St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
tampabay.com

printer version

De La Hoya KOs Vargas and critics

Super-welterweight champion sets sights on Mosley or Trinidad.

©Associated Press
September 16, 2002


LAS VEGAS -- Just when it seemed Oscar De La Hoya might be nearing the end of his career, he came up with the fight of his life. In doing so, he also answered a lot of questions about his heart.

Criticized for running against Felix Trinidad, De La Hoya stood and punched it out with Fernando Vargas, scoring a knockout win Saturday night that may have done as much for his career and reputation as winning the gold medal in the 1992 Olympics.

"Boxing's a tough sport. Sometimes you have to let your fists do the talking," De La Hoya said. "I let my fists do the talking this time."

De La Hoya survived a barrage of right hands from a fighter who was younger and supposed to be stronger only to come back and dominate the middle rounds, then stopped a bloodied and battered Vargas in the 11th round.

Vargas, 24, had said he would rather die than lose, and there were questions whether De La Hoya had the heart to match him.

It turned out he did, and more, in a fight that had the sellout crowd screaming in delight.

"That was the signature fight for Oscar," promoter Bob Arum said. "This was his best performance ever."

De La Hoya, 31, overcame questions about his left hand and his ability to punch at 154 pounds to finally take apart a Los Angeles-area rival who did everything he could to irritate him.

He earned $14-million, added the WBA super welterweight title to the WBC belt he already held and once again established himself as boxing's premier non-heavyweight attraction.

De La Hoya also promised there would be more to come.

"I'm hungry, hungrier than ever," he said. "I feel fresh."

De La Hoya needed to win what had become a neighborhood feud to set up two more fights he really wants -- rematches against Felix Trinidad and Shane Mosley, the only two fighters to beat him.

Trinidad insists he's retired, but Mosley was at ringside and says he's game. De La Hoya is likely to fight a lesser fighter in January and then possibly fight Mosley in May.

"The mistake Vargas made was he didn't respect De La Hoya's power and ability," Mosley said.

De La Hoya hadn't fought in 15 months and still was concerned going into the fight that the injury to his left hand that forced the fight to be postponed from May 4 might cause him problems.

The hand was fine, though, and it showed when De La Hoya landed a left hook in the closing seconds of the 10th. The shot buckled Vargas' knees, and he went back to his corner out of it.

"Wake up, wake up," trainer Eduardo Garcia shouted to him.

Vargas came out for the 11th, but it didn't take long for De La Hoya to work him to a neutral corner where another left hook dropped Vargas on his back. Vargas got up, but De La Hoya was all over him with a flurry of unanswered punches that prompted referee Joe Cortez to stop the fight at 1:48.

Vargas, who has made no secret of his intense dislike for De La Hoya since he was an amateur, immediately left the ring without congratulating the winner. He was hospitalized and treated for a fracture of his right eye socket.

De La Hoya smiled at the irony that Vargas was not talking after he spent months deriding De La Hoya for his lack of passion in the ring and calling him a sellout to his Hispanic fans.

"It was a very satisfying win because he was talking too much," De La Hoya said. "I don't understand why he was talking so much trash about a fellow fighter. Imagine in golf if Tiger Woods talked trash about Jack Nicklaus. It just doesn't make sense."

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright
 

From the Times sports desk
  • Bulls' downfall began with ground attack
  • Newman breaks out
  • Hornish captures second IRL title
  • Distractions don't faze Stewart
  • De La Hoya KOs Vargas and critics
  • Sports briefs
  • AL: Glaus powers Angels into first
  • NL: Schilling forms a 300K duo
  • Twins clinch Central crown
  • Tigers hold tribute to their legendary voice
  • Forsman snaps winless streak
  • Sorenstam picks up 39th LPGA Tour title
  • Weekes collapses at camp
  • 'It was about what we expected'
  • McPherson doesn't get call
  • The ante is raised this week
  • College football roundup
  • FG miss keeps Bears unbeaten
  • Victorious Panthers have no complaints
  • NFL notes: Sending out plays tough for Broncos
  • Saints halt Favre to stay on top
  • Jaguars work quickly to top Chiefs
  • Collins, Giants strike early against stumbling Rams
  • Dolphins ruin Dungy's plans
  • NFL Round-up
  • Division game spurs Redskins, Eagles
  • Raiders pass test easily

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report

  • Rays
  • Tryouts continue as Rays end skid
  • LHP in the zone at site of debut

  • Bucs
  • Gimme Five
  • Walker back on line after a wakeup call
  • Williams steps up at key moments
  • Bucs, Ravens quotebooks
  • Sound bites
  • Quoth the Defense: Never Score
  • Game balls
  • Defense silences its critics

  • Letters
  • Feedback: Johnson worthy of the praise

  • Lightning
  • Lightning could ride goalie to playoffs
  • Rancorous labor fight looms large
  • Lack of progress could lead to deals


  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts