Sports 56 WHBlog Q

May 5, 2008

The Two Faces of Oscar De La Hoya: A Response to Rob Fischer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tyler McLellan @ 1:37 pm

The best thing about any Oscar De La Hoya fight is that it attracts attention to the sport of boxing, something it sorely needs. The other side of that coin, though, is that as a result of all that attention, many talking or writing heads will form misguided or uninformed opinions about boxing. Peter Edmiston feels very much the same way about how the World Cup does pretty much the exact same thing for the sport of soccer in the United States.

FightNews.com

When I read Rob Fischer’s post about the De La Hoya-Forbes fight (see his latest “Sunday on the Couch”), I knew I would have to respond. And no, this will not be a “boxing is the greatest sport” post, but rather a breakdown of Rob’s thoughts, which mirror what many casual boxing fans wrongly believe. There are two faces of De La Hoya–the promoter and the fighter. Rob, like many others, believe Oscar is a great promoter that is working for the fighters and the fans moreso than the other big promotional companies. At the same time, Rob and many others think Oscar should stick to promoting as he is clearly finished as a fighter. I take exception with both points.

Rob’s words will be italicized.

“Fighters want to join his stable and his card’s because he has the fighter’s interest at heart. I think fighters would trust him, at least more than any other promoter you can think of. Go ahead, try to give me one that can be trusted!”

It’s probably true that fighters would trust De La Hoya based on his status as a still-active fighter, unlike other mega promoters like Bob Arum (Top Rank) and Don King. But no promoter can be trusted, not even ones that occasionally lace up the gloves themselves.

“Anyway, Oscar has done a great job getting fights that lead to title bouts.”

I’m not sure what Rob is saying in that first sentence; whether he means Oscar is setting up a title fight for himself (the assumed rematch with Mayweather in September), or for his fighters in Golden Boy Promotions. If he means Oscar himself, as it would seem, then it should be noted that De La Hoya–under absolutely NO circumstances–ever has to beat anyone to get a title shot. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that boxing isn’t about titles anymore anyway, only money.

De La Hoya is THE lottery ticket in boxing, the guy EVERYONE from 130 lbs. to 170 lbs. wants to fight. Think about that discrepancy for a second. Manny Pacquiao, currently a titleholder at 130 lbs. and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, is willing to move up to 147 lbs. to fight him. Winky Wright, whose last fight was at 170 lbs. against Bernard Hopkins last July, wants to move all the way down to 154 lbs. to fight him. Belts mean nothing, they all want the big payday that comes with a De La Hoya fight. The fact that Oscar can draw 27,000 people in Los Angeles to a fight against a huge underdog in Steve Forbes who was overmatched and undersized with NO co-featured fight and a pathetic undercard says everything.

“He hasn’t gone the route of Pay-per-view, which gives many more fight fans the opportunity to watch great fights on HBO.”

Again, I’m not sure if Rob is specifically referring to De La Hoya here or his promotional company, but allow me to retort in both respects. Saturday night was the first time Oscar has fought on non-PPV HBO World Championship Boxing since 2001, against the also overmatched and undersized Arturo Gatti. His next EIGHT outings were on pay-per-view, from big events like his fights against Shane Mosley (the rematch), Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather Jr., to glorified exhibitions against Yory Boy Campas, Javier Castillejo and Felix Sturm.

As far as Golden Boy Promotions, they are just as guilty as any other promotional company about milking pay-per-view for all it’s worth. The fact is, in today’s boxing world, a company is forced to use pay-per-view if HBO or Showtime is not willing to pony up enough money to help an event happen on “free” TV (seeing as both networks are on premium cable, calling it “free” is absurd). Golden Boy did put the Joe Calzaghe-Bernard Hopkins fight from this past April 19 on HBO and not on pay-per-view, but a fight of that magnitude that is not on pay-per-view occurs MAYBE twice a year for boxing.

Plenty of other underwhelming boxing events like Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Mzonke Fana and Bernard Hopkins-Winky Wright (full disclaimer: Winky and Bernard are my two favorite fighters, but to put it on PPV was a mistake) have been put on pay-per-view by De La Hoya’s company. Moreover, in just a few weeks, on May 31st Shane Mosley will face Zab Judah in what should be a very entertaining fight…on pay-per-view–brought to you by Golden Boy Promotions. Oh, and Mayweather-De La Hoya II will not only be on pay-per-view, but the “suggested price” will be at least $10 more than the usual $49.99.

“One thing he needs to do is stop fighting! Oscar has gotten old.”

As much as I will criticize his company, I will not demand him to retire from the ring, not when he is still a very competent fighter easily capable of beating any non-elite fighter in the sport. Let’s not forget that his loss to Mayweather last year was by split decision, and a single point on one scorecard was the difference. Also, while he may not have had a show-stopping performance Saturday night against Forbes, the consensus among boxing people is that he looked very good, maybe not “perfect” like HBO’s Emmanuel Steward was proclaiming, but he did turn in a solid performance. Oscar’s jab and left hook are still top notch, and while his reflexes are not what they used to be, he is by no means over the hill.

De La Hoya dominated with the jab.

De La Hoya is planning on retiring at the end of the year after two more fights–the rematch with Mayweather in September and a farewell bout in December. But those two fights, if indeed that is it for his career, will be huge events and very good for the sport of boxing because of the attention they will bring.

He’s planning on a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September. HE HAS NO CHANCE.

AP

I will again pick Mayweather to win the fight, but I also expect it to be a close, competitive fight. Unfortunately for the casual fan, it will look much like their first fight, which was not exactly a barnburner. De La Hoya definitely has a chance, though, especially if he keeps jabbing in the later rounds, which he inexplicably stopped doing in the first fight. Mayweather has never been as befuddled and limited by an opponent’s strategy as much as he was when Oscar was pumping the jab in the middle rounds of their first fight.

Watching him fight Forbes was one of the worst fights I’ve seen in a long time. To see Oscar fight just once a year is probably enough, but I wish it was worth watching. Saturday night, you had an old former champ fighting a guy that had no interest in winning. Good luck in September Oscar, but do us a favor- Just stick to the promoting. You can do a great deal for the sweet science, but getting in the ring isn’t helping.

Wow, Rob, you must not watch much boxing at all. Unless all you have seen in the last few years was the Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez trilogy (for those of you who don’t know, YouTube it!) and old tapes of Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo and Felix Trinidad-Fernando Vargas. The fact is De La Hoya is one of the more exciting fighters out there, especially considering his superstar status. If you want to complain about big boxing stars stinking up the joint, I will refer you to Bernard Hopkins and even Floyd Mayweather Jr., who for as great as he is, refuses to take risks in the ring.

You won’t find many, if any, boxing fans who didn’t enjoy the action De La Hoya-Forbes more than any other fights this year NOT fought in the month of March (see my previous blog post for more on that month in boxing).
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Well, at least people were watching. As a boxing fan, the sport needs more eyeballs and while their opinions may not be very educated, at least they are investing time in the sport and that is what it needs. As such, allow me to recommend this upcoming schedule of selected fights that deserve your attention, rated on a scale from 1-10 based on how exciting they are shaping up to be:

Upcoming Notable Fights
May 17: HBO Boxing After Dark
James Kirkland vs. Eromosele Albert: 7
Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Darling Jimenez: 8
Alfredo Angulo vs. Richard Gutierrez: 6
–Kirkland, Gamboa and Angulo are three of the best rising prospects in boxing today, all young, undefeated power punchers. HBO rarely provides a three fights in a single boxing telecast, but if you want to see some promising knockout artists, check this one out. Gamboa (130 lbs./super featherweight) is perhaps the biggest prospect of the three.

May 24: Versus
Ricky Hatton vs. Juan Lazcano: 8
Paul Malignaggi vs. Lovemore N’dou: 1
–Yes, Versus is televising a Ricky Hatton fight. It will actually be broadcast live from Manchester, where Hatton will be packing over 50,000 fans into Manchester Stadium. His fight vs. Lazcano should be exciting, especially considering the atmosphere, but the co-feature between Malignaggi and N’dou will be a bona fide snooze-fest.

May 31: HBO Pay-Per-View
Shane Mosley vs. Zab Judah: 9
Jorge Barrios vs. Rocky Juarez: 6
Jeff Lacy vs. TBA: ?
Abner Mares vs. TBA: ?
–This is one of those cards that belongs on regular HBO, but alas, it will be on PPV. Mosley and Judah both have exciting styles–they love to hit and they get hit–so expect that one to be very fascinating. Both are very talented, quick and hard punchers. Barrios-Juarez is nothing special, but it should be a decent scrap, as Barrios loves to throw even if Juarez doesn’t. Lacy and Mares have exciting styles, but they don’t have opponents yet–so they’ll probably end up fighting a couple of bums.

I’ll post regularly when more exciting fights are draw near, particularly the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito fight tentatively scheduled for July 26, and that fight is the only one in the foreseeable future that would earn a 10 on the excitability scale.

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