Hall of Fame honors, 11 world titles in six weight divisions, an Olympic gold medal, and being one of the biggest boxing office draws of his generation has not been enough to keep Oscar De La Hoya satisfied in retirement.
In the two-part HBO documentary "The Golden Boy," a discontented De La Hoya declared that more was desired from his 16-year professional career.
“It's like climbing a mountain, you know. You want to get to the top. That's your goal. That's your dream. There is no turning back. Once I get to the top, I am not satisfied. I won 11 world titles in six different weight classes. Who in the f*** is not satisfied with that? But I didn't live up to my potential inside of the ring. I could have given a lot more. I could have been ..."
De La Hoya was victorious against Julio Cesar Chavez twice as well as Pernell Whitaker, Arturo Gatti, Fernando Vargas, Ricardo Mayorga, Hector Camacho, Ike Quartey, Oba Carr, and Genaro Hernandez, among others.
His losses only came against an esteemed group filled with Hall of Fame fighters like Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley (twice) and Felix Trinidad.
De La Hoya notoriously lived a hard life outside of the ring fueled by drugs and alcohol.
“If Oscar would've focused 100% on his fights, he would've been better,” said De La Hoya’s father Joel Sr. “If his buddies hadn't come along with their little parties so he could destroy himself, for me, it would have turned out differently.”
De La Hoya is now 50 years old and the founder and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.
In 2021, he announced a comeback crossover fight against former UFC star Vitor Belfort but the fight was called off when De La Hoya declared he contracted coronavirus. De La Hoya officially retired again in February 2022.
De La Hoya continued to discuss the pitfalls he faced trying to live up to his potential.
“All of the pressure is too much. The pressure that I've had since I was a kid, causing all of this anger, it's like building up. And I knew it would come back to haunt me. I don't think that any fighter can say that they feel like I do when I step inside the ring. Because I wasn't fighting my opponent. In reality, I was fighting myself. I was my own worst enemy. I was just f------ ready to implode,” said De La Hoya.
“Being the Golden Boy, you can't do anything wrong. You're not allowed to.
"It was always being in a straightjacket. I couldn't be myself. That made me live a double life.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer, and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com, or via www.ManoukAkopyan.com.