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The Beckham of boxing?

Ben Dirs | 13:01 UK time, Wednesday, 15 April 2009

On this side of the Atlantic, I have sometimes heard Oscar de la Hoya referred to as the 'David Beckham of Boxing'. The comparison is never meant to be flattering.

De la Hoya, say his critics, was a triumph of style over substance; a cynical money-making machine (boxing historian Bert Sugar calls him the sport's "ATM"); a great brand, but not a great boxer. Beckham is familiar with such accusations, although the AC Milan midfielder, who's every bit as pretty as the 'Golden Boy', probably dismisses them as envy.

Another charge often laid against Beckham is that he's come up short on the biggest stage: five major tournaments for England and outshone at all of them. De la Hoya, too, was found wanting in many of his biggest engagements.


Pernell Whitaker made him look wretched, he squeaked by Ike Quartey, he threw away the decision against Felix Trinidad, the judges robbed Felix Sturm. He fared well against Floyd Mayweather Jr, but he was demolished by Bernard Hopkins and made to look pathetic by Manny Pacquiao in his last fight last December.

True, De la Hoya won world titles in six different divisions, but it is difficult to make a case for him being all-time top-10 in any of them. Perhaps at welterweight, but with the likes of Ray Robinson, Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns and Henry Armstrong as competition, he's hardly a shoo-in.

Furthermore, there were some Mexican fans (De la Hoya, although born in Los Angeles, was intensely proud of his Mexican heritage) who considered him slightly effete, an affront to the tradition of blood-and-guts fighters as epitomised by their beloved Julio Cesar Chavez, who De la Hoya beat twice.

But an Olympic and 10-time world champion deserves more than mean-spirited nit-picking, and the fact is De la Hoya was the most popular boxer of his age: 19 pay-per-view broadcasts in the United States, 14.1 million buys, $700m in revenue. That's a lot of people who think he's great, even if some of the beard-strokers disagree.

It should also not be forgotten that while De la Hoya didn't always come out on top in his biggest matches, at least he was always involved in the biggest matches. Quite simply, De la Hoya fought them all.

For much of De la Hoya's career, he acted as boxing's life support machine, providing regular spikes when many assumed the sport had flatlined. As recently as 2007, he and Mayweather set the boxing pay-per-view record with 2.5 million buys.

"As an attraction I don't see any way he could have been bigger," said Bob Arum, who promoted De la Hoya for much of his career. "He was huge. He was the attraction in boxing, certainly after Mike Tyson."

At least De la Hoya, unlike most fighters when they hang 'em up, has something to throw himself into, namely his own company, Golden Boy Promotions, now the most powerful in its field. Ricky Hatton's clash with Pacquiao on 2 May will now benefit from De la Hoya's undivided attention.

Like Beckham, De la Hoya may not have been the greatest. But, like Beckham, he mixed it with the best, achieved great things and was an upstanding ambassador for his sport.

"I am firm on this decision," said De la Hoya on Tuesday. "I'm convinced I'll never, ever come back." Unlike Beckham, guilty of making an ill-judged exit when he still had much to give, De la Hoya's got his timing right. Unlike Beckham, let's hope there'll be no U-turns.


  • Comment number 1.

    Good luck to him. He's always been great for the sport of boxing, and will go down as a legend, despite possibly not being quite world class. He was close to it though at times, and as mentioned, mixed it with everyone.

  • Comment number 2.

    I remember the night he beat Chavez for the first time and I thought he would be the greatest boxer ever. Unfortunately, I have to agree with your comments about De La Hoya. He was great for the sport, but, the reality is he lost all his big fights and should never have been in the ring with either Hopkins or Pacquiao, as, he was never big enough to be a middleweight and way too far in his career to move back down to welterweight when he did. He is proving to be a great promoter though and I find his cards rarely disappoint, so, good luck for the future Golden Boy!

  • Comment number 3.

    Oscar De La Hoya was once the pound for pound best fighter in the world. And his pride meant he fought the best. How the hell can anyone have the disgrace to question Oscar De La Hoya yet at the same time praise complete and utter frauds like Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton? The fact that Oscar won 10 world titles across 6 weight divisions isn't enough, is it? Yet Calzaghe beating some bums named Lacy and Kessler 9 years after winning the mickey-mouse WBO title (which wasn't even recognized until recently).Oscar De La Hoya is an all time great and a legend. His losses could've went either way. He fought a prime Trinidad, a prime Mosley, and a prime Mayweather - and the fights with Mosley and Trinidad could've easily went to De La Hoya. Oscar should've waited and just beat up two old has-beens in his 40s, I guess then he would've been a 'great' like Calzaghe.

  • Comment number 4.

    I don't think DLH had to be the greatest to have been a great fighter. I don't think criticism of him because his fans thought he was the greatest is fair either. He was a great boxer, did great things in the sport, was a huge draw, made shed loads of money and ultimately wasn't quite as good as a few others. He did lose the majority of his career-defining fights but had decisions gone for him rather than against him against Mosely (2), Mayweather and even Trinidad, no-one would have been screaming blue murder and that would have put a very different slant on his career. He won his first title at super-featherweight so it's no great shame to have found that a middleweight battle against Hopkins (now fighting at light-heavy) was a step too far. And the Pacquiao fight shouldn't be held against him too much either as quite frankly it was just the confirmation that his time was up. Don't forget Erik Morales got blasted out by Pacquiao in 3 rounds in his penultimate fight but that doesn't stop El Terribile being a lightweight great.

  • Comment number 5.

    "De la Hoya's got his timing right".

    No he hasn't. He should obviously have retired before fighting Pacquiao

  • Comment number 6.

    Why is it that if someone is not "the greatest ever" then we can't seem to give them credit for simply being "great"... doesn't that carry weight anymore???.... not only do you have to be 10 times world champion at 6 different weights, never shirk a fight - and get in the ring with the pound for pound best throughout your career... you now must be better than everyone at everything for the entire period of history to not have some chump have a pop at you!... crazy...

    De La Hoya was almost definitely not as good as Sugar Ray Robinson... but is that the point???.. he was great in his own era... he kept some credibility in boxing whist everyone else in the sport did all they could to not fight each other - he was the only one who took on all-comers at all weight divisions that he realistically could... and guess what... sometimes he got beat... well in my opinion that makes him even better!... the guy had guts and didn't mind getting sweaty to "earn" (as i think he did) his money

    I'm not on here to slag off Calzaghe (Lacy and Kessler aren't bums Mr HBO)or Hatton who also are "great" fighters in their own right ... but i don't know many people who would argue that DLH wasn't an alltime great...

    Ben - i think your blogs are usually good - and i think your point is that you like DLH... but the negative writings/side of the argument is really not needed - as sometimes just because two sides of an argument can be made - they aren't equally sensible....

  • Comment number 7.

    Massive gloves up and much props for The Golden Boy

    Never shirked a challenge. Thats the salient point for me. Better to fight the best and come up short than continually dodge the bullets. Completely different class to Calzaghe and Hatton as Boomshakalak mentions - then again for me Calzaghe is a class above Hatton but thats another matter.

    One other point I would like to mention, the true "class" of DLH was and is to be found in his great attitude and demeanour. Never one to talk trash just to add bums on seats (he didnt need to), a respectful and articulate voice of boxing, which guys we sorely need more of. I guess this is what you are thinking of when you mention his "effete" nature Dirsy - good choice of words, sure you had to think long and hard of that one to avoid any homophobic accusations. Yeah he spoke softly and was mild mannered but dont think he is less revered in Mexico as a result. Think they love Chavez more because he is Mexican born and raised, whereas DLH has Mexican ancestary. Surely thats more accurate picture no? And if Mexicans were as you say, dont think Gael Garcia Bernal would be quite as popular considering some of the roles he has played. So I think your wide of the mark here Ben, but thats ok cause ur usually bang on

    Thanks for the memories DLH

  • Comment number 8.

    boomshakalak - I disagree, I think the negative side of the argument is needed, because that's how a lot of people will view De la Hoya's career. As Bob Arum said yesterday, "as a fighter, I was disappointed with the end result." Whether you think that view is sensible or not, it is a view held by many.

    calydon_road - But Gael Garcia Bernal isn't a boxer, my point was that Mexicans love their fighters to be of a certain type, ie. the Chavez, Barrera type.

  • Comment number 9.

    Ben, it's true that he lost a few of his big fights, 6 in total. But who did he lose against? Exactly, he's lost to the 'who's who' of boxing in the last 10 years. You also seem to almost gloat how he won a couple of decisions, but he also dropped some shockers as well which you seem to discount - For me the Trinidad result was one as he'd obliterated him for the 1st half of the fight and cruised the last 3 as he thought (as well as most other people) that he was miles ahead.

    To compare Oscar to Beckham is laughable and almost insulting, DLH in no way shape or form is a show pony. The guy wasn't one to pit pat then run, he's been involved in some of the best tear-ups in recent times and hasn't been scared of getting his hands dirty. Did he get in the ring with Hopkins because he thought it'd be a good pay day? Or because it was a massive fight and a chance to take on another future hall of famer? It's a big risk to get involved with Hopkins just for a pay day, and for the record: DLH was losing via split decision at the time of him getting KO'd, so it's hardly like he got 'demolished' now is it?

    It's not all about the "zero" that you have on your record that determines greatness, in my mind he's the greatest there's been in the last 10 years and by a distance as well.

  • Comment number 10.

    Sorry, but Beckham is such an over-rated football player... Who said he was one of the best.

    Good, but hardly in the leagues of the best

  • Comment number 11.

    Also would like to add, DLH, p4p, is leagues better than Joe Fraud-Zaghe and Hatton

  • Comment number 12.

    Comparing Beckham to DLH is not entirely accurate.

    Beckham has never been considered by knowledgeable football fans to be a great....sure he is a good player but famous more due to media hype rather than exceptional achievement.

    For me DLH may not have been the best in his era but he was far more than style over substance.

    He was a warrior....fought all comers....and as said by many others...avoided no one...few modern fighters apart from the likes of Holyfield can claim that.

    In the days of alphabet titles and fighters running scared of each other he had no fear....ultimately this is why he was beaten....but at least he put his reputation on the line..

    This is why he is respected and has a legacy.....Calzhage may have an unbeaten record but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny....both him and Sven Ottke....your legacy is based on who you fight and when....waiting until fighters are old and finished just doesn't count Joe (you said so yourself in your autobiography)...

    So Oscar, you were quality and a real fighter....good luck

  • Comment number 13.

    De la Hoya clearly left it too late; his recent loss to Pacquaio has tainted his unquestionably successful career such that the majority now try to look at his failings rather than his brilliant achievement of winning titles in six different divisions.

    One poor decision - to fight Pacquaio, for all the wrong, money-grabbing reasons - should not take away from what he did. He was undoubtedly a truly great fighter; he was a ten-time world champion.

    As for his legacy in Mexico, that is not his problem. Not blessed with the gifts of the traditional Mexican slugger, the fact that he was so successful is reason enough to have pride in him.

    Ben - Surely this is too negative an article, and to compare him to Beckham is a completely unfounded comparison; boxing is endlessly different to football, and Beckham's achievements pale in when compared to those of De la Hoya.

  • Comment number 14.

    coxy0001 - "he's lost to the 'who's who' of boxing in the last 10 years". So you agree with me then (perhaps you didn't read the paragraph that read: "It should also not be forgotten that while De la Hoya didn't always come out on top in his biggest matches, at least he was always involved in the biggest matches. Quite simply, De la Hoya fought them all.")

    Not sure I do any gloating either - I simply state he got a dodgy decision against Sturm.

    How is a comparison with Beckham in any way insulting? The whole point is, when Beckham gets in the ring, he's not a "show pony" either. He's an extremely hard-working player who gives everything for his side, just as De la Hoya could be a gritty fighter who gave everything in the ring. My point is, on the biggest stage, both often came up short and their popularity owes as much to their extra curricular activities, image etc than to their feats in their chosen sports.

    As for Hopkins - did you see the fight? Looked like he was getting demolished to me, not sure what fight the judges were watching.

    Greatest of the last 10 years? It's all about opinions, but not sure how you can say that when he's lost six of his 14 fights in that period and lost almost every big fight he's had.

  • Comment number 15.

    Ben - fair enough... i was probably a bit prickly when i read it...and the title is deliberatley provocative from you i am sure!

    If you want a footballer to compare him too then maybe Ronaldo (brazilian) would be more relevant.. i.e. was regarded as the best in the game at his prime (something beckham never was) yet at the twighlight of his career we all look on thinking that we maybe could have been blessed with even more from him....if only....

    it just seems all too easy to let great achievements get lost in specific criticisms.... Bob Arum may well be correct and he may well be disappointed with "the end result" given the fact that De La Hoya was so good and promised so much ... but likewise if every fighter that puts on a pair of gloves can emulate half... or even a tenth... of what DLH did then that would be a huge positive for the sport and that individual should be considered a success...

    excuse the football analogy, but as you started it with the beckham one - someone like Shearer wasn't as good as Pele, or even as good as Bobby Charlton.. or he didn't even score as many as Lineker - it doesn't make him rubbish or not a "great".. and DLH did so much more for his sport and achieved so much more than an Alan Shearer that sometimes it would be nice to just celebrate the achievements of people rather than try and compare them....

    To keep my point going - Ken Buchanan (someone you and many others have rated as the greatest british boxer of all time - and rightly in my opinion) came up short a couple of times in his career (forget his last fight as like De La Hoya - he was clearly past his best) - namely to Roberto Duran (despite the controversial knockout - Duran was well ahead)... but just because he was beaten by another great does that stop him being a great himself?... he is an International boxing hall of famer and was 1970 American boxing writers fighter of the year (beating Ali and Frazier)... he is great... no doubt... by todays over hyped standards he is "Super Great"... even "really super duper great".. yet no doubt people can throw the "he only did it at one weight" argument at him... "he dodged fights" (Pedro Carrasco) argument... but do you know what .. he was still great... and arguably the best british fighter ever!

    If you also look at Bernard Hopkins - who at 43 you guys at the BBC rate as the #3 pound for pound fighter in the world today - is he less great because he has lost to other greats...

    Ali lost to Frasier in his prime.... is he also no good now??? in todays modern era where we don't only demand people win every fight (Calzaghe) but also fight everybody at every weight (DLH) and then somehow have imaginary fights with people from diferent eras and maybe the terminator and the predator, rambo and king kong... and if they ever take so much as a punch in reply they are tossed to one side and rubbished....

  • Comment number 16.

    So what if De La Hoya 'lost' some of his big fights? Fools like Ben Dirs are the exact reason why boxing isn't the sport it used to be. Ben, maybe you fantasize over undefeated records and 'the bum of the month' records with their 0's intact but this is the exact reason why the UFC and MMA are so popular now - because clowns like Joe Calzaghe won mickey-mouse titles and then bored the boxing world for the best part of a decade. It's sad that you don't mention the fact that Shane Mosely admitted to being on performance enhancing drugs in their rematch. Likewise it's a pity that you don't mention that Oscar could've easily won the first Mosley fight - as well as the fight with Felix Trinidad. Yes, Oscar got a dodgy decision over Sturm - but Calzaghe got one over Hopkins - did you write about that when Calzaghe retired? You make me sick. Oscar is a living legend and an all time great. How dare you.

  • Comment number 17.

    boomshakalak - I don't think anyone's rubbishing De la Hoya as such, it's just what people do when sportsmen or women retire, they try to put them in some kind of historical perspective. To be honest, it's glorified pub chat, but interesting nonetheless. I think a couple of peope have misinterpreted my Beckham analogy - by making the comparison, I wasn't trying to belittle either of them. I was rather trying to make the point that their legacy will be as much about what did in the ring/on the pitch as what they did outside/beyond, and that their fame and popularity don't necessarily equate with their achievements. I think Paul Scholes is a "greater" footballer than David Beckham, but is he as popular and will his legacy be as great? The answer to both is no.

  • Comment number 18.

    Ben - Comparing De la Hoya to Beckham is not insulting, just not accurate. Comparing them because they were both 'hard-working', now that is insulting. There are plenty of hard-working pretty-boy footballers, but the point is that De la Hoya has achieved so much more than Beckham in his sport.

    Champions League and Premier League medals do not match up against ten world titles, at six different weights.

    De la Hoya was the definition of a pound-for-pound fighter; and he was also courageous, given that he always fought the best. Yes, sometimes he got beat up, but he deserves more respect than Beckham, who cowardly turned to the American fairground when the going got tough, even though he really was better.

  • Comment number 19.

    Mr. HBO - I make you sick, you make me laugh. It's supposed to be a civil chat about De la Hoya's greatness, or not, whatever you think the case to be. The facts are that De la Hoya, in the last 10 years, had 14 fights and lost six of them. There's no shame in that, and I'm not saying it makes him a bum, but if we're having a discussion about how great he is, then it's relevant - would you not agree?

    And yes, funny you should mention it, but I did mention that I thought Calzaghe got a dodgy decision over Hopkins - and some of the blokes on here will probably remember that I got absolutely buried for it, with some punters calling for me to resign! Have a look at this if you don't believe me

  • Comment number 20.

    TechnicallyPerfect - "Champions League and Premier League medals do not match up against ten world titles, at six different weights." Doesn't it? Well, it's impossible to quantify really, football's a team game, boxing's an individual sport. By your reckoning, Paul Gascoigne was rubbish because he only ever won one FA Cup.

  • Comment number 21.

    Honestly Ben you need to stick to cricket as you're way out of your depth in a boxing discussion.

    Ben Dirs "Unlike Beckham, guilty of making an ill-judged exit when he still had much to give, De la Hoya's got his timing right. Unlike Beckham, let's hope there'll be no U-turns."

    Got his timing right??

    He should of quit the sport after the Mayweather fight... maybe even after hopkins beat him. He had nothing more to give at the very top level as clearly evident in the one sided beat down in the pacquiao fight. Because of Oscar boxers like Floyd and Manny have been chasing the big money fights that come with his name instead of giving the "real" boxing fans the fights we have been craving for.

    Floyd vs cotto
    Floyd vs Tony M
    Manny vs JMM 3

    All these genuine fights have been stiffled by the $$$ that a fight with oscar brings due to the mindless purchasing of the casual US boxing fan who still buys into the HBO hype machine.

    He has been great for the sport but should of left years ago.

    Oscar vs Hatton at wembley?? HAHAHA would rather see Bruno fight Frankie Dettori.

  • Comment number 22.

    Jammy_2008 - Deary me, there are some arrogant so and sos on here today. Try telling Oscar he didn't get his timing right - how much did he make from those fights with Mayorga, Mayweather, Forbes and Pacquiao? De la Hoya doesn't give a monkey's about the affect the timing of his retirement has on boxing - and rightly so, he's in the money-making business, for himself. As far as any boxer is concerned, he times his retirement right when he's made as much money as he can and bows out without getting hurt. Which is exactly what he's done. There you go Jammy, a point made without resorting to personal abuse. Give it a go, it will give you a warm glow.

  • Comment number 23.

    It wasn't personal abuse. It was a legit comment using your blogs as evidence.

    Lets be honest here... De la Hoya probaly could of retired and would never have to work again after the second mosley fight. He's absolutely stinking rich. Therefore the only reason he carries onto fight is to secure his legacy...

    You say he got out at the right time?

    I say hagler got out at the right time... Lewis got out at the right time.. Calzaghe got out at the right time....

    Oscar.. no chance.

    He was shot to pieces in the forbes fight, can you imagine the fighter that beat quartey and vargas getting tagged by a blown up featherweight as much as he did... it was awful.

    The pacman fight was a joke... great, oscar got some more cash from it, i'm sure it'll really make a difference to his lifestyle.. the things people can buy with $400 million dollars that people with £375 million can't is unlimited (can you smell the sarcasm).

    By staying around he has merely harmed his own legacy, possibly harmed his health and definately damaged the sport as the top fighters are looking for a payday off him instead of giving the fans the epic battles we can clearly see are out there.

    What's next Ben? A Ryan Giggs and Holyfield comparison?

  • Comment number 24.

    Looks like its getting heated on here again! Oscar had a great career and may not have won some of his biggest fights, but 10 world titles is more than a lot of "great" fighters have won and more than any average boxer could ever hope for. He attracted great crowds and may not have had the grit of some Mexican fighters, but the people claiming he has no Mexican spirit would probably have complained that he never recognised his heritage had he gone the other way and ignored it. I saw the ODLH vs Pac Man fight and was truly gutted, I wanted Oscar to have that one huge fight left and maybe had he had it at a more suitable weight for himself against someone in that weight class, maybe he might have, but as everyone saw, that was too far for him to come down and Manny is certainly getting better and better, cant wait to see what him and Hatton can do in a few weeks, just hope Hatton has been off the pies!

  • Comment number 25.

    This is about showing respect to a fantastic and very brave fighter not comparing him to other sport super stars. Give him a moment and share your favourite memories of him.

  • Comment number 26.

    the promoter in dhl had taken over in his last 5 or so fights.all i seen was dhl matching himself in huge money generating fights were he would promote and make the most money.i didnt like him for that too much but thats boxing and yes he didnt duck any top fighters and his record speaks for itself.i liked the Mayorga fight were he was in a real fight with the bully and won but the sham of the felix stern fight to set up the hopkins fight was pure boxing politics and cheating and showed all thats wrong with knew he had lost,Stern won that.

    dhl is a super rich man and will become the biggest promoter in the world.boxings a life long career for him so hes doesnt need to be wished good luck etc as hes a made man and has his health to enjoy the money.

  • Comment number 27.

    Clearly there are a few overly sensitive ODLH fans on here!!

    Personally I don't see the big problem in compairing ODLH to Beckham. Both were never the best in their chosen profession's BUT both have made a hell of a lot of money desipte this... And both haved happened to achieve a lot of success personally. (i.e 6 titles at different weights/Champ League/Premiership medal etc).

    P.S - Good blog Ben as ever. Its good to see you backing up your arguement!

  • Comment number 28.

    The Beckham analogy is fitting.

    De La Hoya was one of but not quite the best in his business, and combined that sporting talent with good looks and great business acumen to gain a bigger reputation and bank balance than any of the few superior competitors in his sport.

    Ditto Beckham.

  • Comment number 29.

    the word legacy is branded about far to much in all for dhl being the beckham of boxing,yes thats a fair point in terms of the money making side as both dhl and beckham generate the most cash in their choosen personal opinion of beckhams "legacy" is that he is all style and not alot of substance.he wouldnt even figure in the top 100 footballers of all time.its just that the beckham brand is such a strong money spinner that he will be remembered on the otherhand is both,a man whos won many many titles and also made huge money himself so in my book his legacy is better.

    in terms of beckhams england career how can he be called a legend when with england he hasnt won a single world cup etc.WINNERS make legends thats the whole point of sport to compete and win.the taking part nonsense is for losers.keep that in mind when you hear legacy or legend mentioned in a sportsmans or womans career.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think theres too much emphasis placed on his money generating image. Take that away and your still left with a class boxer. I cant see how anyone can really question his calibre and say he is "substance over style".

    Only Hopkins - a boxing legend himself can claim to have beaten im emphatically. The Oscar in the Pacquaio fight was clearly not comfortable with the weight.

    The standard of opposition he has fought is nothing short of phenomenal when you consider how easy it is to pick and choose in the modern environment. If anything its made all the more impressive considering how much money he could have made from risk free fights and going down defending an alphabet title against mandatories route.

    The article here seems to be offering a more general overview encompassing various views but when its said and done Id much rather have Oscars legacy where hes tried and tested against the very best than a shallow unbeaten record.

  • Comment number 31.

    Ben - The fact is that you can't really compare a sport like boxing to football so from the begining of the article you were likely to be criticised, im afraid i have to agree with Jammy_2008 about timing because when he was at the stage in his career at the Manny fight he was already hugely rich so the money wouldn't really matter and in the end the only thing which was apparent after the fight was that, Pacquaio is a class fighter in his prime and that Oscar should have hung up the gloves because he could have been seriously hurt when taking a beating like that, and for what exactly? a few extra millions? Also what good is it having the extra money if you have been harmed as a result of the fight and suffer from the injuries. Having said that it was an interesting and entertaining blog to read.

  • Comment number 32.

    To compare De La Hoya to Beckham is simply insulting. Beckham is mediocre at best, never been the best (or second best) player in any team he's been in. De La Hoya won world titles and may have lost fights but was at least world class. Beckham is only world class at PR.

  • Comment number 33.

    If we're saying Beckham isn't a great because he's never won a World Cup... that applies to a lot of other people who have had the misfortune to be great players in bad teams. One might as well say the same of, say, Luis Figo, Roberto Baggio, and various other players.

    No, the reason Beckham isn't a great is that, when the big occasion came round, he was outshone by other members of his OWN team. Who still didn't play particularly well. In the 2006 World Cup, England were infinitely better when Beckham was substituted on several occasions (by Aaron Lennon): he was never fully fit, and he was never fully fit for the 2002 World Cup either.

    Back to boxing, Calzaghe got into the ring with whoever was willing to fight him - which did not include Ottke. He didn't fight Jones or Hopkins until it was too late because Hopkins was too light (middleweight and light-middleweight, which Calzaghe couldn't get down to) and Jones too heavy (he had moved up to heavyweight since the days of Benn, Eubank, Nunn and Toney at super-middle, before Calzaghe reached that weight), neither actually remained at his weight. Ottke wouldn't fight him and eventually retired, Mundine called him out but got beaten... Calzaghe fought the people who were there to be fought. By the time of meeting Jones and Hopkins, ALL of them - including Calzaghe - were past their best. A prime Jones and Hopkins would have spanked the past-it Calzaghe who faced them - but would they have spanked a prime Calzaghe, in the days when he still had the punching power that he sacrificed in his later career in order to maintain his speed?

    Similarly with Hatton. He's beaten everyone they put him in with, except Mayweather, and it'll be good to see him against Pacman.

    And similarly with ODLH. He fought everyone that was willing to stand in front of him. And he didn't win them all, but he did well enough.

    Oscar, Hatton, Calzaghe - not a fraud among them. None of them ducked anyone that was actually at the right weight and willing to fight them.

    But the Beckham comparison holds with Oscar - he was found wanting against the very best people of his time. In his case, he gave a good account of himself but it wasn't quite enough: in Beckham's case, on the big occasions he was not fully recovered from injury, and in any case he never quite knew what his team role was, and his team played better when he was replaced because it's better to have 11 fully fit players (or even 10 - the best that England played in the last World Cup was with 10 men after Rooney was sent off and Beckham limped off, but they still didn't win.)

  • Comment number 34.

    Jammy_2008 - I think you want to re-read your opening sentence sir. I'm sorry, but this idea that De la Hoya isn't interested in money just doesn't make sense. The man is a businessman, and a very good one, and driven businessmen don't suddenly turn round and decide they've got enough money, they carry on making money for as long as they possibly can, which is exactly what he did. What do you think he does with his money, bathe in it? He's got loads of businesses, not just his promotional company, which is the principle reason he boxed as long as he could, to maximise his earning potential.

    FairPlayMotty - Beckham's "mediocre at best". That's right mate, that's why he's played for Man Utd, Real Madrid and AC Milan...

    Mano - "Id much rather have Oscars legacy where hes tried and tested against the very best than a shallow unbeaten record." Totally agree, no-one's claiming Sven Ottke's better than De la Hoya.

    I would just like to sign off by saying that no-one's slagging De la Hoya off here, it's just a discussion about his legacy. Is he great? How great is he? That sort of thing. And you might be surprised to read some opinions of him in the American press today - I was, the consensus seemed to be he was a great fighter, but not one of the all-time greats.

  • Comment number 35.


    At world class level, Beckham is mediocre at best. AC Milan are not the club they were before Italian football imploded. Nobody who is world class would play for LA Galaxy which you conveniently left out of your list mate!

  • Comment number 36.

    De la Hoya is the most overrated boxer ever. He was not a real boxer and never will be. Other then winning gold in the olympics and having a good start to his career by beating up on old boxers he never did ####, and excuse my language but I say this because he's truly a dissapointment. His boxing career as a fighter falls way short to what was expected of him coming out of the olympics. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt though because his boxing career as a business man or promoter really flurished. By using his very popular name to promote his fights he was able to make a lot of money off of them even though he lost by a very lobsided margin. Good luck to him he certainly has a future as a promoter, but is Oscar De La Hoya a great fighter? I was NEVER convinced......
    Most of his belts or championship victories were by mediocre competition or guys past there prime. I have been boxing fan for over 12 years, he beat Chavez a old man and everyone thought highly of him. While welterweight he barley pulled off a decision over Whitaker people thought he was the best welter. When he moved up 154, he decided to fight Javier Castillejo(Who is he), anyway he was a belt holder,he beat him only by decision. People thought he was awesome, Delahoya got full of himself. Then when he moved up weight to160, he picked out Sturm. Thinking he was going to get another easy win, it was one of the most hilarious fights ever. Delahoya got a beating, but robbed the decision do to glamour. POINT IS HE, PICKED OUT FIGHTS, TO MAKE HIMSELF LOOK GOOD. HE NEVER BEAT REAL CLASS A OR B+ FIGHTERS. There is another boxer out there who gets away with glamour too, but I will not mention it in this post.

    The 6 different weight classes will probably be done again if you count the trinkets like Oscar won. No one ever considered Oscar a middleweight champion and most thought he was given a gift against Strum to keep the Hopkins fight intact. The titles in 6 different weight classes is very over blown.If Manny beats Hatton he will have accomplished the same thing. He won titles at flyweight, super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight and with a victory this May will be the linear champion at super lightweight. That would be 6.

    This isn't like Henry Armstrong being the champ at 3 weight classes in one year. That will never be done again. There are so many belts now that there will be lots of fighters getting titles in 6 weight classes.

    (Heard if from an prof Boxer).

  • Comment number 37.

    Ben you're missing the point. You said he retired at the right time. I'm saying he didnt because he was shot to pieces and didnt need the cash by the time of the pacman fight.

    Ok... i'm not saying that he doesn't want to earn more.. but as you said he has other business interests and is arguably the no.1 promoter in the sport so why tarnish his legacy and put his health in jeopardy by shrinking down to a weight he could not perform at even where he has below 20% of himself to make a few million on top of an already massive personal fortune.

    I was pulling apart your ending comment... not debating oscars career as a great.

    If you want my view on that subject I will divulge...

    In my opinion he should of got the nods in both the tito and the second mosley fight. if he wins these fights his resume reads like a who's who of 90's welterweight and lightmiddle weight names. A lot of people forget how good a fighter oscar was in the lower weights... he dismantled chavez, ruelas, hernandez with ease and awesome punching power... would of taken out Kostya tzsyu with ease if they fought (oscar all wrong for KT).. but instead he went up to welter and fought some of greats of our era.

    Oscars downfall was that he seemed to gas down the stretch in his biggest fights. It cost him the tito and mosley 2 decisions... and arguably it cost him the mayweather fight though floyd's class was always likely to shine through.

    He was also an Olympic champion, a fine ambassador for the sport, took on all comers and a former ring magazine p4p no.1.

    All time great?? depends what weight we are talking about... at 147 or 154 i think he gets beat by robinson, hearns, leonard, armstorng.. but i would have him in there with napoles and benitez.

    As a fighter at 135 or 140 he would give everyone probelms who EVER fought at those weights (excepetion maybe pryor). Even duran at 135 he would give fits too as his countering left hook was a nightmare for aggressive come forward fighters.

    One of the best fighters in the 90's... BUT STAYED IN BOXING A FEW TOO MANY FIGHTS!

  • Comment number 38.

    FairPlayMotty - "At world-class level Beckham is mediocre at best". That doesn't make sense. So you're saying he's not one of the best players in the world? But that's what I'm saying.

    Yes, he went to LA Galaxy - but he's come back again because he realised he made a mistake. I'm not saying he's an all-time great, that's the point of this blog, but to dismiss him as "mediocre" is just lazy. He's a very good player, just not one of the greats. A 'mediocre' footballer is Vinnie Jones, not David Beckham.

  • Comment number 39.

    This is putting things into perspective and there's a lot of over-inflated, sentimental waffle here from misty-eyed De La Hoya fans. Let's get it straight, he fought great fighters but wasn't a great - but a very good fighter.
    The likes of Mayorga and Vargas had already been destroyed by Trinidad by the time De La Hoya stepped in and the Hopkins fight was a farce, while he scooped fortunate decisions against Whittaker, Sturm and Quartey and lost a huge amount of credit for running against Trinidad (and then blaming his trainers afterwards).
    The Mayweather fight (despite the bizarre split decision) showed you everything - style over substance. While Mayweather moved, weaved, flicked and comboed DLH all night, his opponent pulled a few grizzly faces, growled and threw air flurries which got a few cheers. That was a great v very good fight right there.

  • Comment number 40.

    Beckham under achieving on the big stage? Are you kidding me? He's one of the best midfielders of all time. Without Beckham, England wouldn't have got to the 5 major tournaments. You can't pin England's failures on Beckham.

    As for De La Hoya I agree on almost everything you said.

    I think I can see where you are coming from with the comparison, in terms of Beckham being the poster boy of football and the main attraction, which De La Hoya was, but to say Beckham underachieved it ridiculous.

  • Comment number 41.

    "He's a very good player, just not one of the greats. A 'mediocre' footballer is Vinnie Jones, not David Beckham."

    Beckham is a 'Great' no question about it. I can't believe any English football fan would disagree with that.

  • Comment number 42.

    Enjoyed the blog which made some good points and the comparison is fine in my opinion.

    I also enjoyed the comments and the replies.

    DLH has retired at the right time and made a lot of money, smart fella and great boxer.

  • Comment number 43.

    Ben, you comparing Oscar to Beckham is an insult because you're comparing what you think are two PR guys. Fact is a boxer gets into the ring knowing full well the life-ending dangers involved, how does Beckham stepping foot onto a pitch even come close to comparing to what DLH put himself infront of?

    Ok Ben, i put this to you - If Oscar had only lost 2 of his 'mega fights' (and he had a shed load) then he probably would have been regarded the best of all time? I think you may be looking at him from a slightly ignorant stance (and that wasn't meant as a slant on you), he's taken on world class, no, hall of famers for the last 10 years. Yes he's dropped some decisions, but what Oscar has done is more than dropping decisions, he quite simply carried boxing through its darkest hour.

    You can be objective and say he lost this fight, lost that fight, but not even Pacman can go through 6 weight divisions beating the fighters Oscar did for titles.

    Again, it's not about the "zero" Oscar is being measured on, well, in your case it obviously is and although he lost a few fights i hold him far far higher esteem than anything we've produced in the last 10 years by an sbsolute mile. He could have taken the easy route through his career, not only do i think you're underestimating Oscar i think you're underestimating the oppo he was up against - When did he lose to anyone who wasn't a future hall of famer?

    Does his record compare to Calzaghes? No. Is he held in far higher esteem because of what he's done for the game, who he's had wars with because the game needed it (regardless of dropping a decision), yes!

  • Comment number 44.

    buddy i don't know what you have got against david beckham but its most certainly harsh. He has been the face of english football for the last ten years and a great deal of this has been to do with his on the pitch performances. Beckham should be up there with bobby moore in terms of status and what he has done for the english game.

  • Comment number 45.

    Have to say, this is getting pretty funny. I've apparently insulted Beckham by comparing him to DLH, DLH by comparing him to Beckham, some people think DLH was rubbish, others think he was the best of the last 10 years, some people think Beckham is medicore, others think he is the best England player since Bobby Moore... pretty much what I expected really.

    gregityke - Not sure how many times I have to say this, but I haven't got anything against Beckham, I just don't think he will go down as an all-time great, in terms of his performances on the pitch. Hilariously, someone further up claims anyone who knows anything about football knows he's not a great, so I suppose some might accuse me of sitting on the fence...

    coxy0001 - Nope, never said I was comparing two "PR guys", I simply said... can't be bothered writing it again, I suggest you just go back and read what I've written above. "Yes he's dropped some decisions, but what Oscar has done is more than dropping decisions, he quite simply carried boxing through its darkest hour." So you agree almost exactly with what I said then: "It should also not be forgotten that while De la Hoya didn't always come out on top in his biggest matches, at least he was always involved in the biggest matches. Quite simply, De la Hoya fought them all. For much of De la Hoya's career, he acted as boxing's life support machine, providing regular spikes when many assumed the sport had flatlined." Pretty similar?

  • Comment number 46.

    Actually, a knowledgeable fan will tell you Beckham IS a great player, or at least was. A quick glance at his career assist record will put that straight. The ridiculous assist per game record he had in his 270ish games in the premier league shows how consistent his delivery is. In fact, he is a player who is efficient and consistent rather than flashy. He was a great player before he married posh spice, and he is still capable of better and more consistent deliver than most players.
    No, he isn't one of THE greats. He was never the best player in the world. He didn't dominate any international tournaments, although there are only a priviledged few who do.
    But he was/is a great player, a player worthy addition to most top sides. And despite his huge fame, wealth, career achievements and striking good looks, he never acts like a prima donna.

  • Comment number 47.

    I don't really know whether to burst out laughing or cry when reading some of these comments. Are people so quick to offer misguided criticism that they can't be bothered to read what they are commenting on?

    I simply interpreted that Ben was drawing a parallel between the facts that Beckham & De La Hoya, while both being 'great' at a point in time in their respective sports will no doubt be remembered as much for the marketing and PR swirl that seemed to surround them 99% of the time.

    That's all I read, no more no less. Perhaps I've missed the point too and should throw in some random insults to make myself feel better.

  • Comment number 48.

    "FairPlayMotty - "At world-class level Beckham is mediocre at best". That doesn't make sense."

    At world class level, there are different categories of player. Otherwise, all world class players would be equal. Do you think that Cruyff, Pele, Maradonna etc. were all equal? When judged either against world class players of his own generation or all time great world class players, Beckham is mediocre at best. Which part of that don't you understand mate?

    He is way better than any footballer that has ever lived at PR.

    "Yes, he went to LA Galaxy - but he's come back again because he realised he made a mistake."

    He signed a big money contract because he thought his international career was over. He didn't honour that contract when he discovered that the new England manager was willing to give more caps and yet more PR opportunities. That's more of an indication of the paucity of English alternatives than anything else.

  • Comment number 49.

    What's amusing about this particular blog is that those who are demanding "respect" for DLH in their outraged way are also those who are showing the least respect for the original writer - who, like DLH and Beckham, is only doing his job, and in the original article showed all due respect to De La Hoya.

    Anyway, on the subject of respect - I think most people here have fallen into the trap of giving none to Beckham. Rarely has such a top-class sportsman been so villified for so little reason - his choice of wife, his business brain, and his looks, i.e. three things that have nothing to do with his sporting achievements, which incidentally are massive.

  • Comment number 50.

    So much unfounded criticism on this blog from boxing snobs on here. Don't you guys get it, this isn't the Ring Magazine forums, this is a BBC blog and by using the Beckham comparison Mr Dirs was perhaps attempting to draw in the more passing boxing fan, along wih football ones, and stimulate thought and generate interest on what is still a withering sport in this country.

    As for my take DLH, a great man, but only a very good boxer.

  • Comment number 51.

    Ben, i think it's the negative comments that have riled people a bit, don't you think?

    "But an Olympic and 10-time world champion deserves more than mean-spirited nit-picking"

    Well you set the tone for the article with the first 6 paragraphs or so, and in my view focused too much on his shortcomings. Yes he's lost fights, but why dwell on his record when he's done so much more for boxing?

    The comment "made to look pathetic by Manny Pacquiao" sums it all up really. The guy was coming back down to welter to put on yet another massive fight, yes he was weight drained and shouldn't have been in the ring, but why label him pathetic? Would you level Ali with the same sweeping statement, that he looked pathetic in his last fight in losing to a journeyman in Berbick?

  • Comment number 52.

    Oscar was good, very great, but IMO he simply wasn't a legend. Why? well for much the same reasons as Ben; he lost all of the truly big fights he was in. granted often by narrow margins (Hopkins aside) but he lost them nonetheless. he's right to call it quits though, he looked a shadow of his former self against pacman. if truth be told he should have retired 5 years ago

  • Comment number 53.

    "if truth be told he should have retired 5 years ago"

    Agreed. Which means his timing is, in fact, a bit rubbish.

  • Comment number 54.

    Ben, I think some of your comments in this blog are grossly unfair on De La Hoya.

    Whitaker made him look 'wretched'?! At the time he was rated as the best pound for pound boxer in the world and played with Julio Cesar Chavez among many others. For De La Hoya to step up and relieve him of his title was an outstanding feat. Yes, his fight with the dangerous and much-avoided Ike Quartey was close, but he pummelled him in the last round and won handily on my card. Felix Trinidad was given a gift against De La Hoya, although I admit he shouldn't have given away the final three rounds.

    His challenge to Bernard Hopkins was a gamble. OK it backfired with a stoppage loss but no-one was stepping up to fight Hopkins at that time. I thought he did enough against Mayweather, too.

    His CV is a who's-who of boxing for the last 20 years, and he had some amazing nights! He's not top 10 all time great material, but who said that was what he was aiming for? All things considered, when some writers were labelling him 'Chicken De La Hoya', he stepped up to the plate and fought the best. He didn't duck anyone, even when he was out of his depth.

    OK, he should have retired after fighting Floyd, but it doesn't detract from the fact he had a great career and is creating a last legacy by promoting.

  • Comment number 55.

    Coxy1000 - Once again, you're willfully misinterpreting what I've said. The word 'pathetic' has two different meanings: it can mean contempibly miserable, or (and this is what I intended) it can mean "causing or evoking pity, sympathetic sadness, sorrow". Did not the sight of De la Hoya sitting beaten on his stool cause you to feel just that? And yes, there was no more pathetic sight than Ali losing to Berbick in his last fight.

    FairPlayMotty - I think our argument is down to semantics to be honest. The reason I felt your statement that "At world-class level Beckham is mediocre at best" doesn't make sense is because, as far as I understood it, a 'world-class' player is someone who can lay claim to being one of the best players in the world, so how can such a player be 'mediocre'?
    "When judged either against world class players of his own generation or all time great world class players, Beckham is mediocre at best." So you're saying Beckham is a world class player?! But only a mediocre one?

  • Comment number 56.

    Lets face it every boxer is going to have some sort criticism about the way they went about their careers, i.e. Calzaghe because he shouldnt of won against hopkins and wound down his career against "over the hill" fighters and DLH because he carried on too long, and in my eyes, should've quit after the mayweather fight. Find me one boxer that didnt have any faults in their career and ill give you the moon on a stick! DLH was a PR machine, just as Beckham is, both were/are exceptionally talented at what they did, but both dont deserve to be considered a "great" in their respective fields.

    Brilliant blog Ben.

  • Comment number 57.

    Ben, I actually don't know how you many to carry on doing this blog. Half the people leaving comments are mental. They don't actually appear to have understood the main thrust of the article and toss a few insults your way into the bargain.

    Nice piece though and a fair comparison between Beckham/DLH in my eyes. Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 58.

    i think people should be more respectful of a guy who is obviously a font of knowledge on boxing, contributes good discussion and takes the time to respond to most sane bloggers!

    ok i see your point, i still think the fact the mexicans love chavez and barerra more is due to the fact that there are not "of mexican descent" but 100% dyed in the wool mexicanas. i do agree though that DLH is not your typical blood n guts, machismo style latin fighter.

    keep up the good work and dont let the haters get you down. vast majority of people appreciate the discussion for the "pub banter" it is intended as

  • Comment number 59.

    Most boxers are unfairly critiscised at one point or another. Look at Kostya Tsyzu before he fought Hatton; if Ricky had got sparked in the first round it wouldn't have been a massive shock but instead Ricky wins and all of a sudden Tsyzu was "over the hill". Jeff Lacy was a big favourite against Calzaghe yet Joe hammered him from pillar to post and all of a sudden Lacy was "overrated". De La Hoya was a slight favourite over Pacquiao yet got battered hence became "over the hill". Where are all the experts pre-fight claiming the fighters are washed up or so and so will win it easy?

    A fight's a fight, anything can happen and that's the beauty of the sport. People in general need to stop bagging the fighters for a loss, it happens. Hate to bring the boxing vs MMA debate up but the longest reigning welterweight champion in the UFC once said; "If you haven't lost a fight, you're not fighting the right people." I'm tired of reading aout a fighter losing for the first time like Hatton vs Mayweather and people say it's the end of the road for them. What a load of rubbish! Going back to Oscar; a great fighter who was robbed a couple of times (Trinidad, Mosley II) and got lucky sometimes (Sturm) but ultimately he fought the best of the best and win, lose or draw, he's got more credibility for mixing it with the elite than making a million title defences against has-beens and never-were's.

  • Comment number 60.

    this debate has got me biten!... i'm enjoying it...

    All i want to add at this point is to say well done to Ben for running a blog EXACTLY how it should be run... even if you agree or not with his opinion the "dynamics" of the blog are class. He has picked a topical subject, comments don't sit "awaiting moderation for 3 hrs" and most importantly he gets back to peoples comments - if all the BBC bloggers were able to learn from this then the blogs across bbc sport would be so much more enjoyable.

    I'm not in love with you Ben, and still think you should have been kinder to De La Hoya - but please take this comment and show it to Mihir, McNulty, Chick and all the other bloggers that could learn a thing or too!

    ps can't help myself making a point - maybe DLH isn't a top 10 all timer.. but is Ali?, Tyson? Lewis?... and weren't they great in their own right / era ??... or just another bunch of show ponies doing nothing but making money??... Ali was the all time greatest at hype and PR!!... and for what it's worth DLH has more "pound for pound great names" on his CV than any of those 3...

    you heard it here first - Ben Dirs thinks that Muhammad Ali was useless!

  • Comment number 61.

    Always gets heated when Dirs writes a boxing blog.wonder why.everyone is entitled to his opinion.Dlh was a great boxer.he didnt have to win every fight to attain that moniker.I still watch the Quartey fight today.And him giving Vargas the beating he deserved delighted me no end.He fought everyone and made a ton of cash.I'm gonna miss that sweet sweet left hook!
    By the way Dirsy have you tried photo shop or better yet a brownpaper bag?Your mug shot at the top is horrendous!Didnt think the last one could get any worse but you've out done yourself pal!Im loving that malnourished polar bear look!

  • Comment number 62.

    Ben Dirs im annoyed that you chosen to put Beckham into your title, were getting nothing but football comparisons rather than tributes to a true great.

  • Comment number 63.

    I can't understand all the fuss about this, some people are reacting like you had just openly criticised their mothers taste in men!!! It's only supposed to be a debate!!!

    For what it's worth, i think your comparison of DLH and Beckham is spot on. They were 2 sportsman who were at the very top of their chosen field but were always thought of by a lot of people to be there half by skill and half by business managment. Both of them were massive draws for their respective sports but never quite did the business when it REALLY counted. This shouldn't take anything away from either man though. DLH was a tremendous fighter with the heart of a lion and did brilliantly to win 10 world titles at 6 different weights but the cold hard facts say that when he had what should have been the biggest fights of his career, he lost. You can't get away from that fact so without a doubt, there is a similarity between him and Becks who won league titles, FA cups, Champions leagues but never really seemed to perform in International competitions. To suggest that you have insulted either man is RIDICULOUS and anybody who is trying to say they cant be compared cos their sport is so different doesn't quite understand the point in a comparison. There is no set rule somewhere that says to compare 2 men they have to do the same thing, play the same sport etc.

    I thought the blog was pretty good, i didn't agree with everything you said but it still didn't give to me the urge to jump down your throat for the slightest "insult" to Becks or De La Hoya.

    Oh, one last thing, beckham was world class without a doubt. Maybe not the best in the world but right up there near them, the bloke was / is a supremely talented footballer. Anybody who disagrees just needs to watch a re-run of England V Greece, look at the performance from Becks in that game, the game when it REALLY mattered, if that isn't world class i would like to see what is.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think part of the problem boils down to the comparisons made between historic fighters and modern day fighters. Its too easy to look back at the truly exceptional boxers down the years, and judged all fighters since by the same standards. Forget the Ali's and the Sugar Ray Robinsons for a second - they weren't just great. Like Pele or Maradona in football, they were legendary. We aren't talking about being legendary, we're talking about being great.

    Oscar De la Hoya has been a great fighter. The man has been won world titles at six different weights. To win a world title once could be considered lucky, particularly in boxing were cherry picking fights is easy. But to fight consistently at that level, you have to be 'world class'. Amongst the best of the current crop. What more does a man have to do to be considered 'great', particularly in such a harsh and uncompromising sport.

    Foootball is a poor comparison. Its a team sport. Even Nicky Butt has collected silverware, on the back of 'great' players.

    ODLH may not feature in the top ten of all time. Those places are reserved for Legends of the sport - the Ali's, the Sugar Rays, The Audley Harrisons....just kidding! But to say the man was not great is poor form and completely disrespectful. The money he's made from the sport is irrelevant, and people shouldn't let it cloud their judgement.

    Eric Cantona won't be in the top ten footballers of all time, but the man was great. Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Ian Rush, Kevin Keegan. Even the likes of Tony Adams. All great.

    I suppose it all boils down to how you define greatness, but its seems to me ODLH doesn't get the respect he deserves because of his flash sytle and massive fortune outside of the ring. To suggest anyone was who has acheived what he has to be mediocre, and not great, in my opinion, is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 65.

    To be fair to Ben he is far from the only one say DLH may not be all he was cracked up to be, as a journo in The Guardian wrote, "he fought anyone who was anyone and lost to most of them, which is nobody's definition of the greatest"

    At the end of the day it's entirely subjective, Ben (and more than a few others) have their own opinions on ODLH, it's not a question with a right and wrong answer, by all means debate the issue but some of the stuff on here, I mean "you make me sick" does he? does it really make you physically sick to read mild criticism of Oscar De La Hoya? in that case grab a paper bag, because I think ODLH while very good was always more of a faultless marketing exercise than a great after his early years as a pro.

    Honestly some of you ought to get out more.

  • Comment number 66.

    Well well Mr Dirs. I think it's fair to say your blog has stimulated and provoked some debate here. Which amounts to pretty good journalism in my book. And well done for coming back to join in the debate as well, there's too much blog-and-run goes on these days.

    For the record, ODLH probably isn't the greatest boxer around, but he was a damned good boxer and certainly a great fighter. Floyd Mayweather is certainly technically a better boxer, but he had/has something missing. He doesn't really entertain. Quoth Proximo "I wasn't the best because I killed quickly, I was the best because the crowd loved me." That's why De La Hoya is a legend. Sport is about being the best, professional sport is also, to some degree, about being an entertainer, since that's where the money which makes it professional comes from. De La Hoya is a modern great of the professional sport because he took on the best, and even when he didn't beat them he drew them into great fights, and the world loved him for it. Was he "The Best"? Probably not, but who cares?

  • Comment number 67.

    64 - It does depend on definition and context of 'Great'
    I once heard Lee Dixon (one of the more learned beeb pundits) describe Chris Kirkland as a Great Keeper despite having played less than 100 competetive games at the time. Also Mark Lawrenson describe Steven Gerrard as having a fantastic/great game v Ecuador in the World Cup. Nope I don't remember it either.
    E.g. Cantona was a great player at domestic club level in France and England - however he was anything but that at European or International level.
    ODLH is a Great Fighter of last dozen years, as is Barerra, Manny P, Hopkins, Calzaghe, Trindad, FMJ, Lewis, RJJ and several others.
    He is not greatest of all time though certainly one of the most versatile based on range of weights he fought at.

    The blog is good and the comparisson with Beckham works in terms of mixture of athlete and personality profile.
    Though as stated by other before Beckham never had to endanger his life by playing football in the way DLH v Hopkins for example.

    Was Beckham great? Well he was for 18 months in the run up to 2002 WC for England and probably for a couple of years before that as well for Man Utd. Not since on a consistent basis

  • Comment number 68.

    Wow - What a debate!! Is Beckham world class? Is DLH an all time great? Questions, Questions Questions. Firstly is there a right or wrong answer to these questions? No - there isnt, there are only opinions.

    My opinion is brought from facts - Comparing Beckham to DLH? Beckham is/was an outstanding player, a player that could change a game but yet you say never made it on the highest level, if you look at his honours, as a footballer you wouldnt complain. Only one missing is the World Cup, which lets be honest England has never performed well not just one man.

    Now Oscar. Oscar to me, is an exceptional fighter, for me he has one of the best left hooks in the business, you look at his honours it doesnt lie, he has won what there is to be won. The fight and excitement of the Fernando Vargas fight was amazing - a fight that makes you sit up and really get involved with. Oscar can never be classed as an "almost" great, lets face it he is a great, sure he never won every fight, but you know what - I personally dont like fighters with an 0, it shows they have not really been tested. Yeah sure, look at Mayweather, he has thought some good fighters, but for me what Oscar has that Mayweather has not got is that DLH would fight anyone, and I mean anyone, you wouldnt catch him ducking and diving fighters, say like Mayweather. Mayweather wouldnt fight Cotto, he wouldnt fight Pacman and wouldnt fight Margarito (forgetting about the man is a cheat). What somes up a great to me is being able to come back after your defeats - which DLH clearly did, the question your asking is, is he one of the greatest??

    That question, greatest top ten fighters of all time, is DLH in it?
    I cant say he would be init - but flip that question to say is he one of the most exciting/marketable boxers of all time then yes he is in the top 10. For me you always new what you would get with Oscar, and that is entertainment, win lose or draw you are getting entertained by this man.

    Do we put him in the same class as Beckham? Hell no - Oscar is way higher, Beckham is just as famous as playing football as he is being a model/socialite. Is Oscar just as famous for Boxing as he is marketability, nope he is famous for one thing - and that my readers is boxing.

    Is he one of the greatest of all time - No - but if we had say, 3 Oscars every ten years - I wouldnt be complaining.

    I would just like to sign of by saying a thanks to Oscar, for being an incredible professional to the sport and always trying, always pushing himself to the next level, sometimes not achieving that, but, always trying. Caps of to Oscar, not the greatest but great and most definitely a LEGEND. Enjoy promoting, at least we get to see good fights.

  • Comment number 69.

    Firstly you point out a lot of people compare De la Hoya with Beckham - Wrong, journalists like yourself are the one's who paint pictures of peoples lives who you don't know a lot about.

    Secondly, I have to seriously question your knowledge of the sport of boxing, Bernard Hopkins was getting anayalated on all three scorecards when his live punch stopped De La Hoya.

    As for your statement about Like Beckham, not being the best, why did Beckham remain England captain for so long while De La Hoya is the biggest non heavy weight attraction of all time, people don't watch him because they like his shorts.

    As for saying he got smashed by Pacquaio, he was foolish to take such a fight but at 36, going down to a weight at which you haven't performed for 10 years plus is pretty draining on your body.

  • Comment number 70.

    Richard125 - "Firstly you point out a lot of people compare De la Hoya with Beckham". Erm, no I don't. I said "I have sometimes heard Oscar de la Hoya referred to as the 'David Beckham of Boxing'." They mean two completely different things.

    Second, you say Hopkins was being "annhialated" on the scorecards. No he wasn't. When the fight was stopped, the scorecards read: judge: Dave Moretti 79-73 | judge: Paul Smith 78-74 | judge: Keith MacDonald 75-77 (source Boxrec) in Hopkins' favour.

    Why would you come on here questioning my knowledge and then misquote me and get your facts totally wrong? Odd.

  • Comment number 71.

    ok Ben, prehaps my comments were a little innaccurate to be fair but so are yours. I have read the entire article again and still think you try to dampen his achievements more than promote them but I suppose that's your job.

  • Comment number 72.

    and Ben, if you wish to use that sight, Oscar beat Mosley on punch count by a countrymile.

  • Comment number 73.

    The site was only showing the facts and they showed that Hopkins was actually well ahead on every judges card which means your statement was totally incorrect. I would always research my own facts to ensure they were right before telling somebody else they were wrong.

    JOE HOLLER: Excellent piece mate, couldn't have said it better myself.

  • Comment number 74.

    talking of all time greats.... cough...cough.... can someone else please join me in laughing at David Haye... i like the guy as a boxer but he has called his upcoming clash with Wladimir Klitschko as "the biggest heavyweight fight of all time". oh dear... this links in with my point earlier about the endless amount of over-hype surrounding boxing...

    got to get off now as I need to go and play 5 aside football - "it's the biggest football match of all time" don't you know.

  • Comment number 75.

    you said "De la Hoya may not, like Beckham, have been the greatest." when was Beckham ever the greatest. he was a decent player at best.

  • Comment number 76.

    matthewdoran - Hands up, you've got me on a grammatical point. That should, of course, have read: "Like Beckham, De la Hoya may not have been the greatest."

  • Comment number 77.

    loving this blog, people are getting their knickers in a knot about beckham and de la hoya being compared and totally missing the point.

    Good blog Ben.

    For me, De la hoya was a class act, sure came up short a couple of times but certainly a great fighter in my opinion. Skills pay the bills as PBF says and Oscar had them in abundance

  • Comment number 78.

    Ben, usually a big fan of your blogs but can't help but feel that another blog has centred around taking cheap shots at Beckham. Yes some could argue that he never fulfilled his potential in an England shirt at a major tournament, but seeing as all the other "stars", bar possibly wayne rooney in 2004, have all flopped at major tournaments you could put that down to the england set u as after all he was a major force in a very successful man utd side.

    also agree with other earlier posters who suggested that perhaps DLH leaving at the right time would have been a few fights earlier, however still a great fighter who attracted the big crowds and deserves the recognition he gets.

  • Comment number 79.

    Yes, he came up short in some of his biggest fights, so cannot be considered a legend in pure boxing terms. I am sure sportsmen always want to be considered great at their discipline, but most also want the money too. No one did that better than Oscar. He might not be a great but he could easily hold his own against the best the sport has to offer, while racking up the 000s most "greats" can only dream of. Whether you like him or loathe him, Oscar has done so much good for the sport itself you cannot deny his place in history.

  • Comment number 80.

    There's a reason why De La Hoya can go down as one of the greatest. He never ducked anyone; he was exciting and made the fights people wanted to see. I can't believe after all that he's achieved and all that he's done for the sport that people are still criticising! People make too big an issue over how many losses a person has on their record these days and it's that mentality stopping some great matches from happening; stopping the best from fighting the best to preserve their records. At least De La Hoya can say he fought the best out. Boxing legend - a real throwback to the days when you couldn't choose who you fought.

  • Comment number 81.

    I dont think we should allow the fact that both david beckham and oscar de la hoya are good looking thus very marketable take anything away from there talents. Beckham might not have won a world cup but as a player he is world class. Likewise oscar de la hoya is an all time great. Remember he won his first world title at super feather wieght and moved up the wieghts to achieve greater things. He fought the best fighters in weight classes above his natural and although he did not win them all many were close and could have gone ether way.His style did not always make for an exiting fight because he was a master boxer (the science of hitting without getting hit)not a heads down fighter like Hatton or Tyson.He only hade 2 bad defeats one being stopped by Bernard Hopkins witch can be forgiven as BHop is an all time great middlewieght and Manny pacuqiao witch was just the one of those fights that mean the end of a career (like ali v holmes, sugar ray leonard v terry norris,tyson v lewis,williams,mcbride ect)Oscar was a superstar of his era and a good ambassador for the sport.

  • Comment number 82.

    Great debate. I agree, some similarity between them but you also have to take into account the DLH lived or died by his own performance he only had himself to look at for answers as to why he did or didn't win the biggest fights of his career. There are a number of reasons DB didn't perform to the best of his ability when it really mattered in major tournaments, injury being one and not a natural leader another. He was after all playing a team sport reliant to some extend on others. You can only perform so well when the team doesn't/hasn't gelled, England has't gelled for 43 years, great on paper consistently average when it counts. How many times do you see a great footballer look average when they move to the wrong club eg Keane?

  • Comment number 83.

    I'm not sure how apposite the Beckham comparison is, but there is a great name from boxing's recent past whose imprint on the sport does seem remarkably similar to de la Hoya's.

    That man is Thomas Hearns. A fighter with all the skills, the respect of the vast majority of the cognoscenti and a hatful of world title belts to his credit, Hearns, like de la Hoya, fought just about everyone of consequence from his era, with the notable exception of Mike McCallum. However, also like de la Hoya, Hearns was never recognised as an undisputed champion at any weight, despite racking up som many title wins and he will always be remembered for the major fights that he failed to win - those that would have sealed his legacy among the immortals of the game.

    I suspect that de la Hoya and Hearns will earn a similar rating decades from now. When people try to rate them in 2059, it is likely that they will be regarded as very good, even great, but not in the very top rank.

  • Comment number 84.

    Gentlemen, gentlemen! Let's not argue and bicker. Let's find some common groud.I'm sure all pugilistic scholars will agree that Ray Robinson was THE greatest middleweight in history. So far. I'm only 46 so I can't remember any of his fights personally but I do have a VHS recording of his life story in my loft. Now, I can't be arsed getting it out to check the facts but I seem to remember him going up a weight to light heavy and quitting on his stool during a bout with one Joey Maxim - remember him? - me neither, and going down a weight to welter and losing to one Carmen Bassilio - remember him? - me neither. In summary, Robinson was THE great middleweight and not being the greatest any other weight doesn't dilute his greatness. By the way, did you know his real name was Walker Smith? Watch and learn, boys.

  • Comment number 85.

    Point seen and taken, however, I have to strongly disagree with you on 2 counts. What you have said with regards to Joey Maxim and Carmen Bassilio.

    If you are a true fan of boxing, how can you not remember them or maybe remember them is a bad phrase as you wouldnt be old enough to remember, lets see, ahh yes, how do you not know about them??

    These two boxers were fantastic for the time, so much so that The Ring have Carmen as ranked 40th on Rings list of the 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years (2002), and if you were a true fan, you would go and get that VHS or maybe it would be worth purchasing a DVD of his fights and actually watching them - then you would know who he fought were good fighters and who were bad. This would stop you writing ludicrous comments. Like the one above.

    Oh and whilst am at it - his real name was Walker Smith Jnr.

  • Comment number 86.

    First off... Ben - Good article!

    Seriously guys I was reading this earlier today and enjoying it having then finished and seen some of the comments early posted. Let's not make a god damn mountain out of a mole hill and analyze every word. Ben raising some good points he's not Larry Merchant who's talking dribble, I can't say I agree with all of them but come for gods sakes don't over magnify and try to be smart by nit picking

    keep up the good work Ben

  • Comment number 87.

    PS I'm obviously in Australia and it's late so please disregard the typos

  • Comment number 88.

    Didn't go much on this blog at all. Firstly it's disrespecfull to DLH but to all said and done alot of the points raised have more than an eliment of truth in them.

    As for all the petullent little kids out there taking pot shots at Hatton, etc, button it. This isn't a Hatton blog.


  • Comment number 89.

    What I find interesting is the response that the referencing of Beckham has generated. I suppose this reflects what the media trade on. For some people making a comparison between Beckham and De La Hoya is almost as bad as calling De La Hoya a leper.

    I think the mass media reporting of the Beckham's lives has made them part of the collective British psyche. Beckham is everywhere in daily life so its no surprise everyone has an opinion about him. Maybe Beckham is too big for a De La Hoya discussion.

    Personally I found the beginning paragraphs of the article to be overly negative of De La Hoya. I understand the criticism is meant to be provocative but given that De La Hoya has just made his retirement announcement I think the tone of the article could have been more generous. I agree that De La Hoya's greatness should be discussed as this is the norm when a marquee fighter retires.

    When thinking about a fighter's bravery I consider the fact that the objective of boxing is to hit an opponent in the head so hard that their brain bashes off the inside of the skull, that broken ribs and damage to internal organs results in victory. Every time a boxer steps inside the four posts they can die. That's brave enough for me.

  • Comment number 90.

    Ben, you can use a dictionary all you want, but when you label someone pathetic it's usually conceived in a derogatory manner.

    Back to the title of the forum. How can you compare Oscar to Beckham? Was it merely an attempt to get your click-throughs up?!

    If you can name 3 things Beckham has done for the sport of football that Oscar can't match for what he's done for boxing i'll buy you a years worth of beer. You can keep harping on about your point this, point that. Fact is he is the sole reason boxing is where it is today. Your article touched on several negative points and spent most of the article trying to belittle him.

    From memory your Calzaghe retiring post was far more sympathetic, yet what has done in comparison?

    I'm sorry but i'm going to have to call you what the pinoy boys refer to as a 'nuthugger'!

  • Comment number 91.

    DLH wasn't blessed with exceptional speed or strength, but to achieve all that he did is testament to his competitive spirit. If you study his fights, he wanted to win on the inside and the outside, against people faster and stronger. This is what made him beatable by the very best but for me a true fighter.

  • Comment number 92.


    Carmen Basillio, ranked 40th by ring magazine. I bet he hopes that isn't engraved on his headstone! What type of medal would you get for that in the olymics? Massive respect to anyone who climbs in the ropes but I just don't think Carmen is the household name Sugar is. And neither is Joey Maxim. That's all I'm saying. And I missed the 'jnr' in Sugar's surname. Gosh, I feel like an idiot. Seriously, thanks for putting me straight on that. Do you get out much?
    I'm glad we've been able to discuss this in an adult manner, Mr Poopy Pants!
    I'm still not getting the video out of the loft. I live in Australia and it's 50C and crawling with spiders in there!

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.


    Well, judging from the many great fighters we have had from 1920 I would say it is a heck of an achievement to reach 40th. Also, my point wasnt that Basillio is more of a household name than Sugar, obviously he isnt, the point was, as a boxing fan, you should know who Basillio is.

    Ha ha - I felt like being petty as you riled me. oh dear, I wouldnt go in there either.

    Anyway, blog has gone far from the point of Beckham and DLH. Ben you have gone quite all of a sudden??

  • Comment number 95.

    I wonder how many of De La Hoya's 'critics' have ever actually stepped inside a boxing ring for an actual fight.

  • Comment number 96.

    Mr HBO's Comment was bang on.
    De La Hoya will be regarded as a all time great and boxing legend, from in his super Featherweight / lightweight days he was a lighting fast puncher.
    He beat great fighters at lightweight in Ruelas who was IBF champ and many thought he would beat oscar, i feel that was one of his best performances for all round boxing, to the great knockout and how to finish an opponent when hurt.
    Hernandez was a great super feather world champ who was undefeated and more experienced and he beat him even though he was only 19.0 and at that point had already won three world titles.
    People forget Chavez was still champ in the first tfight and had only lost once and regarded as the man and De La Hoya beat him in what i think was a classic counter puncher/ boxer beating a great fighter.
    I feel he never got the credit for those performances and Whitaker was p4P champ at the time and De La Hoya beat him and had only been beat once.

    At that point he was P4P best in boxing and people are questioning if he can be regarded as great!!!
    Come on people look at your history.
    He fought all the best welterweights at there peak
    Quarty, Trindad, Mosley, and No matter what people say he beat Trinidad and Mosley (second fight) at there peak and those decisions were not correct.
    He beat Gatti a world class warrior, two time world champion Vargas and Mayorga. theses victory's were all against dangerous world class fighters, who he beat with great boxing brain, excellent left jab and a wicked left hook.
    I feel he only lost three times to Mosley a great three weight world champ (First fight), Hopkins a great undisputed middle champ and Pac man the current P4P champ. All losses to great fighters!!

    De la Hoya beat Mayweather as well i was there that night at the MGM Grand and i feel by 8 rounds to 4 without a shadow of a doubt, which was another decision that was not correct and De La Hoya was not even at his peak anymore.

    De La Hoya's a gold medal champ, 10 time world champ in 6 weight classes and former P4P champ and he is not regarded as great that is crazy to even think that.
    He is last of the dying breed and will be mentioned in the same light as Leonard, Hagler, Hearns and Duran.
    A inspiration to myself and many other boxers, thanks for the memories.

    And i do wonder how many of De La Hoya critics have been in a boxing ring and had a contest.

    Calzague is a great British world champ but not in the same league as De La Hoya who fought everyone in his best weight class, at there peak and he beat most of them.

    Beckham is a great footballer, still the best passer of the ball in Europe and playing for Man Utd, Real Madrid and AC Milan speaks for itself.

  • Comment number 97.

    De la Hoya, of course, was world class, whatever that might mean in some minds. It means he mixed with the best and won plenty. World class! Beckham was World class also but his talents were confined to beautiful long balls from deep and from dead-ball situations. He was also a worker, but had no other great attributes and that includes his strange wife. Johhny Wilkinson was World class also - a great kicker from hand or dead-ball, a great, great tackler and a worker. That's where he has it over Beckham. De La Hoya to be compared to Beckham, I'm afraid, is sloppy opinion and hardly the basis for an article but, as you observe, it gets responses. BTW, Benders, is it possible that you can give a straight commentary on the cricket without the hastily improvised slang? Cheers, you know you can if you want to.

  • Comment number 98.

    The Chavez who fought DLH had, in reality, lost twice, both times to Frankie Randall, although he was spared one defeat officially. Can't even remember the official results to be honest but Chavez was a bit of Louis Hamilton and couldn't accept defeat particularly gracefully. Frankie Randall beat him twice. In the first DLH fight, Chavez tried to wangle a no-contest. I was very pleased to see that Chavez (who, incidentally, was a great fighter but possibly a suspiciously inept human being) was in Vargas's corner for that particular DLH whipping! Truly poetic.

  • Comment number 99.

    And, incidentally, the ramnifications of a fighter's decision to quit, fight on or, indeed, return to the ring are no-where near those for a footballer faced with the same decisions. For starters, and main course, fighters bleed and sometimes die for a living. Footballers cry for theirs.


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