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He defended the title once, stopping Giorgio Campanella (20–0) in three rounds.On July 29, 1994, he knocked out Jorge Páez (53–6–4) in the second round to win the vacant WBO Lightweight title.
De La Hoya took promoter Bob Arum to court in the fall of 2000, trying to break his contract with the promoter.In his sixth and final defense of the WBO lightweight title, he knocked out Jesse James Leija (30–1–2) in two rounds at New York's Madison Square Garden. Until their rematch in 1998, Chávez stated that De La Hoya did not defeat him since the fight was stopped.De La Hoya successfully defended his titles with a twelve-round unanimous decision against undefeated former WBC Lightweight Champion and number one light welterweight contender Miguel Ángel González (41–0–0)."I don't have blue eyes and I am not white, but a Mexican arriving on the cusp of fame, and that is what they do not support," De La Hoya told La Opinion in 2001."Bob Arum's people hope I lose because they can't see a Mexican above them, and also that he defeated one of the biggest Jews to come out of Harvard." De La Hoya did not fight for the 15 months and in this time the rivalry between him and WBA champion "Ferocious" Fernando Vargas (22–1) grew. The fight was scheduled for early 2002, but De La Hoya had to withdraw because of a hand injury.
In 1989, he won the National Golden Gloves title in the bantamweight division. The joy of victory was tempered by the news that his mother, Cecilia, was terminally ill with breast cancer.