Boxing


Call 'Em Out Friday: Oscar De La Hoya....Still A Goldenboy, Or Simply An Ordinary Man Searching For More Gold?

By Vivek Wallace: In this weeks "Call 'Em Out Friday" segment, we summon one of the sports most iconic figures centerstage to dissect him from both angles in an effort to understand whether his current agenda is a fact or fiction, fraud or true mission. For years his ring status and school boyish good looks have made him the toast of the town, but despite a career that has seen him take on all comers, his twilight fights have been seen in the eyes of most as nothing more than a great exit strategy aimed at money bags in the sports hottest division.. No matter what the case, it's hard to take away from what he's done in the sport, but that doesn't remove the fact that an open debate among many fans remains. As always, we take a peak both perspectives, and in the end, let the readers decide.

Pro-De la Hoya Argument: In the post Mike Tyson era, facing a constant push from the MMA/UFC circuit, where would boxing be without this guy? All of the epic fights from his showdown with Julio Ceasar Chavez, to his questionable victory over Pernell "Sweet P" Whitaker, to the loss to Felix Trinidad, and beyond, there have been few less-than-exhilarating ring moments for Mr. De la Hoya. Rarely hurt, barely knocked down, rarely out-performed, there has never been a time where even his skeptics could question his abilities in the ring with proper cause. And if the saying "image is golden" is true, there's no coincidence that he's often referred to as the sports 'Golden boy' because the sport has never, and probably will never, find a more marketable, made-for-the-camera personality than Oscar. Many moons ago fighters were believed to be street thugs with better than average pugilistic skills, but De la Hoya has also managed to prove to the masses that those who have the hunger for more can also display entrepreueurial genius as well, as fight fans have watched him slowly craft the amazing "Golden Boy Promotions" organization. The way that Oscar and his hand picked cabinet have built this organization from ground up is nothing less than commendable and if the truth were to be known, it currently serves as a blueprint for success for all like-companies in the future to follow. All and all, Oscar De la Hoya has been a great ambassador for the sport, and his efforts are truly unparalleled. Father, son, friend, simply the kind of man that few could ever find qualms with. Simply the consummate professional that we've all heard of but rarely been in the presence of. One of the most gutsiest performers of our era, and nothing short of a living legend. But as we've come to learn, there's always two sides to every story, and now that we've seen the positive, we take a glimpse at the not-so-positive........

Anti Dela Hoya Argument: When translated, Oscar De la Hoya's last name means "of the pit", or "of the grave". Let some tell it, that "pit" is nothing other than a hidden reserve created for the sole purpose of stashing away cash earned today off of the efforts of yesterday. As great as Oscar De la Hoya has been, the one thing that plagues him continuously in 'around-the-cooler' conversations among fight fans would be his reputation as a fighter who's driven at all cost to chase the proverbial money bags in the sport, despite being seen as a once formidable, current forgettable. Ever since his loss to Felix Trinidad in 1999, De la Hoya has not fought more than twice in any given year, and in the last 4 years, has only fought four times, entering the ring when the 'economics' reach 8 figures or more only. Some might ask why is making money considered to be an issue?, and the immediate response is that it isn't; that is until it comes at the expense of younger fighters who are currently in the midst of attaining dominance in the sport. Floyd Mayweather Jr. has recently been criticized for these same antics, but he can be considered the lesser of the two evils because he does hold the linear strap in the division. De la Hoya on the other hand has contributed to the log-jam in the welterweight division, requesting a second crack at the 'Money' Mayweather sweepstakes rather than allowing a legitimate welterweight to do so, who could earn the divisional prize in the process. The ever visible politics in the sport is often on high display when it comes to Oscar De la Hoya, and this was never more present than recently when De la Hoya held a conference call with the media in a promotional effort for his upcoming fight with Steve Forbes scheduled for May 3. The day prior, Leonard Ellerbe (manager of Floyd Mayweather Jr.) publically stated in so many words that his fighter would not consider fighting Cotto until Cotto reaches that certain plateau which would allow the proposed fight to reach mega-million payday status. De la Hoya's indirect response to the situation was to say that HE instead would take a career ending fight in December with the rising Puerto Rican star. This is a very calculated yet still interesting move because Oscar De la Hoya hasn't been a true welterweight in years and it remains to be seen if he can slim down to that form again. Great business move, but aficionado's of the sport would quickly question why there isn't any precedence given to the possibility of the two prime fighters (Mayweather/Cotto) making a mega fight to decide a true divisional champ? This kind of action is what has many fight fans looking to soon remove Oscar from the equation one way or the other. As long as he remains, the emphasis is more on taking mega fights for those who he hand picks, rather than the possibility of narrowing down a true divisional elitist.

Final Analysis: In the end, from a personal standpoint, Oscar De la Hoya has earned the right to make as much money as the sport allows as a result of giving his life to the sport. Much like the case in the Floyd Mayweather Jr. 'Call-Out' session last week, more pressure should be put on the organizations that allow mega money fights to take precedence above true contenders narrowing down the competition. If a champion is forced to defend against the biggest named other champ or mandatory contender in his weight division at least twice within a calendar year this would all be a non-issue. But they don't. And the reason they don't is because when Oscar - or whomever - makes a big payday, so do they, and when it all narrows down, this is all as much about entertainment as it is about competition. For those involved in providing the entertainment and competition, it's a sweet deal. For those of us on the outside looking in, it only gets sweet when the right deal is struck. So as we wrap up this weeks Call-Out session, we've been introduced to both sides of the spectrum. Now that we've called Oscar out, do we really have something to say?, or are skeptics simply talking to add to the ever visible 'buzz' in the sport? With a great deal of the facts on the table, it's now your turn to decide......

(Got Questions of Feedback?: Write ESB's Vivek Wallace at vivexemail@yahoo.com or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)

Article posted on 26.04.2008



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