De La Hoya vs. Hopkins: Either way, a Fairytale Waiting to Unfold

17.09.04 – By Vincent van der Steen: Tomorrow the stage will be set for one of the most anticipated matches this decade, as ‘the Golden Boy’ Oscar de la Hoya – 37-3 (29) – will challenge Bernard ‘the Executioner’ Hopkins – 44-2-1 (31) – for the undisputed middleweight championship of the world at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Nevada. This fight will be a fight of contrasts. ‘The Golden Boy’ championed six divisions, ‘the Executioner’ terrorised one. One a promotional dream, the other a nightmare. Hopkins will be making his record-setting nineteenth defence of his middleweight title.

The Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs:

The contrasts are numerous, and their journey towards the top of their respective food chains are as different as day and night. De la Hoya’s career brought him an Olympic gold medal, and lot of fame and fortune. His list of adversaries is second to none – in the modern era – fighting the likes of Pernell ‘Sweat Pea’ Whitaker, JC Superstar, Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad en ‘Ferocious’ Fernando Vargas. In the process he earned portions of the title from super featherweight to middleweight. Whether as a singer, promoter or a boxer, De la Hoya is the true definition of a goose that lays golden eggs.

Hopkins however, is another story all together. Though backed by an impressive amateur career – 94-4 – Hopkins had a brief spell behind bars after he was convicted of armed robbery. He even lost his first fight as a professional, and his first shot at the title when he was beaten by another great fighter in Roy Jones Jr. – 49-2 (38). While ‘the Golden Boy’s’ was safely taken care of by one of boxing’s giants, Hopkins had to operate on the sidelines and the picket line. Like Jack of the Beanstalk he had to trade the only cow he could milk (the IBF title) to Don King, to get the three beans (WBC, IBF, WBA) that would eventually lead to that big castle in the sky and the goose he has so long coveted.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf:

The scenario that is about to unfold tomorrow night, is reminiscent of the tale of little red riding hood and the big bad wolf. Mayweather Sr. will summon his stride to stray away from the dangerous woods – the ropes, and not to dawdle along the way. If distracted there is a chance that De la Hoya will not see nor feel Hopkins’ shadow hanging over him like the vaunted sword of Damocles. The goal here would be for De la Hoya to stick to Mayweather’s cautions, and to stay on the straight and narrow path. This would be the path to a famous victory for Oscar de la Hoya.

If the Golden Boy dawdles, the plot will thicken once he reaches Grandfather’s place – the late rounds. The Golden Boy will wonder ‘But grandfather, what big eyes you have?’. ‘The better to see you with, my son’, the wolf will reply. ‘But grandfather, what big arms you have?’ ‘The better I can hug you with, my son’, the wolf replies. ‘But grandfather, what big fists you have!’, ‘the better I can beat you up my dear’, the wolf replies. In this scenario the wolf will be successful in lulling his prey in entering belly of the old and hungry beast.

Fairytales and Boxing:

But like all great fairytales, and boxing match ups alike, luck, interests or manipulation also comes into play. If ‘the Golden Boy’ manages to stay out of the wolf’s claws, he might actually break to see the final bell. In that case, like so many times this past year in boxing, help might be on the way to ensure a fairytale’s end. In that case, the big bad wolf will lose. Either way, this will be a memorable match up. Two fighters with a different path to the same hall of fame. Two fighters with enough experience and skill to capture the imagination of a new generation of fighters and fans. Two men, who regardless of the outcome, view this as more than a fight. History is in the making, and I for one cannot wait to see the outcome.

Article posted on 17.09.2004

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