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One of a kind title matchup

Oscar De La Hoya has been in enough big fights to know what each one means. Some have helped build his reputation, others have made him rich.

So don't just chalk it up to hype when he says his fight tonight against Bernard Hopkins means more than all of them put together.

"This is for all the marbles," De La Hoya said. "This is the fight that will define my career."

For once, De La Hoya may not be exaggerating. By challenging Hopkins for the undisputed middleweight title, he has either picked a great way to stake his claim to history or a spectacular way to end his career.

Fighting a bigger, stronger fighter who doesn't remember what it's like to lose, De La Hoya most likely will need the fight of his life to become an undisputed champion for the first time in his spectacular career.

"The only situation I've never experienced is being the underdog. It's burning me inside," De La Hoya said. "I just want to show everybody I'm a winner."

So does Hopkins, whose hardscrabble life and stubborn insistence on doing things his way kept him from getting his first big money fight until age 39.

"De La Hoya has done everything you can do in boxing. He made more money that any fighter probably in the history of boxing," Hopkins said. "But give me a rich fighter and a hungry fighter, and I'll take the hungry fighter every time."

De La Hoya weighed in at 155 pounds Friday, while Hopkins was 156. The contract weight limit for the fight was 158 pounds.

Hopkins (44-2-1, 31 knockouts) hasn't lost in 11 years and has defended his middleweight title 18 times.

"I'm going to set a fierce pace. It's going to be a Marvin Hagler-Tommy Hearns kind of fight," Hopkins said. "If he takes a deep breath, it's over.

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