Boxing


Thank You, Oscar De La Hoya

oscar de la hoya03.04.07 - By David J. Kozlowski: Boxing has been relegated to the world of “fringe sports,” joining such pastimes as soccer, lacrosse, and anything with “extreme” in the title. In days past, that wasn’t the case. Boxing has a glorious history from Joe Louis to Rocky Marciano to Muhammad Ali. Today, for good or bad, Rocky Balboa may be the country’s favorite fighter, and the sport may be breathing its last breaths. Amidst this slow fade, the positive visibility of sweet science has continued in part because of one man—the “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya.

“Sugar” Ray Leonard owned the boxing world in the early 80’s. As his star began to fade, the public was awed by a seemingly unbeatable “Iron” Mike Tyson. One loss to James “Buster” Douglas in 1990 and one prison sentence later, he was out of the spotlight—Tyson didn’t fight from 1991 and 1995. Lucky for boxing, a 19-year-old from East L.A. captured Olympic gold in Barcelona (1990) and fought his first pro fight on November 23, 1992 (a first round knock-out of Lamar Williams).

Since rising in the ranks, the Golden Boy has been the most consistent fighter of his generation. Never ducking an opponent, De La Hoya fought pugilists who were faster, stronger, bigger, younger, or more experienced. He had relatively few “tune-ups”—fights against lightly regarded boxing opponents. He has fought the crème-de-la-crème in half-a-dozen weight classes. A list of his opponents reads like a who’s who: Ricardo Mayorga, Bernard Hopkins, “Sugar” Shane Mosley, Fernando Vargas, Arturo Gatti, Felix “Tito” Trinidad, Oba Carr, Ike Quartey, Julio Cesar Chavez, Hector “Macho” Camacho, Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, and Jesse James Leija. Okay, some of the wins were controversial, but Oscar, thanks for all the excitement.

On May 5, 2007, De La Hoya faces perhaps the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet—“Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Mayweather is younger, faster, and many say, more physically gifted than Oscar. However, the undefeated Mayweather has failed to capture the public attention the way Oscar has. While the always smiling De La Hoya charms fans and media, Mayweather comes off as an arrogant, bitter man.

With a lucrative international singing career, millions in the bank, and a growing boxing promotional company, this is likely the last fight of De La Hoya’s career. Win or lose, the mantle will not be passed to the pompous Mayweather. On an evening in May, 2007, under the lights of the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, a boxing legend will leave deliver his last punch, and the sweet science will take a giant leap in its march toward obscurity.

Article posted on 04.04.2007



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