Oscar De La Hoya is confident that he could have beaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao in his prime – after having lost to both of them in what apparently wasn’t his prime.
The former world champion -- who is now best known for his work with Golden Boy Promotions -- famously lost to Mayweather in 2007 via split decision and to Pacquiao in 2008 via technical knockout. That last fight against Pacquiao -- for which some gave him a decent shot coming in -- was the final nail in the proverbial coffin and, shortly thereafter, De La Hoya called it quits.
During a recent interview with RingTV.com, the famed boxer admitted something that few fighters ever seem to admit anymore (yes, we’re talking to you, “Sugar” Shane Mosley) – that he was overmatched against both Mayweather and Pacquiao and pretty much did it for the undeniably massive paydays.
"Unfortunately, I did fight Floyd Jr. and Pacquiao out of my prime. I can tell you that I would say that, no, they wouldn’t have beaten me in my prime," De La Hoya said.
"When I fought Pacquiao, I was drained," he admitted. "You know what, though? It's my fault because I wanted to fight at 147 (pounds). I had to drop a lot of weight within a month before the fight.
"You have to give Pacquiao his credit. He was a young lion that beat me that night, and he's a talented fighter," De La Hoya added.
The truth is, despite De La Hoya’s version of past events, it was Pacquiao who was at a severe disadvantage coming into the match – with numerous pundits noting this much. The reason that De La Hoya was favored going in was largely because many felt that he would be stronger. As it turned out, though, Pacquiao dominated from start until the eventual eighth round finish, and he was so dominating, in fact, that after the fight De La Hoya crossed the ring and told trainer Freddie Roach, “You’re right Freddie, I don’t have it anymore.”
Against Mayweather, De La Hoya seems to think he stood a better chance. In fact, he appears to firmly believe that had he just attacked more, he would've emerged victorious.
"If I had kept throwing that jab at Mayweather, I would have won the fight. Hands down," he said. "But I was kind of a robot, getting rusty as every round went by, and the screws began to pop out of my sockets."
The way De La Hoya remembers his fight with Mayweather is endearing in a way, but also completely out of whack in another. The former did throw a lot of jabs and did press for the majority of the fight, he just found himself powerless against Mayweather’s expert defensive style. Mayweather connected more efficiently (207 landed out of 481 punches thrown) on less attempts than his counterpart did (122 landed out of 587 thrown).
While it’s nice to reminisce about fun times with retired athletes, too often they seem to rewrite history to better help them cope. De La Hoya was an international icon like Pacquiao, but he compensated for some big holes in his actual boxing skill with his star power. In his prime, out of his prime or in between his prime – whatever time period he wants to go with -- De La Hoya would have fallen to Mayweather and Pacquiao.
It wasn’t an issue of “prime.” It was an issue of talent and, for better or worse, Mayweather and Pacquiao had more of it.