Star power. World champion Oscar De La Hoya has explosive power in the ring, in the box office, and in pay-per-view sales. He currently rules the welterweight division and is regarded as one of the most recognized and likable athletes in the world today.
The Golden Boy is getting respect, too, from others in the ring. "Too much speed," said Wilfredo Rivera after De La Hoya stopped the game challenger in eight rounds on the "Title Wave" championship card in Atlantic City, NJ. "He's a true champion," said Hector Camacho, who took on De La Hoya in the "Opposites Attack" event. "He's the best I've ever fought and I've been in there with the best."
Following the Rivera fight, De La Hoya said, "I'm still learning and I'm still looking for a perfect performance." His personal goal is to achieve seven titles in seven weight divisions.
De La Hoya's welterweight title belt and mythical "pound for pound" crown were captured in his victory over six-time world champion Pernell Whitaker in a spirited brawl on April 12, 1997, in Las Vegas. It was a huge challenge for the Golden Boy who went up seven pounds (from 140 to 147) and took on a seasoned tricky southpaw who at times fought in a low crouch and fired from different angles. "Anytime you fight a left-hander, you're in for a difficult night," De La Hoya said. "But I got what I wanted -- the welterweight championship." Oscar has won world crowns at 130, 135, 140 and 147 pounds, and is only in his fifth year as a professional.
"I want to be considered one of the great legends in boxing, " said De La Hoya. "Late at night in camp I study many of the older fight videos. I watch many of Willie Pep's world title fights. I understand that to be the best, you have to fight world champions and undefeated fighters. That's what I want to do."
Discussing his fight strategy, under the tutelage of Jesus "The Professor" Rivero, De La Hoya remarked: "The Professor changed everything for me. I'm not getting hit as much now. I'm moving from my waist more and moving my head more. In the first couple of rounds of my fights I work on nothing but defense to frustrate my opponent. An opponent who is frustrated throws a lot of punches and leaves himself wide open. And that's when I come in with my combinations." He added, "Before I was a target. I got my knockouts but I wasn't careful about my defense. Now I'm not getting hit and I'm still knocking out my opponents."
De La Hoya's bout with the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez was Chavez's 100th professional fight. Reflecting on that night, Oscar said: "It was an honor to be in the same ring as Julio Cesar Chavez. I admired him for so many years." The Golden Boy sensed victory when Chavez incurred some injuries: "I knew I had him when I cut his eye and broke his nose with a left hook. He truly is a warrior but I knew it was over after that."
Oscar De La Hoya is a third-generation boxer, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Vicente, a 126-pound amateur in the 1940s, and his father Joel, who fought as a lightweight in the professional ranks in the mid-1960s.