Boxing

Oscar vs Manny - Beyond the Obvious, What's in it for Oscar?

Oscar De La Hoya03.12.08 - By Paul Strauss: Many people say Oscar has led a fairy tale life. He is the Golden Boy. He is extremely handsome, with a winning smile. He is articulate and charismatic, and has been successful in every area of life. He's never been seriously hurt even though he has spent years participating in one of the most violent of sports.

He has a gold medal and oodles of title belts. He has more money and influence than just about anyone in the entertainment industry (Tiger and Oprah not withstanding). To use a cliche, it's not beyond the realm of possibility to believe he might some day become the world's first sports billionaire. He has a beautiful wife and family. He is universally admired and by some even adored. What more does he want? What more can the man do? Why is having more than enough still not enough?

Although Manny hasn't reached the level of the Golden Boy, he too is charismatic with adoring fans. He is a hero to the Filipino people. He is a successful musician, and has a beautiful wife and family and lot's of money as well; although, his fans would say Oscar's path to glory was much easier, and the Golden Boy has been at those lofty heights much longer than Manny.

Regardless, it's obvious that all of Oscar's riches and blessings are not enough. He wants more, but more of what? Oscar says he wants to knockout the best P4P fighter in the world, because he feels that feat will somehow cement his legacy, and that is what is driving him. Boxing writers cannot read minds, but many pretend to do so, explaining that Oscar's real desire is to end his career with what he hopes will be a huge positive.......i.e. .First (he wants to) beat The Pac Man, and then maybe finalize things with a win over another hugely popular fighter named The Hitman. Then, they surmise, Oscar would feel he has bragging rights, and surely would erase memory of the defeats he suffered at the hands of Hopkins and Mayweather, Jr.

Manny's situation is much less complex. He wants to be the best by fighting the best for the most money. Trainer Freddie Roach and promoter Bob Arum have convinced him he can beat Oscar regardless of the huge size disparity. Frankly, it didn't take much convincing. Manny fully understands this is the most important fight of his life, and he doesn't need to be pumped up or motivated.

Odds makers, to no one's surprise, have Oscar installed as a heavy favorite.
History has proven, in most instances, they know what they're talking about, but in this case, do they? Are they overlooking anything? Doubtful, you say.

Freddie Roach believes otherwise. He should know, as he trained Oscar in his losing effort against Floyd Mayweather, Jr.. Oscar uses that fact to point out Freddie's plan for the fight failed. The Choir Boy takes umbrage with that statement, and argues Oscar was winning the fight, but for some reason he abandoned the plan, and according to Freddie that is why Oscar lost the decision. Further, Freddie claims to know why Oscar abandoned the plan, and that that undisclosed reason will be a factor in allowing Manny to come away with the victory.

Further, "La Cucaracha" claims to most recently discovered an additional weakness in Oscar's style. Apparently no one else has made the same discovery. Maybe Oscar has developed an allergy to leather? As a result of this alleged discovery, Freddie cancelled the scheduled send-off celebration to capitalize on his new discovery. Did anyone hear Max Schmeling's voice echoing in with, "I see something." What drama! What theatre! It's as though Freddie;s been consulting with some of those Hollywood script writers?

Freddie's revelation does bring to mind once again the question about Oscar's failure to use his jab in the second half of the fight against Pretty Boy. We all know when the Golden Boy was asked in the post-fight interview why he stopped using his jab. He openly said, "I don't know why! Could it be that Freddie really does know why? Is there a danger of Oscar having a repeat performance? Roach is predicting a knockout by the ninth. Oscar, on the other hand feels he will catch up to Manny by the fifth, and will administer his own big KO. The use of the phrase "catch up to Manny" implies Manny will be running. Do you believe that? It's doubtful. The Pac Man will be darting in and out, and moving side to side, but running? Nah!

It's also interesting to note that Oscar does his own lobbying. He exercises control over everything. He issues orders and makes demands, and if he is not happy, out you go. His brother is about the only current team member to have been around for the duration. But, much of Oscar's success is because of his ability to do decide what is best for him. He does permit team members to go before the cameras, but seems to limit what they have to say. Most of their comments are generalizations such: "He's strong. He's ready. He's totally focused. I've never seen him looking better." Angelo Dundee dispenses his bit of wisdom by adding, "Oscar's got an answer for anything he (Manny) will do." It's really Oscar, though, who gives the real spiel. He explains why his camp is at Big Bear. He paints the picture he wants viewers to have of him, explaining the importance of his Mexican roots, his family, and his love of challenges. Viewers of the 24/7 episodes follow the cameras around the spotless, unbelievably tidy gym at Big Bear. The place is so "Mr. Clean" and organized that you expect to be told that if you want to use the bathroom, you should go elsewhere. They probably don't even have a spit bucket!

Manny, on the other hand, is more of a straight line..........point A to point B. He doesn't talk much, but that is not because he has difficulty with the language. Rather, it's just not his way to be outspoken about himself or his fight plan. When asked about the war of words carried on in the media, he will just say that that is Freddie's thing. He openly practices his Roman Catholicism and unashamedly has a mandatory break in training for prayer. His training environment is almost the direct opposite of Oscar. He plies his trade at Freddie's gym, which to be polite, is a zoo. There are people all over the place. If a gym rat exercised a "snap back", he would probably kill someone in close proximity behind them. The chaos doesn't stop there either, it continues right into Manny's living quarters. Whereas Oscar has a team, Manny seems to have a village (He must have listened to Hiliary). Half the population of Kibawe must be crammed into the condo with him. There's even one stuffed into a closet. That is where Manny sometimes views videos of Oscar's past fights, and it's on a cock-a-mamy little TV, not some big LCD or Plasma HDTV. It makes no difference to the Pac Man. His face is glued to the tiny screen with eyes intensely taking in everything. He's crouched and perfectly still and quiet, kind of like a cat ready to pounce! There's no secret about what Manny wants.

Meanwhile back at the hacienda, Oscar is getting acupuncture treatments! Manny counters by handing out turkeys by the hundreds. Oscar checks his weight, and is certain the camera picks up that he is already on the money, which will allow him to eat turkey. Manny is concerned about his friends' excess weight, so he offers big money to those who can lose ten pounds in two weeks. Later, he offers money to those who failed in that effort. This time he challenges them to over-eat! It's all great fun for the village people, and profitable for them as well.

Freddie chimes in that Manny is so generous, that he's worried Manny will give away all that he has earned. Oscar is generous too, but in a more controlled and business like manner. He depends on advisors, accountants and lawyers.

Let's get back to the original question, though. Everyone is certainly able to state the obvious answer to the question of "What's in it for Oscar?" It includes: more : fame, fortune, glory, power, influence, adulation.....wine, (no more women) and song, etc. He's got more than enough of all of those things, right? So, there's got to be more to this, right? There must be something that might outweigh the obvious? In this case, he willingly and eagerly pushes the idea that he doesn't care about all his synthetic and corporeal assets. He claims it boils down to the basic, the very basic thing. He wants fans to believe that he full well knows he is risking a good portion of what he has earned (reputation) by taking this fight. But, he quickly adds that he hopes he will be able to exhibit the volatile and brutal elemental quality of his (Mexican Warrior) persona. It's of great importance to him, he tells his viewers. It's as though he wants his audience to view him as some kind of archaic artist, who hopes to gain loyalty, goodwill, and in some way spirituality by creating or capturing his true essence by using the ring canvas as a medium to beating up the generally accepted best P4P fighter in the world. He sells his audience on believing this is his biggest challenge. He wants the public to believe he is the best, and he's out to prove it. He admits that he and Manny are willing to share just about everything they have, but they aren't willing to share that designation. Fans, writers, and those in the (boxing) know aren't quite ready to let Oscar set the hook. They realize Oscar has carefully manipulated his career and who his opponent would be at any given time. This fight is no exception. Sure, he has made some misjudgments, but for the most part he has done a tremendous job in protecting himself and maximizing results. That appears to be his method of madness in this case as well.

He reasons that he will not be seriously criticized for not fighting Antonio Margarito or Paul Williams, because after all he is fighting the best P4P fighter in the world. He counters (or has others do it on his behalf) criticism about the weight and size disparity by making the opposition's argument for them by saying, "Size will not be a factor." After all, how can Manny be viewed as a legitimate threat if everyone is saying he is too small? Oscar is a wonder and he is once again proving his incredible abilities both inside and outside of the ring.

On December 6th, fans will be joyful recipients of the fallout of this scheme, and undoubtedly they are in store for one of the most exciting and thrilling nights of this boxing year. The surprise could be that it won't necessarily be because of Oscar's management skills, but maybe because of Manny's lack thereof. Manny will simply be concentrating on winning, not manipulating. He will be focused on attacking, and not concerned about his portfolio.

So, we know what's in it for Oscar. But, is his plan well thought out, and will it lead him to the destination he desires? We understand Manny's plan is much simpler........train hard, fight hard, and try to destroy your opponent, whether it's Oscar or some other unlucky guy in the ring with him. Don't bet against him. With his speed and heavy hands, he just might pull off the big upset. He probably doesn't even know or care that he is the underdog.

All that remains is for you to set the recorder, and make sure you have some popcorn and cold ones on hand. Then sit back and get ready to close out the boxing year with a Hollywood/Vegas type extravaganza! (Sorry, but the Klitschko and Rahman bout doesn't hold a potential candle to the drama involved with this one.)

Article posted on 03.12.2008



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