OSCAR DE LA HOYA w rsf 11 FERNANDO VARGAS
September 14, 2002; Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, NV
FERNANDO VARGAS had spent the best part of five years lobbying for the chance to topple Oscar De La Hoya, a fighter and man he had grown to dislike immensely. Vargas questioned De La Hoya’s Mexican heritage, he questioned his ability and – calling him Bob Arum’s ‘puppet’ – he insulted his character. In the end, Oscar, tired of the abuse and the embarrassment, accepted the fight. What followed was a truly violent battle. Vargas punished his rival in the early rounds but De La Hoya, in one of his finest performances, rallied to stop his enemy in the 11th after a truly remarkable contest. It was tainted in the aftermath, however, when Vargas tested positive for steroids and was suspended for nine months.
DID YOU KNOW? Vargas, as a teenager, jumped at the chance to train with De La Hoya at Big Bear. The story goes that when the pair were doing roadwork, Fernando lost his footing and tumbled down a hill. As he got to his feet, De La Hoya laughed at him. That is where the grudge was born. Oscar has no memory of laughing at Fernando and eye-witnesses who remember the incident insist De La Hoya was not being spiteful.
WATCH OUT FOR: Everything from the opening bell to the finish. A true thriller.