He was, much like Ernie Gonzalez also, the United States top Olympic boxing hope when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. On her death bed she made him promise he'd win the gold, and he did. Sadly, she passed away at 35.
De La Hoya signed for 1 million dollars with promoter Bob Arum and went on to win 5 world titles and beat former and current world champions like Troy Dorsey (KO 1), Jimmy Bredahl, (KO 10), Jorge Paez, (KO 2), Genaro Hernandez (KO 6), John John Molina (Split Decision win 12), Rafael Ruelas (KO 2), Julio Cesar Chavez (KO 4, KO 8), Miguel Angel Gonzalez (Unanimous Decision win 12), Jesse James Leija (KO 2), Pernell Whitaker (SD win 12), Hector 'Macho' Camacho (UD win 12), Ike Quartey (SD win 12), Arturo Gatti (KO 5), Francisco Javier Castillejos (UD win 12) and Fernando Vargas (KO 11).
He also has lost to world champions Felix Trinidad (Majority decision loss 12), and Shane Mosley (UD loss 12).
De La Hoya is one of the favorite boxers of American cable channel HBO, where he currently produces a popular Spanish language boxing show called Boxeo de Oro.
De La Hoya's interests outside the ring include architecture, acting, fashion designing, and singing. He designed and built his own house in Big Bear Lake, California, has a clothing line (BUM, or Boxing UniforMs) and released a Grammy nominated cd.
He is married to Puerto Rican singing super star Millie Corretjer and currently lives half of the year in Los Angeles and the other half in Puerto Rico.
On May 3, 2003, as part of the Cinco de Mayo festivities, he retained his WBC and WBA world Jr Middleweight championships, when the corner of his rival, former world champion Yori Boy Campas understood that Campas had taken too much punishment in round seven and threw in the towel, indicating that they were giving up, and officially giving De La Hoya a seventh round knockout win. De La Hoya hurt his left hand in the process of defeating Campas. On September 13, he and former rival Mosley met once again, in Las Vegas, and Mosley once gain took away De La Hoya's world title belts, with a 12 round unanimous decision over The Golden Boy.
On February 9, 2004, the FBI announced it would investigate whether the rematch with Mosley had been fixed, placing Arum's promoting company, Top Rank, in the middle of a scandal that allegedly involved bribing the judges so they would score the fight for Mosley.
De La Hoya's record stands at 36 wins and 3 defeats, with 31 wins by knockout.