During a recent interview with RingTV.com, Golden Boy Promotions President Oscar De La Hoya assessed his respective losses to WBC lightheavyweight beltholder and RING champion Bernard Hopkins, unbeaten five-division, six-time titlewinner Floyd Mayweather Jr. and WBO welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao.
De La Hoya concluded that Hopkins was the best of the three.
“I would have to rank Hopkins first. Hopkins, because he was willing to fight me. He was difficult to hit. But not only was he patient strategically, he knew that his game plan was going to beat me,” said De La Hoya, who is 38.
“I think that he had it all planned out right from the start. Hopkins is a very strong puncher and he can take a punch. Hopkins is fast. He’s got heart.”
De La Hoya was knocked out in the ninth round by Hopkins in September of 2004, lost a split-decision to Mayweather in May of 2007, and was stopped in eight rounds by Pacquiao in the last fight of his career in December of 2008.
The holder of a record 20 title defenses as undisputed middleweight champion, Hopkins, of course, agrees with De La Hoya’s assertions, adding, “I’m glad that he said it first before I had to.”
“I think that anybody who knows styles and boxing and who has credibility, we all know that Oscar has credibility. So he said that, and I don’t disagree with him. I’m a boxing fan of Manny Pacquiao’s, and I respect his skills. I also respect Floyd Mayweather’s skills,” said Hopkins.
“There are different styles for different fighters, but when you talk about all-around skills and experience, I think that I win that hands down. So based on all-around skills and based on longevity, I think think that I win that hands down.”
Hopkins and De La Hoya met as middleweights weighing 156, and, 155 pounds respectively, while De La Hoya and Mayweather were junior middleweights at 154 and 150.
De La Hoya said that he was drained when he faced Pacquiao, dropping down to 145 pounds to Pacquiao’s 142.
“I’m not doubting my abilities, I mean, I was actually doing well against Hopkins. Then again, I was younger than when I fought Mayweather and when I fought Pacquiao. My abilities were outstanding, but that’s when I was younger and when I was able to perform against a Hopkins,” said De La Hoya.
“I did well against Hopkins until he caught me with that body shot. If I had fought Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao when I was younger, it would have been a whole different story. Who knows what the outcome would have been, but it would have been an entirely different outcome.”
The 34-year-old Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) has an upcoming clash opposite WBC welterweight beltholder Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) that is slated for HBO Pay Per View from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sept. 17.
The 46-year-old Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) has a defense of his belt against Chad Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles that will also be televised on HBO Pay Per View on Oct. 15.
The 32-year-old Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs), winner of crowns in eight divisions through junior middleweight, will make a defense of his title in his third bout with Juan Manuel Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs) on Nov. 12 on HBO Pay Per View from the MGM Grand.
Pacquiao is after his 15th consecutive win and his ninth stoppage during that time against the 38-year-old Marquez, whom he has battled to a draw and a disputed split-decision win, respectively, in May of 2004 and March of 2008.
Pacquiao floored Marquez three times during the first round of their initial meeting as featherweights, and dropped him once more in their second when they met as junior lightweights.
“I think that all three of us — Floyd Mayweather, myself and Manny Pacquiao — there’s a lot of greatness that we’ve established for ourselves. But I still have that hunger, and I believe that Oscar puts all of that into his thought process,” said Hopkins.
“So I know for a fact that the things I’ve done in boxing, from the middleweight to jumping up two weight classes to the lightheavyweight division, there are historic things that I’ve done that Manny hasn’t done, and Floyd hasn’t done.”
After consecutive losses to Jermain Taylor in July and December of 2005, the first of which ended Hopkins’ consecutive run of middleweight wins, he rose to lightheavyweight for a dominating unanimous decision over titlewinner Antonio Tarver.
“There are some people who will say that Oscar was smaller than me, and he was. But there have been smaller, great fighters who have overcome challenges and disadvantages in height weight and things like that, because I’ve done it. So I definitely agree with Oscar, and like I said, I’m glad that he said it before I said it,” said Hopkins.
“Not taking anything anything from Manny Pacquiao, and not taking anything away from Floyd Mayweather, but guess what? They still have time to accomplish everything that I’ve done and more, because they’re younger, and they have that ability and that talent to make that happen. But I’ve been in the game for more than two decades, and I think that after Oct. 15, there will be even more different conversations about my greatness.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com