Oscar De La Hoya quits boxing

April 14, 2009 1:30:18 PM PDT
Oscar De La Hoya called it quits in the ring Tuesday, ending a career in which he won 10 world titles in six divisions and became boxing's most popular fighter. He announced his decision at an outdoor plaza across the street from Staples Center, where a statue of the 36-year-old Golden Boy stands.

"I've come to the conclusion that it's over," the native of East Los Angeles said before hundreds of fans. "It's over inside the ring for me."

De La Hoya retires four months after he was thoroughly beaten by Manny Pacquiao, his fourth loss in his last seven fights. It's been several years since De La Hoya beat a truly daunting opponent. He finished with a record of 39-6 and 30 knockouts.

"This is the love of my life, boxing is my passion, boxing is what I was born to do," he said. "When I can't do it anymore, 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, it's not fair to nobody."

De La Hoya said he based his decision on not wanting to let down his fans or himself. But he admitted he struggled to make the final decision.

"Now I understand why athletes have such a tough time retiring from something that you feel so passionate about, from your sport that you're always thinking you can try one more time," he said.

"I can still train hard and I can still compete, but when you're an athlete that has competed on the highest level for a lot of years, it's not fair. It's not fair to step inside the ring and not give my best."

De La Hoya maintained the same stern expression on his face throughout his remarks, with his voice breaking only when he thanked his father, Joel, who sat on the stage with the boxer's wife, Millie.

"I remember the times when he would take me to the gym and never gave up on me," De La Hoya said. "We've lived some tough moments inside the ring, we've been through everything, but my father was always there for me. Thank you for pushing me as hard as you can."

De La Hoya began boxing at age 5, following in the path of his grandfather and father. He won an Olympic gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Games, launching a pro career that brought him worldwide fame and riches.

He will stay involved in the sport as a promoter with his successful Golden Boy Promotions company. He had been juggling the roles of boxer and promoter in the last few years.

De La Hoya's retirement means the end of a cash cow for cable network HBO, which broadcast 32 of his fights - most of any boxer - and generated millions in pay-per-view profits.

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