When Trouble Looms: De La Hoya In Adversity

Day 10: After today there will be single-digit days remaining until the mega fight between Oscar Dela Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. The countdown started 10 days ago (See past articles in site archives) and each step along the way we’ve uncovered tons and tons of info, and perhaps even evidence as we learn exactly what key elements could determine the fight result. Yesterday we took a look at Oscar Dela Hoya’s Greatest Hits, today we take a look at Oscar Dela Hoya when he is on the receiving end of someone else’s ‘greatest hits’, to see how he dealt with the situation in the ring. Tomorrow we will take a look at Floyd Mayweather’s sequel version to this story as he also, (despite an undefeated record), has not always been the ‘perfect’ fighter on fight night. This look at the two fighters gives us perhaps a take on how they’ll deal with the adversity they will surely find on the night of May 5th. Oscar Dela Hoya vs Bernard Hopkins (09/18/04) In the minds of most, Oscar Dela Hoya was ‘way over his head’ in the showdown with Bernard Hopkins and the critics could never have been more accurate as the fight produced the first (and only to date) stoppage of his career where Oscar failed to remain upright through the final bell. The major flaw in Oscar’s strategy on this night was that he was a stationary target, remaining directly in front of bruising Hopkins. This was especially damaging as Oscar, although a great puncher, was in the ring against perhaps the best ‘banger’ in the game of this era. Hopkins, known for a very rough style, would live up to that reputation as he came out banging the smaller Dela Hoya from the first round. Ironically, Oscar held the lead on the score cards for the first three or four rounds but at that point, Hopkins, (always none as a slow and methodical starter), began to pick Dela Hoya apart shot by shot. The devastating beating that Hopkins began to administer culminated with a deadly shot to the liver of Oscar Dela Hoya who delayed his reaction initially, but seconds later succumbed to the pain as he hit the deck, never to stand tall again in regulation. Oscar made two major mistakes in this fight. He, (as a natural boxer), tried to slug with a natural slugger. Secondly, he totally disregarded the size advantage of the much bigger and proven Hopkins. These two acts of bad judgment would seal the loss for him. One thing to note as well, Oscar did take a preliminary fight in this middleweight division against Felix Sturm of Germany, and it appeared that he lost that fight as well but he was given a controversial nod. In short, Oscar just didn’t appear to be a good fit for this weight class and it was exposed when he fought the best fighter in this weight class, possibly of all time. Oscar Dela Hoya vs Shane Mosley II (09/13/03) This rematch to the previous fight between the two came at a good point in Dela Hoya’s career. He had recently beaten longtime rival Fernando Vargas, Arturo Gatti, and a couple other fighters and was on a career high. Despite a very one-sided affair in their previous matchup, (Shane Mosley UD12), coming into this night it seemed that Dela Hoya could do no wrong. As the fight kicked off it appeared that Dela Hoya was primed for a victory as he came out gunning for Mosley and proving to the audience that he would be much more active than the first fight. This effort was fairly successful as he landed his patented left hook along with his right cross and just about everything else in his arsenal. As great as he looked, round 5 saw a swift reminder of exactly who he shared ‘ring space’ with on this night as Mosley landed several hard body shots in response to a solid left that connected for DLH. The body shots appeared to get DLH’s attention and slowly things began to shift. DLH would regain his composure and begin to chip away at Mosley’s scorecard lead with his consistent jab but in the “championship rounds” Mosley had slowed DLH down to a fraction of himself and went into a very aggressive mode as he saw DLH had basically punched himself out. Mosley kept the heat on and eventually, (to the dismay of the crowd), would end up taking another 12 round decision. Compubox numbers appeared to show that DLH had outlanded Mosley but it would not matter as the “effective aggressor” was awarded the decision. Mosley kept the heat on from rounds 4 thru 12 and seemed to be much more aggressive than DLH who seemed to be shooting alot of shallow punches in an effort to score points rather than do damage. This loss for DLH was and still is considered to be controversial but had he done more down the stretch and not run out of gas, things would gone in his favor but his possible lack of conditioning and inability to step it up a notch in the championship rounds was his ultimate undoing. From a strategy standpoint it appeared that Oscar had employed the right strategy, but not having enough in the tank to carry it out has been an issue that has plagued Oscar for quite some time, to include his prime years. Each of these losses were results of DLH either breaking gameplan strategy, or executing it poorly while at battle. There’s no way he should have ever challenged a much bigger Hopkins the way he did and there’s no way he should have allowed himself to punch out in the early rounds and leave little in the tank against Molsey. In both cases DLH bounced back from the losses and elevated his game. One thing for sure, after suffering these losses, no one should expect him to make the same mistakes come May 5th. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s look at Floyd Mayweather Jr. and a breakdown of the fights where he failed to maintain his gameplan, as well as how it affected the outcome.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.