Oscar de la Hoya: 1973—: Boxer
Became Knock-out King
The Olympics was the last event of De La Hoya's amateur career and he ended with an amateur record of 223 wins and 5 losses, with an impressive 153 knock-outs. After the Olympics De La Hoya decided to turn professional. As he told Sports Illustrated, "I won the gold for my mom. Now the championship will be for me." On September 4, 1992 De La Hoya signed the richest deal in boxing history for over $1 million with New York agents Robert Mittleman and Steve Nelson. The deal included money for a house for his family in Montebello, quite a step up from the barrio in which he grew up.
De La Hoya's first professional fight was on November 23, 1992 against Lamar Williams. He knocked Williams out in the first round. His next opponent, Cliff Hicks, suffered the same fate in December 1992. In 1993 De La Hoya won nine more fights, mostly with knock-outs. While young boxing professionals often fight less talented opponents in order to improve their record, De La Hoya fought some tough competitors early in his career, including Mexican champion Narcisco Valenzuela. Despite his professional and popular success, De La Hoya broke his contract with Mittleman and Nelson in December 1993 after only one year because he wanted more control over his career. Instead he chose to be advised by his father, his cousin Gerardo Salas, and Los Angeles advertising consultant Raynaldo Garza. At the same time De La Hoya signed a three-year deal with promoter Bob Arum, one of the biggest promoters in boxing.
In 1994 and 1995 De La Hoya continued his winning streak. On May 6, 1995 he captured the InternationalBoxing Federation lightweight title against Rafael Ruelas. However, an earlier fight against John John Molina made De La Hoya question his strategy. Even though he won the bout, De La Hoya was disarmed by Molina's style and he felt he needed a more experienced trainer to better prepare him for his matches. In February 1995 De La Hoya replaced family friend Robert Alcazar as his trainer with Jesus "The Professor" Rivero. Rivero's philosophy was to develop the boxer as a whole person, both in and out of the ring. He encouraged De La Hoya to develop his mind by reading literature and listening to classical music.
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