Experts Claim Oscar's Done - Phooey!

Oscar De La HoyaBY Paul Strauss: Many experts, who by the way picked Oscar to beat Manny, are now saying he's all done physically. They claim he got old right in front of their eyes on Saturday night in the ring against the Pac Man As our friends across the pond would say, bollocks! My money was on The Pac Man, and I went out on a limb saying so, but that doesn't mean I now agree with them about Oscar. On the contrary, I once again think they're wrong. I'll even go so far as to say it's feasible that Oscar could beat Manny in a rematch. Same to you, mate!

Oscar is not chronologically, physically or ring old. He has never been beaten up badly, including Saturday night. Certainly, he lost every round, and was never able to mount any kind of sustained attack against the whirlwind called the Mexican Assassin.. But, that hardly means he should take up crocheting and get fitted for a rocking chair. Hell, Manny has been victim of more severe physical punishment in some of his victories than Oscar was in this one loss, and no one told Manny he was all done.

Oscar still has the ability to be competitive at a high level in a couple of weight classes. In retrospect, some experts are now saying he made mistakes or misjudgments concerning his preparation for the Pacquiao fight. That idea seems to contain an insinuation that Team Oscar, which included greats such as Nacho Beristain and Angelo Dundee, was somehow deficient. Poppy cock! Don't be so quick to criticize Oscar either, as we all make mistakes, and obviously the old advice is still true..... We should learn from them and move on.

Everyone knows Oscar is not a careless or reckless man. He makes decisions only after careful consideration and listening to people he feels are in the know. He formulates a game plan and then acts upon it. In this case, it's doubtful there was anything wrong with the game plan. You don't seriously believe, as some would have you do, that Nacho and Angelo gave Oscar poor advice? So, if there wasn't anything wrong with their part of the game plan, was there another area put forth by the Team in error? Again the answer is no, and no again.

Floyd Mayweather, Sr. has seized on Oscar's loss to give his best impression of the common venomous viper called the adder by "puffing" himself up. He is attempting to use the loss as evidence or support for his claim to be the world's greatest trainer, and that Oscar needed him Saturday night. He claims Oscar's so called Team, "Had nothing (good advice) for Oscar". Floyd, Sr, tries to support his position by saying that now that he is with Ricky Hatton, Hatton will dismantle Manny, should they meet. That of course is due to his recent training of Ricky in The Hitman's demolition of Paulie Malignaggi.

Does Floyd, Sr. really expect fans to believe him when he says Nacho Beristain doesn't know what is needed to beat Pacquiao? That makes no sense when you consider Nacho trained Juan Manuel Marquez for his two great fights with Manny. Those two fights are considered two of Manny's toughest, so much so that Marquez fans (and others) still believe Marquez deserved the decision in both.

Or, does the viper really believe that Angelo Dundee, trainer extraordinaire of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard (plus many more going all the way back to Carmen Basilio) doesn't know what is needed to beat Manny? Sounds far fetched, doesn't it? It is! Floyd, Sr. is just slithering around in hopes of making the match between Ricky and Manny.

So, if Floyd senior is not right either, then what hell went wrong? Why couldn't Oscar mount any kind of offense against the little Filipino terror? It's a safe bet that it wasn't because Oscar has deteriorated physically. He has always taken excellent care of himself, and can still display better reflexes and out work most fighters years younger than himself.

Could it be it simply boils down to what Freddie Roach said, "He (Oscar) can't pull the trigger anymore!"? That implies Oscar's nervous system is no longer functioning at the high level it once did. As Joe Louis said in his declining years in the ring, "I see the openings, but I just can't take advantage". In the Brown Bomber's case, he wasn't physically capable of doing so anymore. Is Oscar really at that stage? Again, I say that's" ullbay it shay" (sic)! If his reflexes weren't sharp, it would have been evident in camp, and don't say a fight is different, because a fighter doesn't look so much different in rugged sparring that a trainer couldn't see his reflexes had gone south with the mallards. He'd have to be hitched up to the manure wagon and wearing blinders for that to occur.

Freddie could still be right, though, but for the wrong reason. In other words, it's not that Oscar can't pull the trigger. It's more accurate to say that he won't pull the trigger. He's certainly physically capable of doing so, but he might not have the "fire" (mindset) anymore. Could this one-sided loss be his version of the Doors and "Light (re-ignite) My (his) Fire?

Here are some other things to consider. Could it simply have been Manny's style? Oscar basically fights in straight lines........straight in behind a jab, and backing straight out after throwing a combination before he changes angles. Manny is a geometric nightmare. He's not a Filipino, he's a Fillomino (a puzzle), a geometric nightmare. He doesn't fight in straight lines. No, to use a baseball jargon, he throws curves and knucklers. In mathematical jargon, he can bend lines and exercise parallels. There's no formula or jargon that quite fits, and I doubt if Floyd, Jr's "check hook" or lead right would be the solution either, as Floyd, Sr. implies. .

Does that mean it's a foregone conclusion that Manny would win in a rematch, or that Pretty Boy couldn’t beat him either? Obviously, that wasn't thought to be the case before Saturday. The odds makers and bookies thought Manny was very beatable. Is encouraging Floyd, Jr. to come out of retirement a mistake? Is he too old? Is he "flamed out as well? Should he stay retired and undefeated? .

In Oscar's case, one thing is for certain. He now definitely knows he should not have come into the ring at such a severely deprived weight. He barely tipped the scales at the strength depleting weight of 145 lbs., with the addition of only a pound or two by fight time. His weight hadn't been that low since he was in short pants. It left a "Yuk" in Oscar's belly (a cavity in a rock). Hell, Manny actually outweighed him by a pound. In hindsight, we all know that was a big mistake. Just how much it adversely effected the Golden Boy's overall physical condition and his mindset, only he knows.

One thing is pretty certain, his drastic weight loss meant a precious loss of strength, and that was supposed to be one of his big advantages, along with height and reach. There were a few times in the fight when Oscar attempted to muscle Manny back into the ropes, trap him, and unleash his vaunted left hook in rapid succession. 'When he did it, there was a flash of hope, a flicker of flame. What if he had the strength (and mindset) to do so over a longer period of time? Would it have been a different fight? Would there have been a different outcome?

Well, let's not imitate golfers and re-live our latest round, shot by shot. Rather, just consider the experts' edict that Oscar is kaput! Obviously the decision is his, but we shouldn't mistakenly put him into a category with Evander Holyfield, or one of the greatest defensive fighters of all time Muhammad Ali, who hung around much too long and is still paying the price for it.

No, Oscar is not in anyway at that stage of his career. He can continue at the highest level of boxing if he so chooses, and although Freddie might be right about not being able to pull the trigger, it's not because he can't. Rather, it's the mindset Oscar needs to change, and that's not something any trainer, dietician or fitness coach is going to provide for him. Only Oscar can do it.

The good news is there is still time, and it has been done. It is still possible. The choice, as always, is up to him. He's always been ready and willing to do what is necessary to physically prepare himself. A little more work on the mental side might have meant victories for him in his fights with Tito, Shane and Floyd, and as outrageous as it might sound, even against Manny. He's currently like the smoker who is constantly being told, “It's a bad habit and you need to quit”. Dah! He knows that, but he just can't seem to muster up the mindset to throw the pack away. Or, he's like the overweight slug, when he is told, "You need to exercise", but he can't get his hand out of the bag of Cheetos and his butt off the chaise lounge. But, we all know he really can if he so decides. People do it everyday. Something happens inside them, and they come to the realization that what they really want is to stop what they're doing. Their desire to quit becomes stronger than their desire to continue. In Oscar's case, he needs to stop something as well, and that's holding back. He needs to once again just plain fight. It's a mindset problem and not a physical deficiency.

He should take solace and draw some needed motivation from the great "Fighting Marine" Gene Tunney, who took one of the most severe beatings any fighter ever took when he ran into the Pittsburgh Windmill. Harry Greb beat up Tunney so badly that Tunney ended up in the hospital. You name the injury and Tunney had it........broken nose, gashes (not just cuts), and so on. They ran out of thread trying to stitch him up. Tunney probably even had a bruised in-step the way Greb punched from all angles. (Sound familar?) People thought Tunney was crazy when he demanded a rematch. But, Tunney was a student of game and a very determined individual. While still taking food through a straw in his hospital bed, he went over and over in his mind what went wrong and what he needed to do to correct things, and correct them he did. He got into the right mindset in a bed, not in the gym, and he came back to beat Greb several times thereafter. He didn't automatically have Greb's number. He acquired it in his mind, and then he carried it out so well that it was Greb who ended up saying he didn't want anymore of the future heavyweight champ.

Oscar's beating was much less severe, and even though it might not be wise for him to attempt to fight at 147 lbs again, he most certainly can learn from the loss, and still wreck havoc in more than one weight class. If he does negotiate a rematch, then the first thing he should plan on doing is to come into the ring on fight night closer to 160 lbs, and his mindset should be to play rough with his smaller opponent, and not to look for the perfect punch, because as we all know the opportunity for it never came. But, there were opportunities, many in fact, to land less than perfect punches, and those have a way of accumulating into the desired result.

Granted, maybe nothing will change, because Oscar won't change his mindset, but that doesn't mean he is incapable of doing so. The same naysayers who wouldn't give Manny a chance in the first fight, are just as wrong now when they say he is not physically able to do it anymore. Oscar can most definitely still do it, and can continue on with a very successful career. It's up to Oscar, and as always, The Golden Boy is in control.

Article posted on 11.12.2008

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