Sugar 'N Spice: Heavy Hopes For Middleweights When Bernard Hopkins Meets Oscar De La Hoya

13.09.04 - By Bert Randolph Sugar,Sr. Boxing Analyst at-large for Many’s the generic sports fan who will tell you, “Sure, I’m a boxing fan…I watch the heavyweights, especially heavyweight championship fights.” That’s akin to someone telling you they’re a horse racing fan ‘cause they watch the Kentucky Derby. These people can be considered boxing fans only in the same way raisins can be considered fruits--technically and only in a manner of speaking.

The real boxing fan knows there is more, much more, than the heavyweights. Especially today when the division is on the cusp of being called off on account of lack of talent. Take last weekend for example, PLEASE! When WBO heavyweight champ Lamon Brewster successfully defended his portion of the title against his former sparring partner who was introduced as “the 15th-ranked heavyweight contender.” Who’s Number 14, the loser on the reality show, “The Next Great Champ?”

But if the name Lamon Brewster is unfamiliar to you (as are, undoubtedly, the other three Alphabet Soup champs), the rest of the division is so unknown that the few who could be named can be entered on a postcard with more than enough room left over for an address and an oversized postage stamp. Hell, they’re not even household names in their own households!

And so, just as boxing fans back in the ‘80s turned their attention to the middle-area weight divisions, when heavyweight champ Larry Holmes was defending his title against the likes of Alfredo Evangelista and Ossie Ocasio, and watched Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Wilfredo Benitez, et cetera, etc., ditto, so, too, the real boxing fans today now turn their attention to the middle-area weight divisions. And what to their wandering eyes should they find but the Fight of the Year: Bernard Hopkins versus Oscar De La Hoya next Saturday night for the undisputed world middleweight championship.

Here, I’ll let you in on a secret: if you but follow the breadcrumbs back through the fogbanks of boxing history you will find the middleweight division always has been boxing’s “glamour” division, the one that has given boxing fans their greatest fights and greatest fighters.

Just look at the greats who have campaigned as middleweights and you’ll find the division is jammed to the gunwales with the names of those enshrined in the Boxing Hall of Fame far outnumbering those who fought as heavyweights--including such all-time all-timers as Stanley Ketchel, Harry Greb, Mickey Walker, Tony Zale, Rocky Graziano, Marcel Cerdan, Sugar Ray Robinson, Gene Fullmer, Carmen Basilio, Dick Tiger, Emile Griffith, Carlos Monzon, Hagler, Leonard and current middleweight champ Hopkins.

Those with cauliflower tongues will tell you De La Hoya’s attempt to climb yet another mountain, this one in the form of Hopkins, is, at best, foolhardy. And fall back on such conventional wisdom as “a good big man will always beat a good little man” and other such palaver. But then, again, conventional wisdom always has been an underdog in Las Vegas. And De La Hoya can take heart that others with territorial ambitions of moving upstairs from the welterweight division to challenge for the middleweight title have succeeded. Those “others” include luminaries such as Robinson, Basilio, Griffith and Roberto Duran.

Hopkins, the party of the second part, is an ageless wonder who seems to be suffering from a severe case of Indian summer and is proving the improbability of the calendar by holding onto the middleweight crown so long he almost owns homesteading rights to the title. Champion for more than a decade, Hopkins has proven to be a human litter bearer, successfully defending his title a record 18 times. And yet, until his resounding win over Felix Trinidad, he wasn’t accorded the respect his skills demanded. Still, who knows when the sand will begin to flow to the bottom of this 39-year-old’s hourglass?

De La Hoya thinks he knows. And that constitutes a majority of one who believes he can do to Hopkins what Leonard did to Hagler.

Whatever, this is a clash for real fight fans, a fistic delicacy not to be missed this Saturday night. And it well may turn some of those peripheral fans, who only watch heavyweight title bouts, into real fight fans.

Bert Randolph Sugar, CMXsports’ Sr. Analyst At-Large, called “ The Guru of Boxing,” has a new book Bert Sugar On Boxing,” (or “The Best of Bert Sugar, The Worst of Bert Sugar, What the Hell’s the Difference?”), published by The Lyon Press and currently available at Border’s, Barnes & Noble and

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BERT RANDOLPH SUGAR'S latest weekly column --"Sugar 'N Spice" -- can be read EXCLUSIVELY at Sugar, the world-famous boxing historian and sports bon vivant, is the Senior Boxing Analyst at-large for CMXsports, where he is also part of the new Latin boxing broadcast series, "CMX Boxeo de Campeones," which made its debut, May 28. Presented by CMXsports and promoted by Guilty Boxing, "CMX Boxeo de Campeones" allows boxing fans from around the world to catch all the action via a live internet stream, and access the replay, at for a monthly subscription fee of just $4.95. The series airs Friday nights, beginning at 11 P.M. ET / 8 P.M. PT. Subscribers can also access archived fight footage and get behind-the-scenes interviews, previews and articles. The broadcasts are available in English and Spanish. This week's show will emanate from The Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

The Runyonesque Sugar, a former editor of The Ring, and Boxing Illustrated magazines and the author of over 50 sports books, lends his world-renowned knowledge and razor-sharp wit to his weekly column which will be dedicated to the hot topics facing boxing today, as well as contrasting and comparing today's boxing scene to the historic eras of the past. This week, Bert plants his tongue firmly in cheek with his look on "HEAVY HOPES FOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS WHEN HOPKINS MEETS DE LA HOYA." (Scroll down for free preview in text version. It can be used by all media with proper credit to

CMXsports and Guilty Boxing are scheduled to produce 48 two-hour shows a year over a three-year period with two cards each month emanating from Las Vegas --The Orleans Hotel & Casino and the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino. The remaining two shows per month will be broadcast from different locations, including, southern California and Mexico.

“CMX Boxeo de Campeones” showcases the very best in action-packed Latin fights, a staple of Guilty Boxing shows over the past decade, as well as an extensive amount of high-quality features on boxing. CMXsports complements the broadcast with the Internet’s capability to provide fans around-the-clock, behind-the-scenes information about the fighters before and after the show, and the state-of-the-art CMXlivecam, allowing fans unprecedented access to the fighters on a real-time basis. In short, CMXsports is leveraging the latest in Internet streaming and interactive technology to produce an unprecedented experience for the viewer.

CMXsports is one of the rapidly growing members of the CMX family of sports and entertainment companies founded by A. Demetrius (Tony) Brown. Brown, a former professional basketball player, established a successful metal trading company that later evolved into CMXchange, a successful Internet-based trading exchange. Over the past two years, Brown has purchased or created a number of companies focused at a range of sports and entertainment products and services.

Article posted on 13.09.2004

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