easily win.. Nobody but nobody put a beating on a peak Oscar. He was that talented and was big enough to give all those 3 a good competitive fight.

Oscar had the style and tools to make it very hard for anyone to outbox him or KO him. I think Ray is just too fast and aggressive and Hearns is a little too hard for Oscar to outbox. Duran and Oscar over 12 would be brilliant, with Duran's better defense and heavier work rate winning a decision.

Oscar's peak weight is probably 140lbs. 147 might be a little much against these three...

Although Oscar was a bigger man than Roberto, Roberto I feel, is still is a little too good

05-01-2008, 06:14 AM
I'm with you a 100% on this, Tom. & your right, Mathew IS usually on the money .... Hearns would have blasted Oscar into infinity ... Benitez? I think it would have been a relatively close fight. Leonard? Either a WIDE UD or a late stoppage. Duran? The one that fought Leonard the first time eats him alive.

Oscar just wouldn't have the stamina to withstand THAT Duran.

& frankly I believe he would have also lost to a prime Curry or Starling.

& let's not even get into guys like Griffith, Rodriguez, Gavilan, etc.


As a Curry Oscar proposed bout recently came up in the Fantasy section, I bumped this thread, because of previously noted laziness on my part.

Not only do I want to quote my OWN comments about Oscar never clearly beating his top tier 147 pound opponents, I also want to echo Gor's comments here, specifically about Curry and Starling.

I agree 100% with this sentiment.


Michael Frank
05-01-2008, 06:18 PM
I'm with you a 100% on this, Tom. & your right, Mathew IS usually on the money .... Hearns would have blasted Oscar into infinity ... Benitez? I think it would have been a relatively close fight. Leonard? Either a WIDE UD or a late stoppage. Duran? The one that fought Leonard the first time eats him alive.

Oscar just wouldn't have the stamina to withstand THAT Duran.

& frankly I believe he would have also lost to a prime Curry or Starling.

& let's not even get into guys like Griffith, Rodriguez, Gavilan, etc.

Echoing all of Gor's remarks ver batim here.

Oscar was a fine ambassador for the sport, but, his business dealings aside, was no better in this area than 3 of the 4 fighters the article matches him with (Duran being a more Tyson-like ambassador). Oscar simply appealed to a lot of Latin women, but, otherwise, did no more for the sport than those other guys, if even as much.

I like him, but cannot rank his value to the game or his skills with that of the other 4. On the issue of him carrying the 1990s for boxing, that would be because the game was so under-represented by top fighters then, not because he was a bigger fighter or persona than a Leonard, Duran, Hearns, etc., who simply competed in a much more talent-filled era.

HE Grant
05-02-2008, 02:16 AM
Oscar was a warrior and a great fighter ... however, he is being matched here against three of the top ten all time welters and it is too much ...

Leonard by clear decision with a couple of knockdowns along the way ...

Hearns by KO

Duran by late round KO or wide decision with Oscar coming out looking like Davey Moore ...

Kid Dynamite
05-03-2008, 05:43 PM
I can say that Oscar has accomplished a lot but there is no way in hell he beats Hagler, Leonard, Duran, or Hearsn.

Oscar was getting his ass handed to him by a 39 year old Hopkins when Oscar was a still young 32 years of age. I thought he lost to Quartey although it was a close fight. Oscar was soundly beaten by Mosley at 147. He barely beat an old coked up Whitaker who before that fight almost lost to Hurtado and was given a gift decision against Rivera. He hasnt had a BIG win since he beat Quarty in 1999 which is almost 10 years ago.

I simply dont get the hype surrounding DLH. He goes life and death with a washed up never was in Vargas yet he is compared to the greats.

05-03-2008, 06:58 PM
i actually think dlh is over matched vs. hearns, duran and leonard.

i wonder more realisticaly how he would have faired vs. cuevas and palomino. i see those fights as more competitive.

05-04-2008, 06:21 AM
I like Oscar De La Hoya he is a tremendous fighter whom has had a marvelous career but even on his best day he would be out of his depth against prime Leonard, Duran or Hearns. Hagler? He would CRUSH him. Oscar's no Middleweight.

However put Oscar in with guys like Norris, Palamino, Moore, Brown, Starling, Pryor, Curry, Cuevas, Benitez, Kalule, Cervantes, Breland, Honeyghan etc etc and he is right in the mix.

05-04-2008, 01:07 PM
I agree that's the right mix. He beats some and loses to some in this lot:

THink he Beats:Breland, Honeyghan

Toss up with: Brown, Palomino and Cuevas

Think he loses to: Starling, Pryor, Curry, Norris, Moore, Benitez (albeit it's a great matchup, I'd take Wilfred at 140, 147 and 154 over Oscar), Cervantes, Kalule.

I think Oscar is competitive with those selected here at 154, but I would take each listed, over Oscar of the Vargas fight.


05-05-2008, 03:18 PM
I think Oscar gets crushed by Leonard, Duran, Hagler and Hearns. I think even Benitez might have stopped him.

Oscar might - MIGHT - have hung with the bottom half of some of the top 10 of some divisions from the 80's but it's a stretch for me to see it that way.

Oscar fought from 130-160.

He'd do OK at 130 against guys like Sammy Serrano, Rolando Navarete, Boza-Edwards and Bazooka Limon and Bobby Chacon. He is so much taller than most of those guys at 130.

135 - Ain't no way he beats Arguello. Art Frias, yes. Howard Davis, probably. Rosario and Camacho, probably. Mancini and Sean O'Grady, maybe.

140 - Pryor, no. Cervantes, no. Mamby, Dujan Johnson, Johnny Bumphus, probably.

147 - Leonard, Hearns, Cuevas, Shields, Duran, NO, NO, NO, a thousand times NO! Bobby Joe Young, Adolpho Viruet, Bruce Finch, Roger Stafford and Pete Ranzany, yes. Milt McCrory, probably.

154 - Benitez, Kalule, Ayala, Jr., Clint Jackson, Mike McCallum, no. Davey Moore, maybe. Charlie Weir, Carlos Herrera, Tadashi Mihara, Tony Braxton, probably.

160 - Hagler, Dwight Davison, Frank Fletcher, Mustafa Hamsho, Vito Antuofermo, Tony Sibson, Wilford Scypion, Fully Obel, Curtis Parker, Alan Minter and Alex Ramos - NO, NO, NO. They'd all eat him for breakfast.

I know Frank Baltazar might be a bit biased, but I'd like to know his thoughts on how he thinks his boys would have matched up against Oscar. I'd also like to know what he thinks about De La Hoya vs. Robin Blake at 130-135.

T.K. Stewart

Michael Frank
05-05-2008, 06:42 PM
I agree that's the right mix. He beats some and loses to some in this lot:

THink he Beats:Breland, Honeyghan

Toss up with: Brown, Palomino and Cuevas

Think he loses to: Starling, Pryor, Curry, Norris, Moore, Benitez (albeit it's a great matchup, I'd take Wilfred at 140, 147 and 154 over Oscar), Cervantes, Kalule.

I think Oscar is competitive with those selected here at 154, but I would take each listed, over Oscar of the Vargas fight.

I feel Breland was a very polished fighter at his best with a KO punch at 147 and physical advantages that make him a favorite, in my mind, to beat DLH. Also disagree on Norris, whom I feel DLH would beat. And disagree re: Benitez, to me the least threatening of the 3-division champs, and since I think Benitez is overrated, I'll take DLH to do more of what Bruce Curry did, and defeat him.

Agree with your picks otherwise.

05-06-2008, 02:15 AM
Doesn't fight with the verve or aggressivness of a Bruce Curry.

And In a fantasy matchup, why take a fighter from a poor performance, when he clearly was not at his best physically or mentally?

Benitez's return fight with Curry showed who was clearly the better fighter.

While I see the bout going a bit longer, I wouldn't be TOO TOO surprised to see Breland go like Rafael Ruelas did agianst Oscar, albeit this being a 147 pound version of that fight.

Mark takes a bit too long to deliver is long punches. I think Oscar has the speed to get to the "mark" first and takes Breland out. I see a short hook reaching Breland's chin while he's unreeling an overhand right. Boom.

Breland was an outstanding amateur and a fine pro. I've never shown a whole lot of "love" towards Oscar, but I can't think of one performance of Breland's against an outstanding fighter, at or close to his peak, that makes me think he could beat Oscar on his best night at Welterweight. Granted Oscar never turned my head at 147. But I just can't fathom him losing to Breland.


Paulie W
05-06-2008, 05:43 AM
No argument here that DLH is out of his depth with the Fab Four or that he will struggle against some of the next level of 80's welters: Curry, Starling, Palomino.

But there are one or two names cropping up in this thread as definite or probable or possible conquerors of Oscar who do not merit that status based on what they did.

Breland is one as Hawk points out.

Ayala Jr is another. Clint Jackson? Randy Shields???

05-06-2008, 06:00 AM
To see ANYONE carve up and destroy Ayala Jr.

Based on what we DID see and not "potential" (no one screwed up Baby Bull's potential legacy other than himself), I'd say Oscar rides out an uncomfortable first 3 or 4 rounds and then butchers Tony over the next 5 or 6 and stops him bloody, bruised and broken.

And me Happy.

Who am I kidding here?

I got more joy out of seeing Yori Boy Campos kicking the snot out of Ayala than I did Barrera (a top 5 fav of mine) humbling Hamed.

I'd just pray that it would have a Vargas type of ending.


05-06-2008, 03:39 PM
Yeah, but the Ayala, Jr. that got beat by Campas was not the same animal that was a fercious beast in the 1980's.

No effin' way De La Hoya does anything with that guy.

Ayala in the 80's and Ayala 20 years later is two different fighters.

05-06-2008, 04:30 PM
Absolutely no argument there.

I'm just saying I enjoyed what Campos did. I found perverse enjoyment in that beating.

Now matching up Oscar and Ayala at their best at 154, I'm simply saying we can ONLY judge Tony from what we did see before he went to prison.

In Oscar, we would have to take the one from the Vargas bout. Proving his worth against Vargas, who while I've never been the biggest fan of his either and I don't think Vargas was a Great fighter, he still was eons better than anything that Tony faced up until he was sent away.

So while THAT Tony was infinitely better than what Campos got to beat on, I have a hard time thinking he was seasoned enough to take on the Oscar who beat Fernando.

With time and experience, maybe. But strictly from what we saw, I say no.

Oscar by Ko.