LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar De La Hoya, the “Golden Boy” who has held world titles in six different weight classes, announced his retirement from the ring on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old Los Angeles native, arguably the biggest name in contemporary boxing, ended a glittering career four months after his final bout with a win-loss record of 39-6 including 30 knockouts.
“Boxing is my passion, boxing is what I was born to do,” a visibly emotional De La Hoya told a news conference in downtown Los Angeles.
“And when I can’t do it any more, when I can’t compete at the highest level, it’s not fair. It’s not fair to me, it’s not fair to the fans. I’ve come to the conclusion that’s over, it’s over inside the ring for me.
“When you’re an athlete who has competed on the highest level for a lot of years, it’s not fair to step inside the ring and not give my best.”
De La Hoya, who has lost four of his last seven fights, struggled to choke back the tears while paying tribute to the support of his wife, Millie, and his father, Joel Sr., a former boxer.
“I promise to myself, I promise to my family and I promise to everyone that this is it,” he added. “This is the end of the road for me inside the ring.”
De La Hoya, a gold medal winner at the 1992 Olympic Games, has not fought since being stunned by Filipino Manny Pacquiao with an eighth-round TKO in their non-title fight in Las Vegas in December.
Although Pacquiao had moved up two weight classes for his first bout at welterweight, he dominated De La Hoya from the opening bell.
The Mexican-American with the matinee idol good looks has been one of the most popular figures in boxing for more than a decade and was rated the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighter for the first time in 1997.
According to many critics, the greatest fight of De La Hoya’s career was his technical knockout of fellow American Fernando Vargas in Las Vegas in September 2002 when he unified the WBA and WBC super-welterweight titles.
In an eagerly anticipated bout dubbed “Bad Blood,” De La Hoya floored WBA champion Vargas with a left hook to the head in the 11th round.
He was pounding a defenseless Vargas in the corner before referee Joe Cortez stopped the fight with 48 seconds remaining in the round.
In May 2007, De La Hoya lost the WBC super-welterweight title on a split decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas in the highest-grossing fight in boxing history.
Although he outpointed fellow American Steve Forbes in a non-title bout 12 months later, his heavy defeat by Pacquiao proved to be his swansong.
De La Hoya will remain involved in boxing as a promoter with his Golden Boy Promotions company while continuing to raise money through his various charitable initiatives.
Editing by Ed Osmond