Las Vegas, Nevada, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, May 3, 2003 – Óscar de la Hoya defeats Mexican Luis Ramón ‘Yori Boy’ Campas by technical knockout.
That night marked the beginning of a boxing tradition in the United States, within the framework of the Battle of Puebla , a commemorative day in Mexican history, but already celebrated over-the-top in the US as a marketing promotion, but now holds a place on the annual boxing calendar as a key date for the top Mexican fighters.
De la Hoya fought three more times on this “party” day against Ricardo Mayorga in 2006, Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2007 and against Steve Forbes in 2008. Since then, and thanks to the trend led by the boxer, Cinco de Mayo became for boxing one of the “Mexican” mandatory dates in Las Vegas .
- Ruiz, Mares, Santa Cruz and García proud boxers of two countries
- Yadier Molina, dean of the Puerto Rican catchers
- Tom Flores, Latino trailblazer in the NFL
So beyond justifying why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in the United States , this date acquired an emotional meaning for Mexicans in the U.S. seeing in Oscar de la Hoya’s fights, the opportunity to feel represented by an American with Mexican blood and to validate their love for their country even when they away.
Oscar de la Hoya and his dual nationality
Born to Mexican parents, Oscar de la Hoya has always shown a deep love and respect for his two nations, which is why he has become an example of pride in Hispanic heritage in the United States .
De la Hoya was born in Los Angeles, California, on February 4, 1973, and grew up in Montebello. Continuing the boxing legacy of his father and his grandfather, he began amateur boxing with more than 200 victories, winning the Golden Gloves tournament as a bantamweight in 1989 and the 1990 United States championship as a featherweight.
He won a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics Games in Barcelona in the lightweight division. From then on he he was nicknamed the “Golden Boy” . That medal was dedicated to his mother, who had passed away months before the competition. After securing the medal, De La Hoya unfolded both the Mexican and American flag as a tribute to his pride in being part of both countries.
“I had to do that to represent my Mexican family and my country, which is Mexico, because from my heart I have always felt Mexican and at the same time an American because I was born in Los Angeles,” De La Hoya recalled in a press conference after receiving the letter of naturalization as a Mexican in 2002.
With eight world titles: WBO Super Featherweight (1994 with one defense); lightweight WBO (1994 with 6 defenses); slight FIB <(1995); WBC super lightweight (1996-1997 with one defense); welterweight (1997-1999 with 7 defenders); WBC super welterweight (2006-2007 with 4 defenses); WBA super welterweight (2002 with a defense) and WBO middleweight (2004), De la Hoya consolidated a career full of success and international recognition.
However, not everything was glazed in honey regarding Oscar de la Hoya's relationship with Mexico and Mexicans. As a teenager, he didn’t speak Spanish and chose to represent the United States at the Barcelona Olympic Games. In 1996 he faced the legendary Julio César Chávez and fans did not forgive him that, in less than 10 minutes, he snatched the light welterweight title from him with a TKO in the third round. Two years later he repeated history, leaving the greatest Mexican boxing idol badly injured in the eighth round.
As time passed, Óscar de la Hoya realized the importance of the Mexican public in his career, learned Spanish fluently and applied for Mexican citizenship.
“This is a very special moment in my life. It makes me feel more proud of my roots and, as I have always said that Mexico has the best boxers in the world, now they can include me in that group,” said at the time the “Golden Boy” who, besides beating Chávez twice, also beat other Mexicans stalwarts such as Jorge “Maromero” Páez in 1994 and Miguel Ángel González in 1997.
Vindicating himself with the Mexican public in the United States, De la Hoya was the regular star of the Cinco de Mayo fights in Las Vegas , however, in 2007 he lost against Mayweather Jr. and, from then on, it seemed that Mexico had been stripped of the “national holiday.” It was until Saúl ‘Canelo’ Álvarez redeemed the Mexicans with his knockouts over James Kirkland in Houston in 2015 and Amir Khan in 2016 that this date came back to glory.
De la Hoya announced his retirement from boxing on April 14, 2009 and, although there were rumors on several occasions about a possible return to the ring, it has not materialized. He was scheduled to face Vitor Belfort on September 11, at the Staples Center, in Los Angeles. However, after contracting COVID-19, he had to withdraw from the bout.
Golden Boy Promotions, is partners in the business with Bernard Hopkins. For his long successful career in boxing and for staying true to his Mexican roots, Oscar de la Hoya is celebrated as a great representative of Hispanic Heritage.