Oscar De La Hoya: The Golden Boy of Boxing

Oscar De La Hoya is a legendary American professional boxer who had a stellar amateur and professional career. In 2002, Oscar De La Hoya also ventured into boxing promotion. 16 years later, he also became a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promoter. Oscar De La Hoya turned professional in 1992 and across the span of 16 years, he captured 11 world titles in six weight classes, including the lineal championship in three weight classes. BoxRec ranked him as the 12th greatest pound for pound boxer of all time.  Nine of his victorious fights received a 5-Star rating from BoxRec. Oscar De La Hoya was nicknamed “The Golden Boy of boxing” when he won the Olympic Gold Medal during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He had just graduated high school before winning the Gold. His triumph in the lightweight class has been credited for bringing “a sport back on its feet.” Let’s find out more about this boxing legend.

Oscar De La Hoya: All You Need to Know

Who Is Oscar De La Hoya? 

Fighter Oscar De La Hoya, called “The Golden Boy,” got his beginning in boxing at a youthful age, capturing the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics at 19 years old. He proceeded to win 10 world titles in six separate weight classes. De La Hoya is easily one of the most popular boxers of all time and he generated an incredible amount of pay per view revenue during his career.

When was Oscar De La Hoya born?

Oscar De La Hoya was born on February 4th, 1973, in Montebello, Los Angeles, California, Oscar De La Hoya’s folks moved to the United States from Mexico before he was conceived. Boxing was a repeating theme of De La Hoya’s family. His granddad was an amateur fighter during the 1940s, and his dad competed professionally during the 1960s. 

Who was Oscar De La Hoya’s boxing icon?

Oscar De La Hoya started boxing at age 6. He said that as a kid, he used to get into many fights and get beat up on the street. Speaking about his start, he said “Boxing has been in my blood since I can remember. It comes naturally to me, and I’ve enjoyed it ever since I started, at the age of six.” He was a huge fan of Olympic gold medalist Sugar Ray Leonard, who turned into a mega celebrity after the 1976 Summer Olympics before he turned pro. 

Oscar De La Hoya: Early Career

At age 15, De La Hoya won the American Junior Olympic 119-pound title; he brought home the 125-pound title the following year. In 1990, he won the American Golden Gloves title in the 125-pound division and was the youngest American boxer at that year’s Goodwill Games, winning a gold medal during the event. The delight of triumph was tempered by the news that his mom was at death’s door with disease; passing away in October 1990, communicating her dream that her child would one day win Olympic gold. After one year, with a triumph in the U.S. Amateur Boxing competition (132 pounds), De La Hoya was named Boxer of the Year by USA Boxing. 

When did Oscar De La Hoya win the Olympic Gold Medal?

With the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain drawing closer, De La Hoya transformed his mom’s fantasy into a motivating factor for his preparation. After a steady triumph in the first round against fighter Julio Gonzalez, De La Hoya crushed Marco Rudolph of Germany to win gold and become the only American boxer to win the Gold medal during the 1992 Olympics.

When did Oscar De La Hoya turn pro?

De La Hoya turned pro after the 1992 Olympics, winning his first bout in a first-round knockout of Lamar Williams in Inglewood, California, on November 23, 1992. He accumulated an amazingly fruitful record during his first year as a pro, and on March 5, 1994, won his first professional title, the lightweight title of the World Boxing Organization (WBO), with a (TKO) of Danish contender Jimmi Bredahl in the 10th round of the bout. After four months, De La Hoya snagged the WBO lightweight title too, taking out Jorge Paez in the second round. 

After a closely fought win in February 1995 over John Molina, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior lightweight hero, De La Hoya took out Rafael Ruelas in under five minutes to win the IBF lightweight title and carry his record to 18-0. 

Notwithstanding De La Hoya’s status as the ‘Golden Boy’ of boxing, a few pundits thought he had just not squared up against good enough rivals. A greater part of these doubts were eradicated in June 1996, when De La Hoya confronted his greatest test to date in Julio Cesar Chavez, an accomplished and well known Mexican boxer and the undisputed World Boxing Council (WBC) junior welterweight champion. De La Hoya had fought with Chavez as an amateur and been wrecked, yet this time the tables were turned. De La Hoya pulverized heavy favourite Chavez with blows, opening notably better than the top dog’s eye before the referees halted the bout in the fourth round and announced triumph for De La Hoya. 

In January 1997, De La Hoya effectively defended his welterweight title. Climbing to the 147-pound weight class, he won the WBC welterweight title in Las Vegas in April of that year, beating the defending champ and 1984 Olympic gold medalist Pernell ‘Sweet Pea’ Whittaker, a star champion in four distinctive weight classes. With that triumph, De La Hoya affirmed his standing as the best boxer, pound-for-pound, on the planet. 

De La Hoya’s rule as welterweight champion would proceed until September 18, 1999, when he confronted the hard-hitting Felix Trinidad in quite possibly the most anticipated battle of the decade. As a record-breaking number of fans watched the bout broadcast on pay-per-view TV, Trinidad gave De La Hoya his worst professional defeat ever in a 12-round unanimous decision win for the WBC welterweight title. A second defeat in 2000 to Sugar Shane Mosely sparked rumours that De La Hoya should take a break from boxing. 

De La Hoya got back to the ring in March 2001, beating Arturo Gatti in the fifth round of his first fight after his return. On June 23 of that year, De La Hoya crushed Javier Castillejo of Spain, the prevailing WBC super welterweight (154 pounds) champion, in 12 rounds to win his fifth title in as many weight classes, coordinating with the accomplishment of his childhood icon, Sugar Ray Leonard. At 28 years old, he was the youngest boxer to have won five world titles.

Oscar De La Hoya vs Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Fight backdrop 

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr., billed as The World Awaits, was a light middleweight superfight that took place on May 5, 2007, at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada between six-division world champion Oscar De La Hoya (38–4, 30 KO) and undefeated four-division champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (37–0, 24 KO). At the time, the bout was the most lucrative boxing match ever, with over $130 million in generated revenue.

Mayweather Jr. won by split decision over De La Hoya in 12 rounds, capturing the World Boxing Council (WBC) light middleweight title.

Where was the fight held?

The fight took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada under the promotion of Golden Boy Promotions. It was fought at 154 pounds, with De La Hoya defending his WBC light middleweight championship.

Tickets sold out three hours after they went on sale on Saturday, January 27, 2007. With the sellout, the bout generated over $19 million in live gate, beating the previous record of $16,860,300 set by the June 28, 1997, heavyweight championship rematch between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson at the Thomas & Mack Center.

What happened in the fight?

The fight was televised on HBO pay-per-view, with the cost to watch the fight at $55 in the U.S.

Mayweather won by a split decision in 12 close-fought rounds, capturing the World Boxing Council (WBC) title. Judges Jerry Roth (115–113) and Chuck Giampa (116–112) scored the fight for Mayweather while judge Tom Kaczmarek had De La Hoya winning, 115–113.

How was the fight promoted?

As part of the buildup for the fight, HBO produced an unprecedented four-part prelude. The series, titled De La Hoya-Mayweather 24/7, aired installments on the final three Sundays of April, with the fourth installment airing on Thursday, May 3, two days before the fight. The series focused on each fighter’s training and preparation for the bout.

What was the issue between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather’s father?

A subplot to the fight concerned whether De La Hoya would be trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr., the estranged father of Mayweather Jr. Mayweather Sr. had served as De La Hoya’s trainer since 2001. Mayweather Sr. announced his willingness to train De La Hoya after initially declining to oppose his son, but demanded a $2 million fee in light of the enormous revenue to be generated by the fight. De La Hoya declined to meet Mayweather Sr.’s demands, making a counteroffer of $500,000 guaranteed plus an additional $500,000 contingent on De La Hoya winning the fight. Ultimately, the sides were unable to come to an agreement and De La Hoya hired the highly respected Freddie Roach to be his cornerman instead.

Although Mayweather Sr. reunited with his son at the start of Floyd Jr.’s training camp, he had no official role, as Floyd Jr. opted to retain his uncle, Roger Mayweather, as his trainer instead. Mayweather Sr. left the camp by the end of April, upset over not being chosen as trainer and by comments made by his son and brother during the taping of the 24/7 show.

Event undercard

  • United States Rocky Juarez defeats Mexico Jose Andres Hernandez via unanimous decision for the WBA Fedelatin featherweight title.
  • Philippines Rey Bautista defeats Argentina Sergio Manuel Medina via unanimous decision in a WBO super bantamweight title eliminator.
  • The Bahamas Ernest Johnson had a draw with United States Wes Ferguson in the sixth round.
  • Philippines AJ Banal defeats Mexico Juan Alberto Rosas via unanimous decision.
  • Mexico Christian Solano KOs United Kingdom John O’Donnell in the second round.
  • Australia Billy Dib defeats Mexico Jose Alberto Gonzalez by unanimous decision.
  • United Kingdom John Murray KOs United States Lorenzo Bethea in the seventh round.
  • Cuba Carlos Duarte KOs United States Calvin Rooks in the second round.
  • Philippines Jonathan Arabaca defeats Thailand Pheng Her via split decision.

How much money was generated in the fight?

The De La Hoya-Mayweather fight set the record for most PPV buys for a boxing match with 2.4 million households, beating the previous record of 1.99 million for Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson II. Around $136 million in revenue was generated by the PPV. Until, it was surpassed in 2015 by Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, which generated more than 400 million dollars from 4.6 million households in PPV buys. Becoming the most lucrative fight in history and one of the most lucrative sport events of all time. Factoring in the percentages, Oscar De La Hoya ended up earning $52 million, the highest purse ever for a fighter. The previous record was $35 million, held by Tyson and Holyfield. Floyd Mayweather earned $25 million for the fight.

Oscar De La Hoya vs Manny Pacquiao

Fight Backdrop

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao, also billed as The Dream Match, was a professional boxing welterweight superfight. The bout took place on December 6, 2008 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. Pacquiao defeated De La Hoya via technical knockout when De La Hoya decided not to continue with the fight before the start of the ninth round. The card was a co-production of Bob Arum’s Top Rank Boxing and De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and was aired live on pay-per-view (PPV) on HBO PPV. The fight is notable for propelling Manny Pacquiao to full-blown superstar status in much of the western world (mostly in The United States), as Oscar De La Hoya symbolically “passed the torch”, so to speak, to Pacquiao.

How was the fight promoted?

Despite no title belts being disputed, the bout received a lot of publicity since the two boxers were decorated, with Pacquiao being the current number one pound for pound boxer in the world as judged by The Ring, and a five-time world champion in five different weight divisions (Pacquiao was the reigning WBC lightweight champion at the time of the bout). Meanwhile, De La Hoya was an Olympic gold medalist and past holder of 10 world titles in six weight divisions.

Pacquiao had to step up two weight divisions (from lightweight), and De La Hoya had to go down one weight division (from light middleweight), to be eligible for the bout’s welterweight division.

What happened in the fight?

Manny Pacquiao thumped Oscar De La Hoya in the bout and surprised many analysts who had predicted a De La Hoya triumph. The fight concluded in the 9th round when De La Hoya’s corner threw in the towel.

Oscar De La Hoya: Pro Boxing Achievements

Oscar De La Hoya was selected as The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year in 1995. The Ring magazine also selected him as its top-rated fighter in the world, pound for pound, in 1997 and 1998. Over the course of his career, Oscar De La Hoya generated a mammoth $700 million in pay-per-view income, making him the top pay-per-view earner before he was surpassed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

Does Oscar De La Hoya have dual citizenship?

Oscar De La Hoya has held dual American and Mexican citizenship since 2002. He is an American citizen by birth and he was granted a Mexican citizenship by the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles.

Oscar De La Hoya: Best Quotes

Once, I was at a party…This was at a time when it seemed like I had everything. I was young. I was undefeated. I had money. I`d just moved into my own home. People at the party were laughing and having fun. And I missed my mother. I felt so lonely. I remember asking myself, `Why isn`t my mother here? Why are all these people around me? I don`t want these people around me.’ I looked out the window and started crying.

When people say I can’t or I musn’t, I always say I can and I will.

I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know I took everyone on.

By the time I retire, I will have fought the best. I will have made my money. Maybe I’ll be a boxing commentator. I’ll go back to school, definitely. I already have a plan. My life’s set. I’ll be on an island, married, playing golf in the sun. That will be my life.

I think about making a comeback every single day. I went running, I went training, did that for a few days. But my body couldn’t handle it.

Ever since I’ve been boxing, it’s always been the case that when I go inside the ring a switch goes off and my attitude changes totally from the person I am outside it. I really can’t explain why or how.

I wouldn’t recommend [boxing] to any child of mine. I would rather he played golf or something.

I tried to do the impossible on paper — beat the middleweight champ coming up from 130 pounds.

I feel amazing. In my life right now, I have so much motivation. I am so hungry and so determined… I am young, I am healthy and I feel great – 42 is the new 32.

I’m really happy to be working with CES Boxing, Gary Shaw Productions and Eye of the Tiger Management. It shows the direction in which Golden Boy Promotions is heading – in terms of bringing the best fights to the fans. It shows that Golden Boy Promotions is willing to work with anybody in order to satisfy the boxing fans.

It brings me great grief and sadness to hear of the passing of one of the best and most respected trainers of this era, Emanuel Steward. I learned a lot from him during our professional relationship and I will be forever grateful for his help during that time. We were also friends and I know I am going to miss him as so many others will too. He was an important part of our boxing community.

As a professional athlete and someone who has spent almost his entire life in boxing, not a day goes by when I don’t think about coming back, but I am retired, and after speaking to my family and following a great deal of introspection, I have decided to stay retired.

Oscar De La Hoya: Life Outside the Ring

Oscar De La Hoya’s top tier boxing skills and good looks made him a massive hit among fans. Outside the ring, he turned into the most popular fighter in America. He also received a lot of love and support for his charitable endeavours. In 2000, De La Hoya launched his first ever music album, in both English and Spanish, on EMI/Latin. Entitled Oscar, the collection topped Latin dance charts and the lead single ‘Ven a Mi,’ earned a Grammy nomination. 

Everything has not been brilliant for the “Golden Boy” of boxing. He lost a middleweight title battle to Bernard Hopkins in 2004. De La Hoya got away from the ring and zeroed in on different parts of his life. De La Hoya has been setting himself up for his post boxing life. 

In 2002, De La Hoya established Golden Boy Promotions, a combat sport promotional firm. He is the first American of Mexican descent to own a national boxing promotional firm, and one of the few boxers to take on promotional responsibilities while still active. In 2018, he began promoting MMA matches as well, beginning with a 2018 trilogy bout between long-time rivals Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, with the inaugural Golden Boy MMA event scheduled for November 24, 2018. He launched another real estate firm called Golden Boy Partners, which will construct retail, business, and residential complexes in areas with a heavy Latino demographic. Speaking about his post boxing life, Oscar De La Hoya said, “I feel amazing. In my life right now, I have so much motivation. I am so hungry and so determined… I am young, I am healthy and I feel great – 42 is the new 32.”

When did Oscar De La Hoya retire from boxing?

Oscar De La Hoya hung his gloves and retired from boxing for good on April 14th, 2009.

Who is Oscar De La Hoya married to?

De La Hoya wedded artist Millie Corretjer in 2001. He and his better half had their son, Oscar Gabriel, in December 2005. The couple had a daughter Nina Lauren, in 2007. De La Hoya has two other children from previous relationships. Speaking about his wife, Oscar De La Hoya said, “Ever since I met [my wife], my life has been different. I have what I want. I have my Jewel in Millie.”

What is Oscar De La Hoya’s net worth?

Oscar De La Hoya’s net worth is estimated to be around $200 million as of 2021.

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