20 Years Ago: Oscar De La Hoya vs Shane Mosley 2



20 Years Ago: Oscar De La Hoya vs Shane Mosley 2

There are few figures in the sport of boxing today as polarizing as Oscar De La Hoya.

Today, the former 10-time world champion is the head of Golden Boy Promotions, and the opinion of him by the public varies on who you ask.

Throughout his 16-year professional career, Oscar De La Hoya was one of his era's most popular and celebrated fighters.

However, upon reflection, he was also a fighter whom fans took for granted.

For a large segment of fans, he was the fighter that they would routinely root against.

Some fans saw through the facade of the “Golden Boy” and thought of him as a privileged pugilist who was putting on an act.

Oscar De La Hoya

Oscar De La Hoya is a fighter who didn’t duck challenges, like a Shane Mosley rematch

And while, in many respects, that turned out to be true, the narrative that he came out on the losing end of all of his big fights has become overblown.

A look at his resume shows that he not only had the strongest resume of his era, but he walked away with his hands raised quite a few times when the pressure was on.

How you define a ‘big' or ‘important' fight can be subjective.

It can be a unification title match, a headlining pay-per-view main event, or a grudge match between two rivals.

Often forgotten, Oscar De La Hoya won two critical fights at lightweight.

First, he stopped Rafael Ruelas in two rounds in a lightweight unification match. De La Hoya also gave the late Genaro Hernandez the first loss of his career.

And while no longer at his peak, a young De La Hoya also twice dominated the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez.

For Oscar De La Hoya, there are six fights, in particular, that are brought up when discussing his career.

The Big Fights For Oscar De La Hoya

His fights with Pernell Whitaker, Ike Quartey, and Felix Trinidad at welterweight were all closely contested and competitive, with De La Hoya plausibly having an argument to have won all three.

De La Hoya's fight with Felix Sturm, setting up a match with Bernard Hopkins for the undisputed middleweight crown, seemed preordained as the German middleweight looked like the clear winner against a pudgy-looking Golden Boy.

The super-fight with Floyd Maywether Jr. has a small minority that feels Oscar De La Hoya did enough to win in a fight where he was competitive. But that account has turned more into a myth over time.

Conceivably, the most controversial fight of De La Hoya's career was his rematch against California rival “Sugar” Shane Mosley, which took place on September 13, 2003.

The controversy doesn't just fall on the judge's scorecards and what took place inside the squared circle but on what happened outside the ring in Mosley's preparation.

The first encounter between the two that took place in the Summer of 2000 was a win for all parties involved.

A week after De La Hoya's disputed first loss at the hands of Felix Trinidad, Mosley would make his welterweight debut against Wilfredo Rivera.

Deciding to move up from the lightweight division in search of higher-profile bouts, Mosley moved up, hoping to eventually face De La Hoya.

Through a two-year reign of his IBF lightweight title, Mosley was a terror in the division.

He would score stoppages in all eight of his title defenses, using a unique blend of speed and power to overwhelm his opponents.

After Trinidad moved up to junior middleweight, the WBC welterweight title was rewarded back to De La Hoya following a win over Derrell Coley in February 2000.

This set up a bout between Oscar De La Hoya and Mosley at the then Staples Center in Los Angeles in the venue's first major boxing event.

The match was a back-and-forth affair, with De La Hoya and Mosley having highlight reel moments and exchanges.

The bout was capped off by a memorable 12th round that left the audience in attendance standing in applause and cheering.

De La Hoya's bout with Trinidad left a sour taste in the mouths of audiences, but De La Hoya-Mosley did the exact opposite.

Not only did it satisfy casual audiences, but hardcore fans as well who awaited a bout of that magnitude to live up to the hype.

“The way they went at each other, the way they finished the fight, in the grand scheme of things, neither one lost because of how good the fight was,” Larry Merchant told Ring Magazine.

Oscar De La Hoya v Shane Mosley 1

Mosley took the first battle between him and Oscar

While both men could have been considered winners, it was Mosley who benefitted from the fight the most.

He walked away with the WBC welterweight title in a split decision, having won the majority of the rounds in the bout's second half in the most significant fight of his career against the sport's biggest box office draw.

“Everyone in California knew that we were the two top guys, and they wanted to see us fight,” Mosley said to Ring Magazine.

“It was just the world didn't know how good a fighter I was. They knew I was a great fighter, but they didn't know how I was after moving from lightweight to welter.”

Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya On Collision Course

The win catapulted Mosley to the top of the pound-for-pound rankings, right beside Roy Jones.

It seemed like Mosley had earned the moniker of “Sugar” that all-time great fighters Ray Robinson and Ray Leonard held before him.

The win over Oscar De La Hoya would turn out to be the peak of his career, and from that high point, the only place to go was down. Mosley would spiral down hard.

Following the win over Oscar De La Hoya, Mosley would make three title defenses against non-descript opponents that proved to be mere showcases for him.

The momentum that Mosley had earned from defeating De La Hoya was dwindling as he failed to capitalize on his win.

Unfortunately, he would find himself in front of a former amateur rival who seemed to have his number.

In January 2002, Mosley stood across the ring against the late Vernon “The Viper” Forrest.

In 1992, Forrest defeated Mosley at the Olympic trials in the light welterweight division.

Forrest would largely dominate Mosley in a shocking upset, scoring two hard knockdowns in the second round, leading to a unanimous decision victory.

Afterward, Forrest expressed that it was his jab and timing that neutralized Mosley's speed advantage.

Instead of chalking it up to a bad-style matchup and moving on, Mosley decided to immediately step back in the ring with Forrest later that same year.

In an ugly and forgettable affair marred with an abundance of clinching, Forrest would once again win a unanimous decision in a much closer fight.

Mosley should be given credit for facing Forrest twice, even if it was to his own detriment.

No longer the best at welterweight, Mosley would make his way to the junior middleweight division in 2003.

But, in his first foray into the weight class, he didn't find any success.

In what can only be construed as bad luck, Mosley's bout with former IBF 154-pound titleholder Raul Marquez ended in a no-contest after three rounds due to accidental headbutts that caused cuts over both of Marquez's eyes.

What was supposed to be an opportunity for a return to form in a new weight class had turned into a flummoxing situation that left more questions than answers.

While Mosley was at a career low point, Oscar De La Hoya, on the other hand, found himself in another high point.

Following the loss to Mosley, De La Hoya took on the services of Floyd Mayweather Sr.

After one comeback bout against the late Arturo Gatti, Oscar De La Hoya moved up to the junior middleweight division where he would become at the time just the third boxer in history to win titles in five weight classes.

In an often-forgotten bout, Oscar De La Hoya displayed one of his finest showings against Spain's Javier Castillejo to win the WBC junior middleweight title in June 2001.

The next year, in a highly anticipated grudge match, Oscar De La Hoya stopped Fernando Vargas in 11 rounds in an intense brawl to unify the WBA and WBC titles at 154.

Now that Mosley and De La Hoya were in the same weight class, a rematch made sense for both parties.

Entering the rematch, it had been two years since Mosley had his hands raised in victory.

Noticeably, during his fights with Forrest, he visibly showed signs of self-doubt and a lack of confidence. He didn't look like the same fighter.

Oscar De La Hoya's strategy to go punch-for-punch with Mosley in their first bout may have been him overcompensating for his lack of aggression in the championship rounds against Trinidad.

Under Mayweather's tutelage, De La Hoya's right hand had seen some improvement, and the prevailing thought was that the then-five division champion would box instead of brawl with Mosley.

The questions surrounding Oscar De La Hoya leaned toward his ability to fight a disciplined fight. While with Mosley, it was his mentality to return to the fighter he was before his fights with Forrest.

“If Oscar De La Hoya as a relentless aggressor, couldn't beat the faster, superior boxer in Shane Mosley, can he beat him as a boxer?” Larry Merchant stated on HBO on the night of the fight.

“For Shane Mosley, is he the super fighter, the third Sugar we thought he was a couple of years ago? Or is he a sugar substitute?”

Oscar De La Hoya v Mosley 2, The Fight

Today's era in boxing is much older, as exemplified by the heavyweight division and this summer's undisputed welterweight mega-fight between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr., who were 35 and 33.

De La Hoya was 30 years old before the rematch, with Mosley holding a 36-2 record with 29 knockouts.

Just two years older, Mosley held a 38-2 record with 35 knockouts at the time of the fight.

Surprisingly, much of the hype surrounding this fight was focused on Oscar De La Hoya retiring from the sport, depending on what took place in the rematch with Mosley.

For the unified WBA, WBC, and Ring Magazine junior middleweight titles, De La Hoya showed in the first round that the sequel would be fought in a different manner than the original.

Oscar De La Hoya would box from the outside, primarily using the jab as his weapon of choice.

There was a moment in the first round where Mosley landed a left hook on the inside that surprised De La Hoya. He wasn't hurt but instead given a reminder that he needed to remain focused in order to win.

Now that a blueprint existed for handling Mosley, De La Hoya had a clear game plan to follow.

The jab remained a constant throughout the first half of the fight.

Mosley was unable to mount any sustainable attack other than launching one-punch assaults that garnered little success. The former lightweight champion was fighting in an ambush-style that relied on him rushing in with power shots.

Between the fifth and sixth rounds, Mosley's father and trainer, Jack Mosley, let his son know the reality of his situation against De La Hoya.

Oscar De la Hoya v Mosley 2

With the belief that any closely contested rounds would go to his opponent, there was a sense of urgency in Mosley's corner after five rounds.

“You can't wait that long,” Jack Mosley told his son between rounds five and six.

“You did great at the end, but you let him steal that round. We are fighting in his town, on his turf. This round six is coming up; from here on out, you have to take charge. Walk his ass back!”

According to HBO, after six rounds, De La Hoya was seemingly far ahead.

Resident HBO judge, the late Harold Lederman, had the fight scored 59-55 for De La Hoya after six rounds.

It wasn't until the eighth round that Mosley began to heed his father's advice. Picking up his level of aggression, Mosley began to throw more frequently.

The rounds were still close; however, Oscar De La Hoya's blows looked like arm punches with relatively little impact compared to Mosley's.

As the fight began to veer into resembling more of the first bout, Mosley looked like the fighter who couldn't wait for the next round to begin.

De La Hoya looked more fatigued as the rounds went by, and instead of dictating the pace of the fight as he was in the first half of the match, he was reduced to reacting to Mosley's offense rather than initiating.

The 11th and 12th rounds, in particular, featured moments from both men.

During an exchange, De La Hoya landed an uppercut that sent Mosley's mouthpiece flying out.

And Mosley would land a right hand that seemingly stunned De La Hoya, who proceeded to back up from any further attack.

When the final bell rang, the match had the appearance of a De La Hoya victory.

Numbers Suggest Oscar De La Hoya The Loser

The Compubox numbers supported a De La Hoya win, with him landing 221 out of 616 punches compared to Mosley's 127 out of 496.

However, all three judges saw the bout differently, each having the fight 115-113 in Mosley's favor.

Mosley's late-round surge paid off, with all three judges awarding the final four rounds to him.

There was an aura of shock in the MGM Grand at the decision, and no one looked more surprised than Mosley himself.

Oscar De La Hoya, who had already been through his fair share of controversial decisions, remained respectful of Mosley but was frustrated at the result.

He stated that he would launch an investigation into the decision.

“I feel something is wrong,” De La Hoya said after the fight. “I will get to the bottom of this. I am not doing this because I am a sore loser. I feel the decision should have gone to me. On Monday, I will push for a full investigation.

“I have the finances to put the best lawyers on it. Boxing does not need this. I am getting tired of this.”

In response, the director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission at the time, Marc Ratner, expressed that no wrongdoing took place and that it was simply a matter of a close fight not going De La Hoya's way.

“These are honest men, and they scored the fight the way they did,” Ratner said to BBC Sport in 2003. It's a close fight that could have gone either way. This is the way the judges saw it. If it went the other way, Mosley's camp would have been the ones protesting.”

Although the decision was disputed, the controversy behind the scoring was overblown.

There was a plethora of ringside media in attendance that scored the bout for Mosley.

The rematch also followed the same pattern as the first, with Mosley winning a majority of the second half of the fight in the eyes of the judges.

The real controversy started with what took place the week before.

Balco Becomes Household Name in Sports

On September 03, 2003, one week before De La Hoya-Mosley 2, the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) offices were raided by federal authorities.

BALCO was under federal investigation for allegedly selling and providing illegal steroids to athletes.

Some of the names included Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, Tim Montgomery, and Shane Mosley.

Mosley would be subpoenaed in the BALCO investigation and was made to testify before a federal grand jury in 2003.

The findings of Mosley's testimonies weren't known until 2008, with some information being leaked in 2007 regarding the substances the three-division champion took.

Multiple defamation lawsuits between Mosley, his former strength and conditioning coach Darry Hudson, and one of the founders of BALCO, Victor Conte, took place that provided different accounts of what occurred when the three met in July 2003.

According to the case details of the Supreme Court of The State of New York County of New York for a defamation suit between Mosley and Conte that was decided in 2010, these were some of their findings.

“According to the Complaint, on July 26, 2003, the plaintiff's conditioning coach, Darryl Hudson, and Mosley met with defendant Victor Conte at the office of Conte's company, Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO).

“During the July meeting, Conte took blood samples from Mosley and, based on the results, recommended a regimen of BALCO products which would help Mosley improve his endurance in the ring.

According to the Complaint, Mosley sought and received assurances from both Hudson and Conte that the products were “healthy, legal and permitted for athletes.”

Mosley purchased the products and administered them according to the regimen Conte had suggested. In September, Mosley defeated Oscar De La Hoya by a split decision vote.”

The substances that Mosley took included EPO (Erythropoietin), which is a hormone that artificially increases red blood cell production, and THG (Tetrahydrogestrinone) or “the clear,” a testosterone cream mixed with the masking agent epitestosterone.

Mosley has denied knowing that the substances he took were illegal and maintained that he thought they were legal at the time.

“I didn't know anything about that stuff,” Mosley told ESPN in 2007. “It was something given to me, pushed up on me. I'm a health freak type of guy. I like to have everything organic and natural.

“If you keep the organic and natural things, you will live longer. Maybe that's why I look and feel as young as I do. I am very in tune with my body. When I heard they were investigating the guy, Conte, I was like. ‘Oh my God, what's going on here?'

I feel used and abused. This guy is doing this crazy stuff. That's the only time I ever touched the thing.”

Mosley's account of pleading ignorance to the substances used is one perspective that those involved, including Darryl Hudson, don't share.

“I know that Mr. Mosley was aware that the performance-enhancing drugs provided to him by Mr. Conte were banned drugs because I discussed that fact with Mr. Mosley and after our visit to BALCO,” Hudson told the Los Angeles Times in 2008.

“Mr. Mosley admitted to me that he knew the drugs provided to him by Mr. Conte were illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

“It was entirely Mr. Mosley's decision to use the banned drugs. I never recommended to Mr. Mosley that he take banned performance-enhancing drugs, nor did I push drugs on him in any way.”

Conte doubled down on Hudson's assertions and clarified that Mosley wasn't the innocent victim he was portraying.

Conte and Hudson believed Mosley knew what he was doing and wasn't tricked or misled.

“I explained the benefits of using three illegal performance-enhancing drugs commonly referred to as EPO, The Clear, and The Cream,” Conte stated in a filed sworn declaration in 2008.

“Specifically, I explained to Mr. Mosley and Mr. Hudson that The Clear was an undetectable anabolic steroid and that The Cream contained testosterone and epitestosterone.

“I told Mr. Mosley and Mr. Hudson that in addition to assisting with red blood cell production, EPO enhances oxygen uptake and utilization which is important in a sport requiring stamina and endurance like boxing. I further explained that EPO's effects would provide Mr. Mosley with an advantage late in the fight with Oscar De La Hoya.”

The effect of the usage of EPO, “the clear” and “the cream” had on Mosley's performance in his rematch with Oscar De La Hoya is debatable.

With a large contingent believing that De La Hoya should have been awarded the win, Mosley didn't think the substances had any positive impact.

“If that stuff is supposed to help, it didn't do nothing,” stated Mosley. “It hurt me. It was a close fight, and I got the decision.”

Conte, however, believes that the way the fight played out clearly indicated the effects EPO had on Mosley.

“He performed very well in what they call the championship rounds,” Conte said in an interview with Graham Bensinger in 2017.

“He was probably behind in the fight, and he won 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. At the end of the fight, Oscar De La Hoya started gassing out. And, of course, the reason you take EPO is to increase your recovery between rounds and give you stamina at the end of the fight. And that was the reason that we were doing it. And it seemed to work like planned.”

The drug testing landscape in 2003 was vastly different than it is today, as it was rarely a topic of conversation. In some respects, it could have been considered non-existent.

Performance-enhancing drug testing today is more of a hot topic.

VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) is considered the premier organization that administers testing.

But the same roadblocks between promotional companies that cause fights to be delayed or never take place apply to drug testing.

There isn't a set universal standard for drug testing, and promoters can pick and choose what substances can be tested.

More importantly, promoters can decide when results are delivered and to whom they are delivered.

“Okay, so this is highly shady business going on,” Conte stated on a recent episode of the 3 Knockdown Rule podcast.

“In my opinion, the promoters are not doing adequate testing. And in particular, I'll tell who the worst are: Eddie Hearn and Matchroom and Al Haymon and PBC. Here's what I learned. The promoter can go to them and, just like a menu in a restaurant where VADA orders everything on the menu, all prohibited substances at all times, a promoter can say, I want to do these little panels of tests of here, but none others.

“And then, when the results come back, I don't want anybody to get those results. Just send them to the promoter exclusively. No commission, no sanctioning body. And if the promoter decides to show the results, well, maybe they do, and maybe they don't.”

Mosley was inducted into the International Boxing Hall-of-Fame (IBHOF) as part of the 2020 class alongside Bernard Hopkins and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Whether knowingly or unknowingly, the admission to a grand jury that Mosley took banned substances does put an asterisk on his career.

“I know in my heart that I'm a clean guy and a good guy,” said Mosley in 2007 before his bout with Miguel Cotto.

“And I think all the fighters, promoters, and even the boxing writers know what type of person I am, what type of fighter I am, and I don't need that type of edge. My record speaks for itself in this matter; I've always been a clean fighter, and I have nothing to hide.”

For De La Hoya's part, he has never publicly shamed Mosley for the BALCO findings.

The investigation into the scoring went nowhere.

Only an inquiry by former partner and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, Richard Schaefer, in 2008 as to having the fight overturned was denied by then NSAC executive director Keith Kizer.

However, it must be said that a third fight never occurred between the two despite the success that both Oscar De La Hoya-Mosley fights had at the box office and on PPV.

Mosley would have taken a third fight with Oscar De La Hoya at the drop of a hat.

For a trilogy not to take place was a choice made by De La Hoya, and perhaps Mosley's involvement with BALCO was a factor in that decision.

Oscar De La Hoya-Mosley 2 is a fight that deserves to be remembered as a no-contest or at least be cited with an asterisk despite what the record books leave written.

Maybe De La Hoya should have been awarded the victory, but the fight has more meaning than being a bad decision.

It's a fight that should be highlighted as one that shows how drug testing and lack thereof can impact fights on the highest level.

Shane Mosley has never tested positive on any drug test and shouldn't necessarily be villainized or have all his accomplishments questioned.

But he is an example of what could be taking place behind closed doors that has yet to come to light.