I have a friend whom I recently found out had somehow never managed to see the movie Office Space. As a cult classic with a huge and loyal following among his demographic, I took it upon myself to enlighten and educate the lad by giving him a copy of the DVD.
The next time I saw him, I asked how he had liked it and his response was that it wasn’t a great movie but it sure was entertaining. In other words, it won’t go down in history as one of the best of all-time but it was enjoyable to watch.
Such is the legacy of Oscar De la Hoya.
He never beat a great fighter who was in his prime. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. He spent a career seeking out the biggest names and the best fighters.
He went up in weight to challenge Bernard Hopkins and came down to fight Manny Pacquiao. He also tussled with the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Felix Trinidad and Shane Mosley while all were undefeated and at the top of their respective games.
The biggest names on the win side of his resume came against sub-prime versions of Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernell Whitaker. Both were at least thirty-five years-old at the time of the fight. The same age that Oscar checked in at for his matchup against Manny Pacquiao, strangely enough.
De la Hoya also won his share of fights against some quality competition.
He steamrolled Rafael Ruelas, Jesse James Leija and unbeaten Genaro Hernandez. He impounded the WBC welterweight title from undefeated, hard punching Ike “Bazooka” Quartey in a dramatic battle. And he has TKO victories over both Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga.
Contrary to what some are saying about the latter part of his career, it was never about money for De la Hoya. It's been a long time since he's been short on cash. You won’t see him standing on a corner with a tin cup and a monkey anytime soon.
Oscar sought greatness in the ring. His quest was to go down in history. Hence the two fights against the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport in Mayweather and Pacquiao.
Professional prizefighting is a mix of both sporting competition and show business. On the sporting side of the equation, Oscar will probably be remembered as being a good notch or so below great. On the show business side however, he was the greatest of his era.
In the big picture, that’s not such a bad place to be.