By Tré Berry III🖊️| 03/17/2020
February 13th, 1999 gave us a treat to boxing, as P4P great, dubbed “The Golden Boy” 🥇🇺🇸Oscar De La Hoya (then-29-0-0, 24KO👊) was looking to make his 6th defense of his WBC World Welterweight Title against dangerously skilled Ghanaian great 🇬🇭Ike “Bazooka” Quartey (then-34-0-1, 30KO👊). While a strong argument could be made as well for De La Hoya’s performance against 🇺🇸Fernando Vargas as well for this honor for a litany of reasons, this one against Ike had more significance on Oscar’s personal journey, and served as a turning stone towards getting universal acclaim as an upper echelon great fighter.
Now why this fight was to be a highly significant one in both the careers of De La Hoya and Quartey has to do with both of their personal journeys. For Quartey, he (rightfully so) had the reputation of being a great fighter due to his overall all-around ability, skills, fundamentals, and shotgun jab…all this despite never having the opportunity to fight a fellow great fighter to definitively prove his stature as such.
BAZOOKA QUARTEY IN CELEBRATION
For Oscar, he quickly 📈rose up the ranks, and burned his way through the competition, leaving strong imprints in the minds of boxing fans as unmistakably boxing’s next big star, and he lived that out in his early years. There were some detractors who would accurately point out that although Oscar had wins over good and great fighters, that albeit clearly a great boxer, some standout boxers that he had faced were over-the-hill, past their prime, with their abilities overblown at the time of their meeting (🥇🇺🇸Pernell Whitaker, 🇲🇽Julio Cesar Chavez in their two encounters, 🇵🇷Hector Camacho, etc.).
OSCAR AFTER LANDING AGAINST CHAVEZ
Sprinkled in the mix was a debatable/controversial decision against Whitaker that had went in Oscar’s favor. It was time for Oscar to make a major statement, and show that he could do against a strong, elite, prime Welterweight who too also shared the ability to stake claim as a generational standout. With both boxers being undefeated, we ultimately got the fight we were looking for, as it would go down to the wire.
THE SHOWDOWN🥊🥊 – Ike’s jab (being the best in the sport at that time) was used in abundance, effectively controlling the fight with a wide variation of different jabs and had Oscar hesitant, plagued with confusion on how to get around it. Oscar every once in a while would flurry, inciting a crowd reaction, but minimal damage was done, and much of his punches were being picked off by Quartey’s tight defensive positioning with his gloves high and elbows inward.
With this approach, Ike in the first half of the fight clearly established superior ring generalship, and had control of the tempo, outpointing the “Golden Boy” and living up to the billing of his stature and the level he was regarded at. After the 5th round, the De La Hoya contingent appeared concerned about the prospects of what their fighter was going up against.
The 6th round, Oscar looked to have turned his fortunes early when he knocked Quartey down with a big left hook early in first few seconds of the round. Ike got up unphased, and went back to business. In that very same round, Quartey returned the favor and put De La Hoya’s seat on the canvas with a short check-left hook.
Oscar got right up, but Ike did a very good job of carrying his momentum through the remainder of the round, as well as the 7th, with 📈growing confidence. Behind in the course of the action, and with Oscar’s left eye starting to swell up, he adapted, understanding that his initial basis of attack wasn’t working, and further asserted himself to get his offense going while he looked for multiple ways to pick off and slip the active jab of the Ghanaian fighter.
Shifting the tide of the action, Oscar nearly dropped Quartey in the 10th round with a quick check-left-hook, wobbling Ike at the knees, but the calm, even-keeled demeanor of Ike was instrumental in keeping his poise in tact, and in him re-establishing his positioning. The fight had the feel of being a tight one leading up to the 12th and final round, which turned out to be a legendary one. Oscar once again caught Quartey with a 💥left hook, a bigger one than what floored him 6 rounds prior, and knocked him down once again with it.
With the pro-Oscar De La Hoya crowd now in a full frenzy understanding the major implications upon this development, Oscar came forward to deliver the gutsiest moment of his career, unleashing everything he had and pummeled Ike during the middle portion of the round with every punch you could think of. Ike was throwing back, but he wasn’t connecting the way he intended to, and Oscar was visibly rocking him with his hooks. Somehow Quartey survived the De La Hoya blitz, but through the smile he had dawned throughout the fight, he was a beaten man, but Oscar no longer had any stamina to finish. They would coast to the 🛎️final bell, and the fight would go to the cards.
A raucous crowd erupted as Oscar De La Hoya was announced the winner by way of Split-Decision victory, and Ike Quartey was stunned that his name wasn’t called. Unfortunately for him, his dismal 12th round didn’t do him any positive favors. Now while this may have not been Oscar’s most satisfying personal victory (🇺🇸Fernando Vargas|🇳🇮Ricardo Mayorga), the biggest name he’s defeated in his career (🇲🇽Julio Cesar Chavez), or the best name that he had a victory over (🥇🇺🇸Pernell Whitaker), but his victory over Ike Quartey was the first victory over someone of great all-around ability, that was in the prime of his career, and the way that Oscar did it, while digging down deep to find what he needed to clear a dangerous opponent did a number in sticking in the minds of the boxing community as one who had a deep 🌊reservoir to pull from in tough times, enhancing his stock as a fighter. Oscar would go on to state that the Quartey fight made him a better fighter overall, and was instrumental in inspiring him to seek to adding to his arsenal as a boxer.