Did Floyd Mayweather’s Retirement Defeat Oscar De La Hoya?

Michael Herron - In 2008 Boxing’s most popular fighter Oscar De La Hoya was dead set on a rematch with pound for pound champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Everything was set up and ready to go, he had passed his tougher than expected tune up against Steve Forbes, reenlisted Floyd Mayweather Sr. as his trainer, selected the venue, promotional dates, and there was an agreement with both camps. Then came a shocker, Mayweather delivers a blow no one saw coming, he retires from the sport. His rationale, “I don’t love boxing anymore..

Though many fans are happy there won’t be a Mayweather-De La Hoya II, his retirement did leave a terrible void in the very competitive welterweight division. In the world of HBO and big money PPV fights however the retirement may yet turn out to be a great decision for Mayweather, and a costly one for De La Hoya.

As a result of Mayweather’s early exit, De La Hoya goes on to make the worse decision of his fighting career, he opts to fight lightweight champion and current pound for pound superstar Manny Pacquiao whom De La Hoya, his camp, and the boxing world believe, due to his size advantage, is a winnable fight. Though the weight disparity is obvious, the decision to fight Pacquiao is not completely out of bounds when considering that De La Hoya has prided himself on “fighting the best.” The problem however is that the “best” is not always in a weight class he should be fighting in. He made this mistake before when he chose to fight Bernard Hopkins at 160 (didn’t he see what happened to Felix Trinidad?) but with even more disastrous results when he chose to move back to 147 and battle Manny Pacquiao last December.

As the promotion gained steam the focus was on Manny Pacquiao and his size disadvantages. It was assumed he was too small to compete with De La Hoya as he’d have to jump two weight divisions from 135 to 147; a real David vs Goliath. Meanwhile De La Hoya would ultimately lose a lot more than weight. He lost Mayweather Sr. as his trainer who chose to work with Manchester’s Ricky Hatton instead. He also sacrificed inside knowledge of his fighting condition to former trainer Freddie Roach who works with Pacquiao full time. Even worse, Oscar loss the sentiment of fans; as an underdog, he would have been a hero against the reviled Mayweather, but became a bully picking on a smaller guy against Pacquiao.

So as it turns out, Freddie Roach, who was vilified in De La Hoya’s loss to Mayweather Jr., is vindicated by coaching Pacquiao to a devastating victory. Floyd Mayweather Sr. likewise looks like a genius when Ricky Hatton destroys Paulie Malignaggi, and Manny Pacquiao secures his pound for pound title, adds to his legacy, and is prepared to move on to bigger and better things.

So the question is what was Oscar thinking? What was there to gain from fighting Pacquiao? No titles were on the line, he didn’t need the money, and he didn’t need the fight. Is it simply the idea of defeating a fighter considered pound for pound the best his motivating factor? Does Oscar think that if he beats Pacquiao he becomes the best? The only pound for pound fighters Oscar ever defeated were aging legends Pernell Whitaker and Julio Cesar Chavez. Against the top fighters of his own era however he has routinely come up short. Perhaps in search of that one defining victory, Mayweather’s unexpected retirement and cancellation of the rematch affected Oscar’s logic circuits? This condition has been seen before, Marvin Hagler was fixated on Ray Leonard, Frazier on Ali, Tarver on Roy Jones, and the worse case of all is Vitali Klitscho’s fixation with Lennox Lewis. I believe that De La Hoya was fixated on Mayweather. To the point that he would fight Pacquiao, three weight classes below, just because he is the successor to Mayweather’s pound for pound title.

So what’s my point? Oscar never wanted to fight Pacquiao; his heart wasn’t in that fight. He was set on Mayweather, that’s who he mentally and emotionally prepared himself for and that is the victory that could have catapulted De La Hoya to All Time Great status. It could have even softened the sting of previous losses. Defeating Pacquiao on the other hand would have been an empty victory. Critics would have simply written that off as too big a size gap for Pacquiao to overcome. Some may even say that De La Hoya should be ashamed for picking on a smaller guy.

As the world awaits Pacquiao’s next move, it appears Hatton will get the call. This fight brings trainers Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Freddie Roach back in the picture and if Pacquiao gets pass that challenge he has an even bigger opponent and payday waiting in Floyd Mayweather Jr. If Hatton wins, Mayweather Sr training him for a rematch against his son will still sell many PPV's. But regardless of the scenario, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is set to steal the show later this year effectively making his so-called “retirement” a great decision for him and an unexpected disaster for Oscar De La Hoya.

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Article posted on 21.01.2009

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