When Oscar De La Hoya turned 25, he had already won a gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and 27 professional fights, including world titles in four divisions.
De La Hoya, a 2014 inductee to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, had faced a variety of high-quality fighters, with some already in the twilight of their careers and others on their way to the top of the sport.
But despite his own numbers and accomplishments, De La Hoya admits he is surprised by what Mexican star Canelo Alvarez has achieved by age 25. De La Hoya, the founder of Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Alvarez, admits his fighter has earned his admiration.
Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) has won three titles in two different divisions and, as was the case with De La Hoya, is seen as the new face of boxing. He sets to make the first defense of his middleweight championship Saturday against Amir Khan at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
"I see some similarities, of course, but I feel that [Alvarez] is more advanced than me at this point in his career," De La Hoya said.
At 25, De La Hoya had already headlined six pay-per-view events compared to Canelo's four. However, at that point, De La Hoya's fights had generated a combined 2.4 million buys while Canelo has reached 3.75 million homes.
"He is ahead of where I was. He has achieved more than I had when I was 25," De La Hoya said. "People tend to forget that he is only 25. So at this early stage of his career he is a bit more advanced. And I admire that. I admire his career and I will support him 100 percent, because he is still young and has much to accomplish."
By age 25, De La Hoya had faced the following champions or former titleholders: Hector Camacho, Pernell Whitaker, Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jesse James Leija, Genaro Hernandez, Rafael Ruelas and Jorge Paez -- defeating all of them, including seven by knockout.
At the same age, Alvarez has faced: Miguel Vazquez, Carlos Baldomir, Lovemore Ndou, Kermit Cintron, Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, Floyd Mayweather, Alfredo Angulo, Erislandy Lara and Miguel Cotto -- losing only to Mayweather and knocking out three of his opponents.
After the age of 25, De La Hoya went on to win titles at junior middleweight and middleweight to become the first fighter in history to win titles in six different divisions (Manny Pacquiao went on to surpass his record with eight). De La Hoya also suffered key defeats to Felix Trinidad, Mosley (in their rematch), Bernard Hopkins, Mayweather and Pacquiao.
A victory against Khan will give Alvarez the opportunity to cement his position in the middleweight division and look ahead to some of the big-name fights on the horizon. Although he may lose some fights, there is a chance that, as was the case with his now promoter, any defeats will not prevent him from leaving a lasting legacy.