Oscar De La Hoya and His World-Title Triumphs at 6 Different Weights
There doesn't really need to be an excuse to celebrate the career of Oscar De La Hoya.
A six-weight world champion who fought some of the biggest names of his generation, the Californian was a pay-per-view star in the modern era.
De La Hoya finished with a 39-6 record, with 30 of his victories coming by way of knockout.
Before turning pro, he also won an Olympic gold medal at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, Spain.
While he might not be lacing up the gloves these days, he is still at the center of the sport thanks to Golden Boy Promotions.
But this slideshow isn't about the De La Hoya who wears a suit and negotiates deals.
To mark him turning 42 on Feb. 4, here is a trip down memory lane to recall the moments De La Hoya first became a champion in each division he fought in.
Feel free to use the comments section to share your own memories of the American's career.
1. De La Hoya vs. Jimmi Bredahl (March 3, 1994)
De La Hoya started out at super featherweight and did not have to wait long for his first crack at becoming a world champion.
After only 11 fights, he was pitted against reigning WBO champion Jimmi Bredahl, a fellow unbeaten fighter from Copenhagen, Denmark.
It soon became clear which of the two fighters would be losing his perfect record.
Bredahl was down in both the first and second rounds though he battled on bravely.
However, he was unable to make it through to the final bell at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles.
In Round 10 De La Hoya won by TKO to claim the title. He would successfully defend it just once, against Giorgio Campanella, before moving up.
2. De La Hoya vs. Jorge Paez (July 29, 1994)
De La Hoya did not even bother having a warm-up fight before challenging for a world title at lightweight.
At the MGM Grand, he took on the experienced—and rather extravagant (just look at those shorts in the video above)—Jorge Paez for the vacant WBO strap.
Paez had failed in two previous bids to be a champion at the weight limit, coming out on the wrong end of unanimous decisions against Pernell Whitaker and Freddie Pendleton.
However, the Mexican did not even make it out of the second round against De La Hoya.
A pair of left hooks had poor Paez wobbling, then soon after, another saw him sink to the canvas. He never came close to getting up in time to beat the count.
What made the win for De La Hoya even more impressive was that his opponent had only been knocked down once in his previous 63 fights.
He would go on to add the IBF belt by beating Rafael Ruelas before heading for the light welterweight division in 1996.
3. De La Hoya vs. Julio Cesar Chavez (June 7, 1996)
It was a case of two boxers at the opposite ends of their careers when De La Hoya took on fellow light welterweight Julio Cesar Chavez.
The Mexican had already been involved in 98 fights, losing just once (to Frankie Randall) while also drawing with Pernell Whitaker.
However, Chavez's hopes of ending the unbeaten record of his opponent were dealt a serious blow inside the opening three minutes.
De La Hoya opened up a nasty cut above his rival's left eye with one of the many punches he landed in the first round.
Chavez's corner did its best to repair the damage, but by the fourth round, his face was a mess. Blood was flowing into his eye, affecting his vision.
An inspection by the doctor resulted in referee Joe Cortez waving off the fight—Chavez had been beaten inside the distance for the first time in his career.
De La Hoya's victory at Caesars Palace Las Vegas meant he became the WBC champion.
The rather unsatisfactory ending to their first meeting led to a rematch two years later; De La Hoya won again, this time by TKO in the eighth round.
4. De La Hoya vs. Pernell Whitaker (April 11, 1997)
Despite what the final scorecards may suggest, Pernell Whitaker gave Oscar De La Hoya his toughest fight to date when the duo clashed in 1997.
"Sweet Pea" had himself been a champion in four different divisions and had held on to the WBC welterweight title for over four years.
But his reign would come to an end at the Thomas & Mack Center outside of Las Vegas under rather controversial circumstances.
Despite landing fewer punches, and despite being knocked down in the ninth round, De La Hoya was deemed the winner by all three judges at ringside.
Scores of 116-110, 116-110 and 115-111 meant the Golden Boy followed in the footsteps of Whitaker in becoming a four-weight world champion.
The deposed champion, however, was not impressed by the verdict (h/t The Baltimore Sun):
I couldn't have performed any better. I threw a shutout. I saw it. The world saw it. I want a rematch.
He pushed hard for a second opportunity but would never get the chance to face his fellow American again.
Instead, De La Hoya defended the belt seven times before suffering his first defeat. Felix Trinidad ended his perfect record by way of a majority decision in 1999.
5. De La Hoya vs. Javier Castillejo (June 23, 2001)
Having failed to regain the WBC belt at welterweight when coming out on the wrong end of a split-decision result against Shane Mosley, De La Hoya decided it was time to move up again.
His first fight at light middleweight saw him challenge for the WBC title held by Javier Castillejo.
The Spaniard had only fought once outside of Europe before the bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
His first outing on American soil proved to be a painful one—De La Hoya was dominant throughout and knocked his rival down late in the final round.
He was unable to force a late stoppage, but it did not matter. The home favorite was awarded the fight 119-108 by all three judges sitting at ringside.
Castillejo returned to Spain to rebuild his career. He did return to the United States once more to fight, losing on points to Fernando Vargas.
It was Vargas whom De La Hoya defeated in his first defence, in the process adding the IBO and WBA Super belts to his collection.
He would also see off Luis Ramon Campas before Mosley got the better of him again, this time winning a unanimous decision.
"Sugar" Shane later revealed that he had unknowingly used steroids during his training camp for the rematch.
6. De La Hoya vs. Felix Sturm (June 5, 2004)
Chasing the big names in the twilight of his career, De La Hoya headed up to the middleweight division in 2004.
His prime target was Bernard Hopkins, and to build the bout up, the path was set for De La Hoya to make history by becoming a world champion at six different weights.
To do so, he had to get the better of Felix Sturm, a German who boasted a 20-0 record but had never fought outside of mainland Europe.
With Hopkins watching on in his dressing room having already won on the same card, De La Hoya knew that a unification match was a certainty if he could do the same.
Sturm, however, had clearly not read the script.
He made life extremely tough for the American and, according to Compubox, landed more punches than his opponent.
Despite the stats being in his favour, though, the judges were not. All three scored it 115-113 for De La Hoya.
Such was the outrage from Sturm's camp, they filed an appeal that was rejected by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Just two days after the bout, De La Hoya signed a deal to fight Hopkins. The latter came out on top when they went head-to-head, stopping his fellow American in the ninth round.