RingTV.com caught up to Oscar De La Hoya regarding his thoughts on the upcoming clash featuring WBC welterweight beltholder Victor Ortiz and Floyd Maywearther Jr. that is slated for HBO Pay Per View at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sept. 17.
De La Hoya declined to go into detail concerning his recent rehabilitation from cocaine and alcohol, which is addressed in a separate story by RingTV.com.
Having faced and lost a narrow decision to the 34-year-old Mayweather (41-0, 25 knockouts), the 38-year-old De La Hoya has been offering tips to the 24-year-old Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs).
De La Hoya was knocked out in the ninth round by Hopkins in September of 2004, lost a decision to Mayweather in May of 2007, and was stopped in eight rounds by Pacquiao in the last fight of his career in December of 2008.
RingTV.com: How are you doing, and has it been a relief for you to go public with your past troubles and to get them off of your chest?
Oscar De La Hoya: Obviously, you know, living a lie for a lot of years is a lot of hard work, and there’s a lot of weight off of my shoulders. I feel wonderful, I feel blessed, and I feel great that a lot of the people that really love me are sticking behind me.
They’re beside me, and it’s a wonderful thing. I feel reborn. I’ve been given a second chance, literally, at at life that I had let it go to waste. Now I get to live life happily, and I get to live life to the fullest, and I get to live life the way that it’s supposed to be lived. So I feel wonderful. I feel great. Right now, my life is amazing.
RingTV.com: Having faced Mayweather, Pacquiao and Hopkins, how would you rank those guys?
De La Hoya: I would have to rank Hopkins first. Hopkins, because he was willing to fight me. He was difficult to hit. But not only was he patient strategically, he knew that his game plan was going to beat me.
I think that he had it all planned out right from the start. Hopkins is a very strong puncher and he can take a punch. Hopkins is fast. He’s got heart.
RingTV.com: Still, didn’t he express doubts into the television cameras between some of the rounds that he was ahead in the fight before scoring the knockout?
De La Hoya: I’m not doubting my abilities, I mean, I was actually doing well against Hopkins. Then again, I was younger than when I fought Mayweather and when I fought Pacquiao. My abilities are outstanding, but that’s when I was younger and when I was able to perform against a Hopkins.
I did well against Hopkins until he caught me with that body shot. If I had fought Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao when I was younger, it would have been a whole different story. Who knows what the outcome would have been, but it would have been an entirely different outcome.
RingTV.com: Would you agree that your prime was from around 1998-through-2000 when you fought Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Ike Quartey, Felix Trinidad and Derrell Coley and Mosley, and if so, how would you have done against Mayweather and Pacquiao then?
De La Hoya: My answer is that no, they would not have beaten me. Probably the same question, if you had asked Chavez if he would have beaten Oscar De La Hoya in his prime, he would probably have said, ‘Yes.’ I would have to say, yeah, Chavez probably would have beaten me in his prime, but, you know, who knows?
When you’re in your prime, though, you have to take advantage. 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.
RingTV.com: Was there a difference between the De La Hoya that fought Mayweather as a junior middleweight and the De La Hoya that fought Pacquiao as a welterweight?
De La Hoya: Obviously, when I fought Pacquiao, I was drained. I was a dead man walking right before the fight. I had not dropped to 147 for such a long time. You know what, though? it’s my fault because I wanted to fight at 147. I had to drop a lot of weight within a month before the fight.
I dropped all the way down to 142 pounds, but it’s all my fault, of course. I have to take responsibility for it, and at the same time, you have to give Pacquiao his credit. Hey, he was a young lion that beat me that night, and he’s as a talented fighter.
So I have to take all of that into consideration. You know, I can play with it in my head and visualize, ‘Okay, well, if I was younger, and if I was on my weight, or I wasn’t feeling weak,’ then, yeah, I think that it would have been a whole different story.
RingTV.com: Why do you believe that Ortiz can succeed with a game plan worked out against Mayweather with assistance from you where Marquez and Mosley failed?
De La Hoya: I mean, obviously, when I was promoting Marquez and Mosley, I was rooting for my guys. I’m going to root for the under dog. Yes, we worked with a very talented Floyd Mayweather Jr. But, I had Shane Mosley and Juan Marquez under contract, so they were within our stable.
So I’m going to root for them and be on their side. Marquez, yes, you can make the case that he was a small welterweight, which he is. In a lot of people’s minds, and, I guess, the reality was that he had maybe no chance.
In my eyes and my heart, I wanted him to have a chance and I wanted him to have that opportunity. The same goes with a Shane Mosley. In everybody’s eyes, realistically, in the eyes of the experts, he was done.
He was not the Shane Mosley that I fought when we fought for the first time years earlier. But in my heart and in my mind, I wanted him to win, and I wanted him to be competitive. Maybe it’s a personal thing.
RingTV.com: Why is Ortiz different?
De La Hoya: Well, in this fight here with Victor Ortiz, I don’t have to hype him up or convince myself that Victor Ortiz is going to win. A lot of people feel and feel as if they know that Victor doesn’t have a chance.
But I feel and know that he does have a chance, because he’s a true welterweight. He’s a fighter that can hit hard and who is fast and who is young and who is not going to get tired.
For the first time, Mayweather is going to face a true welterweight who is bigger than him and who is stronger than him and who is younger than him. He’s not going to face a Mosley or a Marquez.
He’s going to face a true, in his-prime, young lion, and that’s going to be a test for Mayweather when they enter the ring.
RingTV.com: How critical will it be for Ortiz to have a decent jab against Mayweather?
De La Hoya: Well, if I had kept on throwing that jab at Mayweather, I would have won the fight. Hands down. But I was kind of a robot getting rusty as every round went by, and the screws began to pop out of my sockets.
I was an old 34-year-old against a young Mayweather. But I saw Victor train yesterday at the media workout, and I was literally shocked at how fast and strong his jab is. To see his jab, that was very shocking.
So I’ve given him my advice, and I’ve talked to him here and there, and he knows what he has to do, so it’s all coming together. On the night of Sept. 17, Ortiz will be in his prime, he will be at his best, and he will peak on that night. It’s going to be a very interesting fight.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]