De La Hoya At 35 - Planning His Busiest Year In The Ring Since 1999!

oscar de la hoyaby James Slater: Oscar De La Hoya turns 35-years-of-age this coming Monday (Feb 4th). Yet despite having reached what can certainly be called a somewhat advanced age for a boxer who is not a heavyweight, Oscar has planned for this, his final year in boxing, his busiest 12 months since way back in 1999. That year was the last one that saw "The Golden Boy" box more than two times in a 12 month period. The question is, at the age of 35, is Oscar pushing his luck by taking three fights in 2008?

Okay, Oscar is smart. He knows his body, what it can and cannot do, and he says he wants to finish off his superb career with three more fights - the first, a May tune-up against Steve Forbes, the second, a September rematch with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, and finally, a "farewell" fight, against a still TBA, in December. That's some schedule for pretty much any top-level fighter, certainly for a 35-year-old who has been boxing as a pro since 1992.

De La Hoya, presumably, is in no danger of losing fight number one. No disrespect to the capable Forbes, but the former IBF super-featherweight champ and Contender star is simply too small for Oscar at the catch weight of 150 pounds the bout is set for. Still, De La Hoya deserves a tune-up. Fight two, however, is an entirely different story. Going up against the supremely gifted Floyd Mayweather in a rematch that, let's face it, not too many fans are exactly salivating over, Oscar is surely in store for nothing more, nothing less, than a second fairly close points defeat. After tasting his 6th career loss, as he almost certainly will in September, will Oscar even want to box again as soon as December? Will he want to push himself through another gruelling training camp? Yes, De La Hoya wants to go out a winner, but he must face a credible "safe" opponent in his farewell fight, otherwise, who will pay to tune in? Can a demoralised Oscar be expected to actually defeat a good fighter after losing for a second time to "Pretty Boy?"

Also, let's not forget, Oscar has met "safe" opposition before, and struggled. Who can forget his "win" over Felix Sturm? A farewell fight, should it occur in December, could very easily prove to be one fight too many for a De La Hoya who by then will be almost 36. Is Oscar biting off more than he can chew by planning three fights this year? The rigours of training aside, De La Hoya has never been in combat as often as three times in one year since he was at his very peak at age 26. Is "The Golden Boy" fooling himself, and us, by saying he'll box three guys this year? It's an ambitious and admirable plan of action for a fighter's final year in the sport, but how badly would De La Hoya's reputation be affected if he were to lose his final two fights?

Such a scenario is possible, should he fight a guy who is at least half decent in December. Another loss to Mayweather simply looks unavoidable. Two consecutive defeats at the end of his all-time great career will see an extremely disappointed Oscar De La Hoya departing his sport. Should the most popular fighter of the last ten or fifteen years risk it this way?
To this writer's way of thinking, a better route for Oscar to have taken in his last ever year in boxing would have been as follows; Oscar boxes his tune-up Vs Forbes in May, then fights Miguel Cotto, not Mayweather. Oscar would do no worse against Cotto than he would against Floyd, but he might actually have a shot at a win - we don't know. Worse case scenario, e.g. a points loss to Cotto ( a Cotto KO win would be a real shocker, also very unlikely), and what does Oscar really lose?

Wouldn't it have been better - for both him and the fans - to have boxed someone other than Mayweather for a second time? Should Oscar have beaten Cotto, there would have been no need for a farewell fight - a win over the Puerto Rican superstar would have been a sensational enough way in which to leave the sport. In other words, De La Hoya should've taken two fights this year, not three and he should not have signed for a rematch with Mayweather, where we all know what will happen anyway.

Oscar could have left boxing with an intensely exciting year in which he went out with a bang. Instead, he risks losing his last two fights; and in fights no-one in particular wants to see at that!

Article posted on 01.02.2008

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