De La Hoya: The Golden era comes to a close

Oscar De La HoyaBy Madra Uladh - Oscar Delahoya burst onto the boxing scene in 1992, winning Gold at the Barcelona Olympics. Later that fall, sixteen years and two weeks ago tonight, he turned professional and began a spectacular climb to the pinnacle of the sport.

He faced~more great fighters in more weight divisions than any boxer of the last quarter-century, and captured titles at six weight divisions from 130 lbs to 160lbs, reaching the coveted number one pound-for-pound spot.

Oscar became the highest earning non-heavyweight boxer in history, and one of the two highest paid in any weight division.

Along the way, he provided many great performances in the ring. He had some very decisive victories and some that were closer. These included a couple of bouts where he lost, but probably should have got the decision, and a couple where he was the beneficiary of questionable decisions in the other direction.

Against his many wins, he lost two very controversial decisions, and two split decisions. He was also stopped once, by the much bigger Bernard Hopkins. But in all his fights, he was never dominated.

Till tonight.

Someone said of Sonny Liston that sometimes a man grows old in the course of an evening. I believe this happened to Oscar this evening.

From the opening Bell, his opponent, the number one ranked pound-for-pound Manny Pacquiao was faster, more aggressive and commanded the pace and direction of the action. Oscar just couldn't figure him out. By the end of three rounds, it was evident that Oscar was reduced to having a puncher's chance, and by the end of seven, it was evident that he wasn't going to go the distance.

I'm not sure if I was more surprised by how good Manny looked or how poorly Oscar performed. Manny was at the peak of his game. Had a plan, and he executed it to perfection.

Oscar may have had a game plan too, but when it proved ineffective, he did not appear to have a plan B. He was, surprisingly, the smaller man going in, and, it appeared, the weaker man after the third round. Perhaps he was weaker from the beginning, but Manny needed three rounds to be certain.

I had, in agreement with two of the judges, a score of 80-71at the time of stoppage, eight rounds to nothing, with one 10-8 round. The other judge inexplicably found one round to give to Oscar, scoring it 79-72. At the end of round eight, Oscar's corner advised him that they were going to end matters at the end of round nine if he didn't start throwing back. Then one of his seconds asked about stopping it right there. Oscar didn't offer any resistance, and it was over.

Most of the pundits predicted a mismatch, and they were right. They were just wrong on who was mismatched. This is an upset of almost epic proportions and will generate commentary and post mortem analysis for days and months, even years to come.

For tonight, I would like to pay tribute to a great boxer who provided much entertainment, excitement and interest for our sport, and whose career has now come to its close.

And I would like to congratulate Manny Pacquiao on his historic and monumental achievement. Although he did not capture a title tonight, he accomplished what many believed was beyond reach, and he can now be compared to the great multi-division champion, Henry Armstrong.

Congratulations on a great victory!

Article posted on 07.12.2008

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