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De La Hoya: 'Incredible' Valero was the hardest puncher he ever faced

Oscar De La Hoya has revealed that Edwin Valero was the heaviest-handed fighter he ever encountered.

De La Hoya retired after being stopped by Manny Pacquiao in 2008 – two years before the 28-year-old Valero died by suicide – but he anticipated defeat that night at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand because of the extent to which he struggled with Valero while they sparred.

During a decorated career De La Hoya won world titles from super featherweight to middleweight, and among others fought the explosive Pacquiao, Felix Trinidad and Shane Mosley. He was also stopped by the great Bernard Hopkins at middleweight, and yet Venezuela’s “incredible” Valero – who fought no higher than at lightweight – was the most powerful puncher of them all.

“It was here,” the 50-year-old told ProBox TV from his former training base at Big Bear. “He would kick my ass right here – bruise me up. Training for Manny Pacquiao.

“I was fighting at 160-pounds; I made the mistake of coming down to 147-pounds; I was too weak. But in sparring, I knew I wasn’t going to beat Manny Pacquiao because I was getting my ass whipped in training.

“It never happened to me. I was always a warrior in training. I was always handling my sparring partners. So that first time that it happened, with Edwin Valero, I was, ‘Oh my gosh – I’m in trouble’.”

In retirement De La Hoya is attempting to guide Golden Boy fighters Ryan Garcia, Jaime Munguia and Vergil Ortiz to world titles.

“He was the hardest puncher I’ve ever faced, and he was hitting me with sparring gloves,” he continued. “That’s how hard he hits.

“He was 100mph every single second. He was incredible.”

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