Oscar De La Hoya, one of my favorite fighters in recent memory. That guy had the whole tool box, but also had the fearlessness to be great. I enjoyed watching Oscar over his career; he took on every tough opponent that was there to fight. Oscar had the total package, for those of us who like a display of skills, Oscar provided that. For those who like fights with the very best in the sport facing off in their known primes, Oscar also gave us that. I can’t think of a fighter he may have ducked, I can’t think of a fight where he didn’t give the fans what they wanted. In my estimation, these are traits of a fighter that anyone could be proud of. But when it comes to Oscar, I never felt the Mexican community totally embraced him, and I’ve always wondered why.
After this weekends no show by De La Hoya, I don’t think he did his reputation with Mexican fans any favors. I wonder is being a bit deceiving written in the job description of a promoter, because they all seem to have that characteristic. I’m hard pressed to find comparison for the show of patriotism that was on display this past weekend by Mexican fans. There’s only one Ricky Hatton that comes to mind, but why never such passion for the Golden boy?
If you are not Mexican I have come to the conclusion that you may be an outsider in this matter. It’s a Mexican thing, and us who are not, may not get it, but that is to be respected. I have asked some of my Mexican friends who follow boxing about this, though never collaborative answers it always seems to boil back down to Oscar not quite being Mexican enough. As I said, for us outsiders, it’s a Mexican thing and you might not understand, but respect it.
I asked my boy Alex “why don’t you like Oscar”; Alex’s response was actually original and one that I had never heard before. “He’s a pretty boy, back in the day we would have fight parties as a family, my aunts would be in the kitchen talking and my uncles and I would be watching the fight. When Oscar came on the scene, my aunts who never cared about the fights where now front row cheering for the pretty boy. It started as fun between the men and women with the girls going for Oscar and the guys going for whom ever else”. All in fun if you ask me, but a thin line was to come in the near future that went by the name of Julio Cesar Chavez.
In 1996 a fight between the beloved Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya was shown on closed circuit due to a dispute with Bob Arum and cable providers. Arum wanted guaranteed money from cable providers due to them not having a grasp on the “black box” situation. Arum felt that many people were not paying for pay per view because it could easily be stolen.
In round 1 a cut was opened over Chavez eye, and by the fourth round a bloody mess. The fight was called in the fourth round with a win for Oscar. In 1998 the two legends squared off again. This time there were no excuses as Chavez could not make the bell for the 9th round resulting in a tko for De La Hoya. I don’t think anyone blames Oscar for winning the fight, I think it’s the fashion in which he did so. I think back to Ali vs. Holmes, which in some way is a perfect analogy. Older beloved champion versus the new guy, this is the moment where torches are passed, but seeing your hero beaten hurts no matter what. The difference is Holmes paid homage to the elder statesmen, whereas Oscar seemed to feel nothing about sticking the proverbial fork into the legend. Holmes in that fight gestured to the ref to stop the fight, almost hoping to not have to hurt his child hood hero. The ref continued to let l Ali lie against the ropes and be pounded until Holmes let loose a hellacious series of punches in order to get the ref to stop the fight. That show of respect in return lefted no stain on Holmes, as fans appreciated the show of respect to the fallen legend.
Three fights later, Oscar ever ambitious was in with the most feared puncher in the sport by the name of Felix Trinidad. It’s been well documented what happened in this fight, I believe Oscar in that fight was the closest thing I have seen to Sugar Ray Leonard for eight rounds. The last 3 rounds I believe again lefted a soured taste in the mouths of Mexican fans. Oscar as some like to say “ran”, even though what he did has been a staple in boxing for nearly a century, he was still crucified by many fans. May be Oscars choice to get on his bike wasn’t the Mexican way, maybe he should have given Trinidad a chance at landing the KO punch, to eaches own. But again in what should have been victory, De La Hoya came out stained once again.
Now we have this past Saturday night with a no show from Oscar. In my estimation Oscar was working himself back in good graces with the legions of Mexican fans by pushing so hard for Canelo. Oscar was on the front line in the promotions, and seemed to really want to do this for the people. Oscar was so convincing that he almost convinced me, and I’m a complete skeptic. It seemed the tide had taken a turn for Oscar, seemed as though he could be the one to lead in restoring the great tradition of Mexican boxing. In the end Oscar mysteriously went to rehab a week out from the fight. To me proving that he has always been more about the green, rather than the brown. I ask, is this the final straw with Oscar and the many astute Mexican fans, or is this just part of the job, something I have always wondered.