Advertisement: IBO Boxing
Advertisement
Boxingscene.com
Advertisement

Ex-Champ Rivera Happy to Test De La Hoya's Comeback Mettle

They were born 62 days apart in 1973. They debuted 16 days apart in 1992.

And they won championships on the very same day – May 6 – in 2006.

So it’s no surprise Jose Antonio Rivera feels a particular connection to Oscar De La Hoya.

A connection so strong, in fact, that he’d still like to pick a fight with him.

At age 47.

“That is a fight I always wanted,” said Rivera, who was capturing a WBA title at 154 pounds from Alejandro Garcia at the same time De La Hoya was beating Ricardo Mayorga for the WBC belt.

“There were talks of Garcia vs. De La Hoya to unify after that night but I upset Garcia and De La Hoya went in a different direction. I think the De La Hoya fight would’ve been tough in the early rounds and I felt my superior conditioning and constant pressure would’ve helped me in the middle and later rounds. I always vision myself winning any fight I am in. I can’t see it any other way.”

oscar-de-la-hoya_6

Rivera, who lost his crown to Travis Simms in January 2007 – four months before De La Hoya dropped his to Floyd Mayweather Jr. – retired as a full-time fighter a few years later and went all-in on his job as an officer in the Massachusetts Court System.

He returned to the ring for individual wins in both 2018 and 2019 to boost his Rivera Promotions Entertainment enterprise, and renewed his interest in the “Golden Boy” when De La Hoya suggested earlier this year that he plans a comeback of his own.

And though Oscar insists he’ll jump into the fray against a legitimate top-10 opponent, Rivera claims a fight with him would provide a far better – and safer – barometer as to where he stands after a would-be career-ending loss to Manny Pacquiao in 2008.

He penned an open letter to De La Hoya to formally propose a challenge a few weeks back, but said he’s yet to receive a response.

“I do not think (him fighting a top-10 foe) is a good idea,” Rivera said.

“I think he should get in the ring with a former two-division world champion who is exactly his age who has been more active than him so he can test himself out first. Many boxing people think that will be a great first fight back for De La Hoya. We have two former world champions, both 47 years old, it has the Mexico vs Puerto Rico rivalry and two styles that will make for a great fight.

“I will leave it in De La Hoya’s hands. In the end he has to do what is best for him.”

Now a father of four, Rivera turned pro at age 19 and won his first 23 fights before a split-decision loss and a technical draw in the back half of 1996. Thirteen wins in his next 15 fights – including a KO of Frankie Randall – preceded a majority-decision defeat of Michel Trabant for the WBA’s welterweight title in 2003. He dropped the belt to Luis Collazo via split decision in his first defense, then moved up to beat Garcia for the aforementioned belt in his first outing at 154.

Losses to Simms and Daniel Santos followed in his next two fights in 2007 and were followed by a single win in 2008 and two in 2011, before a seven-year hiatus that ended in 2018.

“A lot of boxers put their eggs in one basket and have nothing else to fall back on,” he said. “I am fortunate to know as much as I love boxing and believed I would become a world champion someday that boxing is not forever. That is why I never quit my full-time job. I am now going on 20 years. So I do not box or promote shows to feed my family. It’s for the love of the sport.

“Besides boxing while working a full-time job, in my career I have had trainer issues, manager issues, promoter issues and personal family issues. Fighting and continuing to push through a lot of personal stuff I say is one of the hardest things a boxer can go through. Physically you can be in the best shape in the world, but if mentally you are not there it’s all for nothing. Any boxer will tell you if on fight night you are mentally, physically and spiritually strong, you feel invincible.”

As for his impression of De La Hoya, he’s always been a fan.

“I like how he used his speed and distance at the same time. One minute he was in front of you, the next he is hitting you with four, five-punch combinations and when the boxer goes to counter he is gone,” Rivera said. “That worked a lot early in his career because he was young and had fresh legs.

The “Golden Boy” won championships in six weight classes – from 130 to 160 – but was just 8-6 in his last 14 fights after starting his career at 31-0. He won title belts against Javier Castillejo, Fernando Vargas, Felix Sturm and Mayorga after his first blemish against Felix Trinidad, but also lost post-Trinidad championship fights to Shane Mosley (twice), Bernard Hopkins and Mayweather.

“You could notice his transition as a more experienced pro as he got older,” Rivera said. “He won fights more with his experience than relying on his speed alone. I think he became more of a complete boxer after the Trinidad loss, which shows we boxers can grow and get better after a loss.” 

And Rivera said he’ll be just fine, too, even if De La Hoya never replies.

He and son AJ operate the promotional company that’s designed to provide opportunities for New England fighters who might not otherwise get a chance. The firm has produced eight events thus far but is in a pandemic-related standstill for the time being.

The optimism, though, hasn’t missed a beat.

“I am blessed and grateful that I have been able to achieve my goals and dreams after I felt my life was over when I was orphaned at 10 years old,” he said. My motto growing up in life has been ‘Believe In Yourself. Work Hard. Never Give Up.’”

* * * * * * * * * *

This week’s title-fight schedule:

Vacant IBO super featherweight title – Fondi, Italy
Patrick Kinigamazi (No. 31 IBO/No. 50 IWBR) vs. Michael Magnesi (Unranked IBO/No. 68 IWBR)
Kinigamazi (32-2, 4 KO): First title fight; Won 14 straight fights since 2012 (14-0, 1 KO)
Magnesi (17-0, 9 KO): First title fight; Two stoppage wins in two scheduled 12-rounders
Fitzbitz says: OK, unless you’re among the hardest of the hardcore, this fight isn’t on the radar. But we’ll take a crack. Magnesi is far younger and seems to have more pop. He wins. Magnesi in 10 (60/40)

WBC minimum title -- Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
Wanheng Menayothin (champion/No. 2 IWBR) vs. Panya Pradabsri (No. 3 WBC/No. 13 IWBR)
Menayothin (54-0, 18 KO): Thirteenth title defense; Eight decisions and four KO/TKO wins in 12 defenses
Pradabsri (34-1, 22 KO): First title fight; Never lost a fight in Thailand (32-0, 21 KO)
Fitzbitz says: He doesn’t create fireworks but Menayothin is a darling of the purist set thanks to a pristine record. Pradabsri is a legit foe, but not a noteworthy threat. Menayothin by decision (95/5)

Last week's picks: 1-0 (WIN: Crawford)
2020 picks record: 32-6 (84.2 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,149-371 (75.6 percent)

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.

User Comments and Feedback
Comment by hitmanjosh on 11-25-2020

After years of coke and dressing in drag you better not let a coke head sissy beat you!

Comment by Letmaku on 11-24-2020

I want to see Oscar Dela Hoya Vs Pacman with no weight limit. Dela Hoya can weigh as much as 175 pounds and Pacman at ideal 150 pounds for the money fight.

Comment by 2Shotz on 11-24-2020

Too rich. Too much partying. Too old. Nope.

Comment by Liondw on 11-24-2020

I'd like to see how he looks if he comes back. Certainly, the middleweight champs today are not in Oscar's class.

Comment by KidDinamita on 11-24-2020

The only comeback that De La Hoya will do is in those fishnets.

ADD COMMENT VIEW COMMENTS (6)
Advertisement
Top Headlines
Vladimir Nikitin Battles Yerzhan Zalilov To Eight Round Draw Zhora Hamazaryan Shocks Dmitry Yun in Four Round Shoot-Out Angelo Leo: I Definitely See Myself Being a Multiple Time World Champion Ra'esse Aleem: I Would Love To Fight Akhmadaliev After I Get Pasillas Out The Way Stephen Fulton: Fight With Angelo Leo Underrated, We're Two Of Top Guys In Division One Of Three Judges Who Scored Romero-Marinez Will Work Romero-Sparrow Fight Daily Bread Mailbag: Charlos, Andrade, Sonny Liston, Pacquiao, More Pasillas: No Doubt, Fighting Another Undefeated Fighter Gives Me That Extra Push Andre Ward: I Can't Say I Was Surprised Kovalev Tested Positive For A PED Ellerbe: Romero Needs To Silence Critics, He Didn't Have Great Performance In Last Fight Pasillas: Everyone On My Team Understands My Goals - Go Straight Forward And Win Titles USA Boxing Converts Abandoned Department Store To Prepare For Olympics Dana White: Mayweather is Going To Give Paul Worst Ass-Whoopin You've Ever Seen James Tennyson on Facing Best at 135: They're Winnable Fights For Me, Very Winnable Johnson-Zumbano Added To Don King's PPV Card on January 29 Sparrow: We're Not Gonna Box Romero; Walking Straight To Him, Going For Knockout Conor McGregor: Jake Paul Is A Confused Little Kid, Boxing Him Is Not On My Radar Manager: Canelo, Media Are Underestimating Avni Yildirim Fury Promoter: Usyk Will Not Be Able To Get in The Way of Joshua Unification Ra'eese Aleem, Victor Pasillas - Set For WBA Title Fight Angelo Leo, Stephen Fulton - Ready For WBO Title Fight Topps Commemorates Muhammad Ali With 100 Piece Card Set To Be Dropped Over 50 Weeks IBF Refused To Recognize Xu Can as WBA Champion Romero To Face Sparrow In Non-Title Fight, Overweight Pauldo Fails Pre-Fight Physical Aram Avagyan Wants Jose Nunez Rematch - But With Different Officials Estrada-Chocolatito II Heading To Dallas; McCaskill-Braekhus II, Kyoguchi-Aragon Vega Added To Bill Ronnie Shields: Pauldo Cannot Fight Romero The Same Way Marinez Boxed Him Teofimo Lopez Jr. and Sr., Zepeda-Baranchyk Among 2020 BWAA Awards Honorees Stephen Fulton-Angelo Leo/Showtime Weigh-In Results From Mohegan Sun Martin Bakole Inks Advisory Deal With MTK Global Ra'esse Aleem: I'll Stop Pasillas, Prove That I'm True Threat In 122-Pound Division Claressa Shields: I'll Make MMA Debut In Mid-June; Excited To Prove All Doubters Wrong! Sor Rungvisai-Sithmorseng Clash Set For March 13 In Thailand Haney: Loma Acted Like I Didn't Exist When I Was His Mandatory; Does He Deserve Shot Now? Josh Warrington Explains Why He Took Big Risk in Vacating IBF Title Efetobor Apochi: I'm Here To Resurrect The Cruiserweight Division Wes Capper vs. Fano Kori Set For February 26 in Metro City Claressa Shields: Marshall Using My Name To Sell Fights, I'll Smoke Her! Arnold Barboza Eager To Face Jack Catterall, Willing To Fight in UK Ricards Bolotniks Would Love Lyndon Arthur or Anthony Yarde
Advertisement
Advertisement
Latest Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement