How are you going to remember Oscar de la Hoya, the boxer? Sitting there with his beautiful wife, Millie, trying to console him as he realizes he’s really being honored and not holding some sort of Kobe-like damage control press conference?
First, the fact he had the media spell his name “De La Hoya,” not de la Hoya. It made no sense to some of us, like those people who spell the former Dodgers’ manager’s name Tommy LaSorda. Or write about the NFL championship game as the Superbowl.
The question really should be, how can we forget Oscar? We can’t. There’s this huge statue honoring him in front of Staples Center, a place he fought … once. And lost. Right near Magic Johnson and Wayne Gretzky, who never played in the arena. And even though he officially announced his retirement in true L.A. style on Tuesday — with the mayor, George Lopez, Mickey Rourke hanging around … he’ll be around, as a promoter, in both boxing and mixed martial arts. Whatever sells. He’s still the main event.
After 16 years as a pro fighter, after he won Olympic gold in 1992, De La Hoya was as perfect a combination of a power-packed puncher as he was an L.A. glamor boy, dividing a city of fans who either thought he didn’t have enough Hispanic in him or he had too much Hollywood.
Born in East L.A. as a kid who loved to play baseball and ride a skateboard, yet raised in the TV spotlight, the 36-year-old lost four of his last seven fights as a pro — including last December in Las Vegas in an overpromoted matchup against Manny Pacquiao — after winning 223 (161 by knockout of his 229 fights as an amateur. (His fight legacy recorded at this link).
Last May, we were at the Home Depot Center to watch him grind out a 12-round decision against Steve Forbes, a tuneup for the Pacquiao. That was the last of his 39 pro wins (against six losses). It was hardly a reminder of his past heroics against the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez, Macho Camacho, Pernell Whitaker, Fernando Vargas … or his losses to Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins or Floyd Mayweather Jr. Yet, the ladies didn’t mind. They got to see him without his shirt, still looking chiseled.
The guy could make money for the sport, and still will. He’ll hold the record for pay-per-view revenue, appearances. He launched a boxing reality TV show. He was nominated for a Spanish Grammy for his singing ability. He was an internet sensation when he somehow appeared in fishnet stockings.
“I want to be considered one of the great legends in boxing,” he once said.
How about we go with “The Most Popular of All Time”?
For a kid who grew up in Hollywood seeking fame, Oscar was an appropriate name. As for de la Hoya … some will translate that to English as meaning “of the valley” or “of the jewel.”
One even translates “hoya” to “dimple.”
Again, that seems appropriate. Just spell it right.
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