My Farewell to Oscar De La Hoya

oscar de la hoya29.06.07 - By Jaime Castro-Núñez: When I was a child my parents used to spend much time talking about boxing. Kid Pambelé, Sonny Liston, Alexis Argüello, Jack Dempsey, Nicolino Locche, Héctor “Macho” Camacho, and Muhammad Ali were regular guests in our conversations. Whenever I had a question, I just had to ask.

“Mom, can you tell me who defeated Pambelé?”

“Aaron Pryor."

“Dad, what does phantom punch mean?”

I never saw any of them fighting, but thanks to my parents’ conversations I knew that Roberto Durán had heavy hands and that Locche had toyed with Pambelé the first time they met.

Toward the end of the 1980´s, my passion for the sport of the pug noses skyrocketed due to the spectacular skills of two boxers.

Those two fighters were, basically, superb athletes on top of their careers who fought for glory, honor, and money. Throwing punches and training from sunset to sunset, they showed to the world that boxing is for the “cojonudos,” to express it with the very words of Edison Miranda after defeating Allan Green.

On the one hand, we had Mike Tyson, the fast, merciless pugil from Brooklyn who was inflicting the most beautiful –if I can use such adjective- knockouts in the recent history of the sport. Feared by his opponents and either loved or hated by fans, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world had boxing commentators in such awe that some of them had the guts to say that “the guy that will defeat Tyson hasn’t born yet.” On the other hand, we had Julio César Chávez, the skilled pegador from Culiacán, well-known for those two hands that contained chloroform. Agile and hard-hitting, by 1987, Julio César Chávez was the reigning, undefeated, and feared WBA Lightweight champion of the world.

During the reigning times of Tyson and Chávez, virtually every person wondered who would be their executioners. On February 11, 1990, the world witnessed the clamorous fall of “Iron” Mike, the “baddest man on the planet,” at the hands of James Douglas. The most shocking upset in the history of modern boxing had just occurred. Tyson would never ever be the same boxer. Six years later, on June 7, 1996, Óscar de la Hoya inflicted a TKO to Julio César Chávez. The glorious days of the lion of Culiacán were over.

As for us fans, we had to learn how to live without Tyson and Chávez. On the canvas, hopeless and humiliated by Lenox Lewis, it was hard to accept that Tyson was not a punching machine anymore. By the same bill, it was difficult to believe that Chávez´s hands no longer had chloroform but some kind of alcohol. They were history…they had been great! The new blood of the sport was rising and soon we recognized Félix “Tito” Trinidad, Shane Mosley, Óscar de la Hoya, and many more.

By the 1990´s, Óscar de la Hoya was the new boxing star, the idol, the loved kid from East LA that eventually took Chavez’s seat…and crown. Charismatic and passionate about his career, "The Golden Boy," 34, has brought to boxing not only skills and power, but also money and business. From 1994, when he captured the WBO Lightweight belt, to May 2007, when he controversially lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr, The Golden Boy won over, and lost to, the best fighters in boxing. For some fifteen years, we have celebrated Oscar’s victories and saddened after his losses.

I am a big admirer of De la Hoya, and to me, he is still the best. Personally, I would love to see The Golden Boy fighting as long as he can do so, but I understand that he is aging, (the new blood is coming) and that some day he will not fight anymore. I really hope he does not fight anymore, nor for that matter, I don't understand Tito’s comeback. For what? I do not know if De la Hoya will fight again –I hope not- but this is my farewell to one of the greatest boxers ever. Maybe it is too soon to analyze Óscar’s legacy, but definitely not too soon to say adiós. I feel fortunate to have lived in the times of Óscar de la Hoya, to see his lost against Mosley and his victory over Mayorga.

I am sure that my kid will be a boxing fan, and I am learning as much as I can about the boxers that live in my times: Pacquiao, Klitschko, Morales, Hatton, Calzaghe, Miranda, and De la Hoya, of course! So when my boy asks, “dad, who destroyed Tito Trinidad?” I will say “Bernard Hopkins,” and when he asks about Oscar’s last fight, I hope I can say that it took place in Las Vegas on a Cinco de Mayo, when he fought Floyd Mayweather jr.

Article posted on 30.06.2007

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