Like most true sports superstars, Oscar De La Hoya tends to be overrated by some and short-changed by others. I know some will feel I have him rated too low.
Earlier this summer, I published a top 25 non-heavyweights of all time list, and at least one commentator complained about the absence of De La Hoya from the list, even though it's hard to see how he would even be mentioned in such a conversation.
At the same time, other fans seem to have a knee-jerk reaction against any fighter who they perceive as a media "golden boy," let alone someone deemed as THE Golden Boy.
I would place De La Hoya's level of stardom as a few rungs above his level of talent as a fighter. In terms of pure box office appeal, he is one of the three or four biggest stars of the past 20 years.
As a boxer he was a great champion and a definite first ballot Hall-of-Famer. Early in his career he had wins over all-time greats Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernel Whitaker (I feel he got a gift in that one).
He had victories over many legitimate contenders, including current middleweight number two Felix Sturm, bitter rival Fernando Vargas, Arturo Gatti, Ike Quartey and Hector Camacho.
Oscar De La Hoya lost a very close decision to Felix Trinidad, who will not be making an appearance on this list (though I would make him a first or second honorable mention). I even look forward to seeing some debate over that fight in the comment section, as it is one of the most often debated decisions on Internet chatboards.
My own feeling is that De La Hoya might very well have won the fight, but I don't necessarily have any sympathy for him. He chose to run away for essentially the last third of the fight, and you can't be shocked to have a decision slip away from you when you do that.