A phrase I read more often when fighting pundits discuss the career of Oscar de la Hoya is that’he hasn’t defeated a great champion in his prime.’ it’s a controversial statement to direct at a six division champ who is also the most financially successful non-heavyweight of modern times, having been involved many of the best fights of the last 20 years. I always find such statements at least a little dubious, not the least as it is sometimes the job of a reporter to stir the pot by making an arguable statement. Also, it always appears that the higher a person rises, the more some folks will try and reject what he has accomplished. However , the writers who make this claim are as acquainted with the important points of de la Hoya’s career as I am so I’ll not take the route of reviewing de la Hoya’s past opponents. Instead, I’ll examine the career of one of de la Hoya’s former rivals : Felix’Tito’ Trinidad. Nobody denigrates’Tito’ by exclaiming he never faced and defeated a great fighter in his prime, so let’s take some instruction from his career.
The early days
He was only 20 years old.
Campas wouldn’t win an international title until he moved up to 154lbs, at that point a puny division. Trinidad even toyed with moving up to 154 himself in those days, fighting an eliminator for the WBC belt held by Terry Norris in 1997.
In Feb 1999, Trinidad fought Pernell Whittaker, winning a lopsided decision victory against the slick defensive master. by that time, Whittaker was extremely far past his game. His close loss to de le Hoya had been almost 2 years before, and it had been more than a year since his tune-up fight with Andrei Pastraev. He fought only once more, losing by knockout to an unknown in 2001.
The Mega-Fight : Oscar de la Hoya
The big Sep 1999 confrontation with Oscar de la Hoya remains arguable to this day, with many commentators who are definitely not de la Hoya partisans saying that’the Golden Boy’ was robbedAs for de la Hoya’running,’ it was’Tito’ who came out of the fight with a busted up face and blood-stained trunks. Other writers simply say the fight was close and tough to score, which is fine, but then it hardly leads to a defining statement in Trinidad’s career. At best, he got away with a particularly close, disputed win over a great fighter in his prime.
victorious as a Junior Middleweight
He then met Fernando Vargas, knocking out’El Feroz’ in the 12 th and last round in an explosive bout. After Trinidad, he never got his career back on course and retired in obscurity.
Don King then set up the unification series for the middleweight title, including Felix Trinidad. In May 2001, he challenged two-time WBA middleweight champion William Joppy in his first fight at 160lbs, knocking out Joppy at Madison Square Garden in five rounds. Out boxed and roughed up,’Tito’ lost by twelve th round knockout.
Wright moved up to 160lbs, and fought Trinidad in May 2005 for the right to challenge for the WBC middleweight title. The result was Trinidad’s second defeat, an embarrassing decision loss.
Nobody argues that when the day comes,’Tito’ will deserve his place in the Hall-Of-Fame. it is beyond question that the only great fighter in his prime that Trinidad ever scored a win over was Oscar de la Hoya, and that win remains controversial and contested to this very day.
So what does this mean for Oscar de la Hoya, and all of the critics who say Oscar’never beat a great fighter in his prime?’ Simply this : the more that you achieve, the more the critics try to tear you down.