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Oscar: End of an Era

Posted on 12/07/2008

Dear fellow boxing fans and pundits,

My Thoughts on the De La Hoya fight

Tom Donelson

End of an Era

Oscar De La Hoya days as fighter are over but his days as a boxing promoter will continue full speed ahead. Last night, the Golden Boy showed that once again, father time waits for no one and there is no room for a part time boxer, even at the elite levels. Manny Pacquiao showed last night that he is one of this generation great fighters and will go down as one of the best pound for pound fighters in history; deserving to be mentioned in the same breath as other great pound for pound fighters just as Henry Armstrong.

From the Opening bell it became obvious that this would be a special night but not for the Golden Boy. After the first round, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said, “The victory was no surprise. In the first round, I knew that we had him. He had no legs, he was hesitant; he was shot.” Throughout the bout, Oscar De La Hoya looked like a fighter who never seemed to pull the trigger on punches and as ESPN Dan Rafel observed, Pacquiao was ripping off “four and five punch combinations and De La Hoya was able to muster a shot at at time.” In the opening round, a big Pacquiao shot landed off De La Hoya’s head and just like that, he was away before De La Hoya could counter. At the end of the second round, a welt developed under De La Hoya’s eyes and it become obvious that boxing fans were witnessing history, though not the history they expected.

Between the third and fourth round, Roach told his charge, “Oscar’s very slow,” and the opening of the fourth round saw two straight lefts nailing De La Hoya’s flush and while De La Hoya countered with a right, it did little to discourge the smaller fighter. From this point the results were pre ordained and after the Pac-man connected on 45 power shots in the seventh round, the deal was sealed. In between rounds, De La Hoya corner warned their fighter that if he didn’t show any evidence that he could turn it around; they would stop it and after the eighth, they did.

De La Hoya have been one of boxing better ambassador, a superstar who provided fans with super events. De La Hoya problem is that he never seemed to reach the Mount Olympus of boxing heroes. He always seemed just one punch away from his greatest victories but the punch never seem to come. As he became a star in the ring, he translated that into stardom outside of the ring and often used his pull to promote big events. From 130 pounds to 160 pounds, he fought some fo the best and while some declared him the fighter who couldn’t win the big one, an unfair charge since he won a few big fights. With the exception of Pacquiao and Hopkins, he was competitive with the best and he should have won the Trinidad and second Mosely but alas, it could easily be argued that he should have lost to Felix Sturm. What many of these fights had in common was that they were close affairs and as former heavyweight champion and HBO analyst George Foreman observed after the Trinidad fight, “He allowed it to go to the scorecard.” Often, he failed to finish off opponents at crucial times and left his fate and legacy in the hands of judges. Sometimes he prevailed like in his Middleweight clash with Strum and sometimes he did not like in his second bout with Mosley.

Shed no tears for De La Hoya for he had a great career and will leave as one of boxing’s richest fighters. After the fight, he talked like a man who knew the end was near as he noted, “It’s a lot different story when you’re training than when you are actually in the ring. I just felt flat,like I didn’t have it.” De La Hoya just described a fighter long past his prime. De La Hoya have always been a big event performer but after last night, the curtain down on the performer.

De La Hoya have prepared himself for this moment with his Golden Boy promotions and other business adventures outside the ring. Like Roy Jones, he was a businessman who fought and for many years, boxing was an indulgences not a career. De La Hoya translated his star power outside the ring and often convinced many of his past conquerors to join him in his Golden Boy Promotion and don’t be surprised if Pacquiao joins the firm.

As for Pacquiao, he is on the verge of being one of boxing big attraction and in the audience was Ricky Hatton, a possible future opponent. While many like ESPN Teddy Atlas and leading boxing pundit Cliff Rold, who forsee a possible Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, look for a Hatton-Pacquiao. Both fighters are at their peak and more importantly, both men are great draw. This would be a competitive fight between two fighters with appeal that stretches from the outer riches of the Pacific to across the Atlantic. This fight might even outdraw a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight and it is a fight that can easily be made sooner as oppose to later.

Oscar De La Hoya will leave a legacy of being one of boxing biggest attraction but like all attraction, the novelty is worn off and the act has faded. De La Hoya had the ability like Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson to make any fight into a mega event. Like these men, he didn’t just fight fights, he fougt in events. Now De La Hoya will have to satisfy his competitive juices in the corporate board room and now it is Pac-Man turn to be boxing next big thing.

This is a fighter who began his career as a 106 pounder but Pacquiao move into the welterweight gave the appearance of a fighter who fought this weight his entire life. Against De La Hoya, Pacquiao cemented his legacy. Like Lennox Lewis after the British fighter destroyed Mike Tyson, Pacquiao left no doubt of his historical legacy. This fight along with his many wars against the likes of Morales and Barrea showed a great fighter who could fight in almost any weight division from Welterweight no down.

Last Saturday night, one legend saw his career end and the birth of another legend. De La Hoya will leave as a fighter who gave fans many of thrills but Pacquiao showed himself to be a special fighter that history will record as one of its greatest.

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