AN Olympic gold medallist and six-weight world champion from super-featherweight to middleweight, Oscar De La Hoya’s ring moniker of the “Golden Boy” well and truly befitted the man.
A Californian of Mexican descent, De La Hoya – born February 4, 1973 – is the highest grossing boxer in history, generating just short of $700 million in pay-per-view income.
After striking gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and winning well over 200 bouts as an amateur, the East Los Angeles resident picked up his first professional world title in his 12th outing, stopping the then-unbeaten WBO super-featherweight champion Jimmi Bredahl in 10 rounds.
World successes at lightweight and light-welterweight followed, before Oscar outpointed Pernell Whitaker in 1997 to claim the WBC welter crown. It was at this weight that De La Hoya suffered his first pro defeat, losing a disputed majority decision to IBF ruler Felix Trinidad in what was one of the biggest pay-per-view events in history.
Whilst operating at light-middleweight, the US Olympian contested a memorable world unification battle against the fiery Fernando Vargas. Oscar secured the victory with an 11th round stoppage after dropping his Oxnard rival with a thunderous left hook.
During the same year in which he defeated Vargas (2002), De La Hoya also established his own boxing promotional company; Golden Boy Promotions. Today, the outfit remains one of the premier corporations of its kind.
A move up to middleweight saw the “Golden Boy” secure the WBO title over Felix Sturm, although Bernard Hopkins wrested the belt from his grasp three months later with a savage body blow in round nine.
His final world championship win came at light-middleweight, where he returned from a 20 month lay-off to stop Ricardo Mayorga in six sessions. Despite subsequently losing to Floyd Mayweather Jnr (via tight split decision) and Manny Pacquiao (weight drained, he would be stopped after eight) in two monster box office bonanzas, De La Hoya’s golden legacy has lived on since he retired from the ring in 2009.