Golden Boy De La Hoya Retires

April 14, 2009

Los Angeles, California - In front of a throng of reporters and surrounded by family, friends, and fans, Oscar De La Hoya officially took his boxing gloves off. By announcing his retirement this afternoon in downtown Los Angeles, Oscar De La Hoya ended an era in boxing. Among those on hand were boxer Juan Manuel Marquez, trainer Nacho Beristain, actor/boxer Mickey Rourke, comedian George Lopez, and HBO analyst Larry Merchant.

De La Hoya has unquestionably been the sport's largest attraction since the decline of Mike Tyson in the 1990's. His 19 HBO Pay-Per-Views produced 14.1 million buys and over 696 million in gross revenue (according to HBO PPV head Mark Taffet). Just as important, he paved the way for future fighters in the "light" weight classes (under welterweight) to acquire the fame and attention they deserved.

De La Hoya began the press conference by quickly announcing his retirement and, after a brief pause to gather himself, he specifically thanked his manager Richard Schaeffer, his wife Millie, and his father Joel. De La Hoya got tearful when thanking his father stating, "We've had some tough moments inside the ring...thank you for pushing as hard as you can."

De La Hoya spoke movingly and candidly about the difficulty in making the decision to retire and how sometimes he believed he had one more fight in him. "It's not easy to talk about because every time I think about it or mention it, it reminds me this was my life for the last 32 know that I won't be feeling the same adrenaline or rush that one feels when they fight, it is difficult."

Ultimately, he said, it was not fair to himself or the fans for him to continue, noting his "body doesn't respond" the way it used to. "You are always thinking 'I don't want to let nobody down'...I don't want to disappoint anyone when I get in the ring...When I step in the ring now, it's not me, it's not the fighter people grew up watching."

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke after De La Hoya and thanked him for his contributions to the city which include the building of a hospital and a high school. A special section at the press conference was reserved for Oscar De La Hoya High School students who enthusiastically cheered the Golden Boy.

Throughout the ceremony De La Hoya was fidgeting with his hands, either flexing them continuously or picking his nails. He most often looked at the ground and clearly was still struggling with his emotional decision.

His wife Millie appeared to recognize his turmoil and would occassionally whisper some words to him to cheer him up. When it was her turn at the podium she stated candidly, "I thought this would happen after the fight in December...I would have supported him no matter what, but I am a little happy that he retired."


There are two major components of Oscar De La Hoya's legacy that must be considered. The boxing accompishments and the marketing magic.

The latter is unquestioned by anyone. De La Hoya brought in more fans than any boxer of his generation at a time when boxing as a whole had very few other attractions. This phenomena went beyond his success in the ring and continued well after his best days in the ring were over. Many of these fans were women who otherwise had no interest in the sport, but came out in screaming numbers to get a glimpse of the handsome boxer.

Perhaps because of the perceived decline in the sport, De La Hoya's importance was that much more magnified. Frankly, how well could the sport have survived without him the last 15 years?

By building an empire with Golden Boy Promotions De La Hoya empowered boxers and helped stamp out some of the Don King-type promotions of the past. He has also set an example of how to use boxing as a vehicle for bigger and better things. Clearly if any fighter can leave the ring with financial security and an assurance of an exciting future career, it's Oscar De La Hoya. He set himself up well.

The boxing legacy is ironically probably underestimated. There have unfortunately been attempts in recent years to downplay De La Hoya's achievements and suggest he has been given too much credit. This is false.

After winning the gold medal in 1992, De La Hoya began his career 31-0 with 27 KOs. From 1995 until 2003 De La Hoya was in Ring Magazine's top 5 pound-for-pound list and was the pound-for-pound king in 1997 and 1998.

His first loss, in 1999, was a Don King-induced robbery to Felix Trinidad in which De La Hoya coasted for most of the last 3 rounds and still outlanded his opponent by 147 punches (263 to 116).

De La Hoya is criticized for an 8-6 record in his last 14 fights. But a lot of the criticism is unfair. All but the Pacquiao fight were competitive and every career loss was to a future Hall of Fame fighter. His only other knockout loss, to Bernard Hopkins, was during an ambitious attempt to move up and challenge one of the greatest Middleweights of all time.

Further, most believe De La Hoya deserved decisions over both Trinidad and Mosley (2nd fight). Others believe that even at 34, he arguably deserved a draw against then pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.

It is true De La Hoya was much more than just a boxer, he was a businessman. As the head of Golden Boy Promotions he will continue to influence the sport he loves in that capacity. Today however, let's appreciate the fighter in the ring. Let's appreciate that the most popular boxer of his era never ducked anyone. Let's appreciate one of the most beautiful left hooks in the history of boxing.

After the press conference, I spoke briefly with young Golden Boy fighter "Vicious" Victor Ortiz about the afternoon. He stated, "Every good thing has to come to an end. But what can you say? 10-time World Champion in 6 different weight classes...I definitely would like to go in that direction."

So should any fighter.

By Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

1 comment:

  1. Oscar schooled Tito when they fought. Trinidad's legacy should be questioned not ODLH. Tito was a one-dimensional, predictable guy who got outclassed against the elites like Oscar, B-hop, and Winky.


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