Remembering Da La Hoya vs Trinidad

Fight of the Millennium: De La Hoya vs Trinidad

A curious chapter in the long, rich & omnifarious history of Mexican-Puerto Rican fistic rivalries 

Oscar De la Hoya’s first loss inside a professional boxing ring was a defeat on multiple levels – a loss, to be sure, of that most treasured “0” but perhaps of far more long term consequence to his image within the sport was the loss of the unquestioning respect of those hardcore fans not sufficiently devoted to the memory of Julio Cesar Chavez’s greatness to have already begrudged the new incumbent his time at the top of boxing’s food-chain.

Defeat in boxing, perhaps unlike a loss in much of other professional sports can take on undertones of honor and dignified righteousness or, alternatively, ones of shame & disgrace. Tyson’s disqualification loss to Evander Holyfield an example of the latter; Chris Arreloa’s give-it-all defeat at the hands of Vitali Klitschko a case of the former. To lose is one thing – to lose in a manner not befitting the title of champion is quite another. There was something patently unMexican about the way De La Hoya sought to run down the clock by evading an opponent who was there to fight not flea.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMgl1l4WFVk

 

Oscar entered the ring with a record that stood at 31-0 with 25 wins coming by way of knockout. It is somewhat challenging to realign in one’s mind the world of boxing as it was back in the late 1990’s; so to recalibrate somewhat here’s how The Ring Magazine’s Pound For Pound List looked in 1998, the year before this match up:

1. Oscar De La Hoya
2. Roy Jones Jr.
3. Evander Holyfield
4. Felix Trinidad
5. Mark Johnson
6. Shane Mosley
7. Ricardo Lopez
8. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
9. Naseem Hamed
10. Johnny Tapia

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PdJpwViLxU

This was a true Pound For Pound clash of the highest order imaginable & with the added marketability of the Golden Boy’s box office appeal & the Mexico-Puerto Rico pugilistic heritage all combining into one night that certainly promised a great deal.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTquDAnlyvU

Action, Laurels & Relinquishing the Right To Appeal or even Complain

De La Hoya was dominant in the early rounds, accumulating a comfortable lead on most ringside observer’s scorecards, though it would transpire somewhat less so on the judge’s official scorecards. The Associated Press called it 115-113 for De La Hoya with HBO’s Harold Lederman having it all square at 114-114. Oscar chose to disengage in the latter rounds believing, falsely as it turned out, his lead was unassailable and all that was required was for him to stay on his feet to claim victory and unify his WBC title with Trinidad’s IBF strap. This strategy lost him both the fight & a certain amount of respect within the sport. After 12 rounds of action the ringside judges had it as follows:

Judge Jerry Roth scored it 115-113
Judge Bob Logist had it 115-114
And Judge Glen Hamada scores the contest 114-114

The winner and still undefeated WBC & IBF champion of the world… Felix “Tito” Trinidad!