Last Updated on September 28, 2002 by Paulette Brown-Hinds
By Jon D. Gaede
The fight that many thought would never be fought was definitely the most entertaining of the year.
At stake was the unification of two belts and a lot more. De La Hoya held the 154 pound World Boxing Council (WBC) Championship and Vargas held the World Boxing Association (WBA) belt at the same weight. Beyond the belts, these two fighters share legimate hostility toward each other. They both hold mountain training camps in Big Bear, but that is where the similarities ends.
Fernando Vargas has claimed for years that Oscar De La Hoya had pushed him down and laughed at him during a winter jog in Big Bear. Beyond that, Fernando has accused Oscar of being something less than a true Mexican champion. De La Hoya points out that both fighters were born and raised in the United States and that he earned a USA gold medal at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. De La Hoya honors the fact that the United States has given him the opportunity to make a great deal of money and fulfill his dreams.
The Mandalay Bay Event Center was the venue chosen to harness and showcase all the bad blood, talent and aggression. Vargas continued to perpetuate the hostility by shoving De La Hoya at a recent news conference. Oscar played down most of the hostility, however, and did say that he wanted the fight to last for many rounds so he could teach Fernando a boxing lesson.
Round one was initiated by a very aggressive Fernando Vargas. He seemed to catch De La Hoya by surprise and he had Oscar back peddling and trying to protect himself. De La Hoya found himself against the ropes at times and Vargas tried to close in on him. Many of the punches were slipped or blocked by an agile De La Hoya but some shots did get through. Vargas may have taken several of the initial rounds and fight fans seemed to sense that this was the war that was promised.
In rounds six through eleven, De La Hoya seemed to constantly reinvent himself and confuse his opponent. He dropped his right hand on occasion, allah Roy Jones. He crouched down low, only to lurch forward and send a solid shot to the head of Vargas.
De La Hoya caught Vargas with a solid right cross in the 10th round that Vargas says he never recovered from. The 11th was the beginning of the end. De La Hoya delivered some vicious, precision left hooks that sent a dazed Vargas to the mat. After the eight count, De La Hoya released a barrage of some 16 power punches that ended the fight at 1:48 of the 11th.
On this night, Oscar De La Hoya was quicker, smarter and tougher. His stock is on the rise once again!