"I've come to the conclusion that it's over. It's over inside the ring for me."
These were the words of Oscar de la Hoya today, as "The Golden Boy" announced his official retirement from boxing in Los Angeles.
It was the announcement most expected from Oscar, who had the day planned for about a month.
Oscar's retirement comes four months after being manhandled by Manny Pacquiao, a smaller man most expected him to be able to beat, even if just on pure size and power. But he was out of shape, having tried too hard to maintain a weight he couldn't comfortably make anymore, and was annihilated by speed. It was by far the most one-sided loss of his career, and only the second time he'd been stopped inside the distance. It was the only time he ever quit in the ring.
But Oscar had a phenomenal career. Despite going 8-6 over his last 14 fights and losing to most of the best fighters he ever faced, his career started 31-0 against some damn solid competition. We've talked about this before.
What he leaves behind even more than just a good ring career (39-6, 30 KO) is an unparalleled record as a drawing card. No other non-heavyweight in history even comes close to what Oscar did as a phenomenon of the sport. He's the biggest mainstream crossover of the last two decades. He set the all-time record for boxing buys on pay-per-view for his clash with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2007, as 2.4 million people bought the fight, destroying the record set by the Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson rematch (1.99 million). Oscar's final fight, against Pacquiao, was bought by 1.25 million in a bad economy. De la Hoya himself made $52 million for the Mayweather bout, the biggest purse in boxing history.
Oscar won titles at 130, 135, 140, 147, 154 and even 160, though the title at 160 is debated by most, who felt he lost his fight to Felix Sturm.
He will -- fair or not -- be remembered by many boxing fans for his failures to beat Pacquiao, Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins, and Mayweather in the final stretch of his career. But personally I'll remember Oscar as an immeasurable help to the sport of boxing from 1992 through 2008. He came into the sport a superstar Olympian, and he leaves it having done more financially than any fighter ever has. He even changed the rules of major promotion in America. No one should forget that Golden Boy Promotions started with many people scoffing at the idea; because of his success, it seems every fighter at least has some prop promotional company (Jeff Lacy, Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton, Roy Jones Jr., Floyd Mayweather, and so on). But none of them have come close to what Oscar, Richard Schaefer and the other fighter-promoters have done with Golden Boy. And they probably never will.
He now steps back to exist in this sport entirely as a promoter. At 36, it's seemed for a while now that he's had far more passion for that side of the business anyway. He's not been the "old" Oscar in the ring lately, and given his level of comfort and other business interests, it's not really realistic to expect that he would be.
Happy trails, Oscar, even though you won't be going far.