Well it’s the end of an era for another boxer. Oscar De La Hoya was dismantled in Las Vegas on Saturday night by the rising Filipino star Manny Pacquiao. Though I have not seen the fight yet, everything I hear and read suggest that he was utterly dominated to the point of refusing to leave his corner for the 8th round. This is now what we are used to seeing from Oscar. For most of his storied career he has been the ring master. Now it’s time to hang up the gloves and continue furthering his business ventures.
I can’t let Oscar go out the door however without giving it up to a great champion. Oscar was the best thing in boxing overall since the Muhammad Ali/Sugar Ray Leonard era in my opinion. Since the Golden Boy won Gold in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, he has fought the best of the best and has never ducked anyone. I can remember some suspect decisions that I thought he was the beneficiary of. Pernell Whitaker and Ike Quartey come to mind immediately. Still De La Hoya defeated 17 world champions and won 10 titles in 6 different weight classes. He also generated more money than any boxer in the history of the sport. Because of his good looks, charming personality and million dollar smile, Oscar De La Hoya fights generated more women Pay Per View (PPV) subscribers than men. That kind of exposure was good for the sport which has suffered from too much greed by promoters and too little exposure to great fights without fans having to shell out big bucks for PPV.
Speaking of promoters, Oscar started his own, Golden Boy Promotions, Inc. for the specific purpose of giving boxers more options and independence from the suspect promoters that have helped down the sport. Oscar owns the major shares of the business, partnering with other boxers who were also his rivals such as Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley. Though Mosley and Hopkins are in the twilight of their respective careers, putting the business of boxing into the hands of boxers who put in the training and hard work to provide the matches is something hardly ever seen in the sport. Many of their fights are on cable TV, where someone with HBO or Showtime can see them without paying extra.
I grew up loving the sport of boxing. One of the greatest moments of my life was meeting Muhammad Ali. He and Ray Leonard were a couple of my hero’s as a kid. I remember when an up and coming Mike Tyson would fight on ABC’s Wide World of Sports on Saturday afternoons. There are so many great boxers I can’t name them all on this post. The sport has a lot of work to do if it wants to maintain an edge in this competetive market while guys like me get older and young people flock to Mixed Martial Arts, (MMA) With no commissioner in the sport to regulate things and help to establish health plans etc., it’s guys like Oscar De La Hoya that give the sport a hope for the future.
I for one appreciate that.