by Paul Magno
This is not about Oscar De la Hoya’s legacy as a fighter- that subject has been beat to death by now. 22-6 against world class opposition, the 6 losses coming to 5 first-ballot Hall of Famers, etc…Either you respect him or you don’t and there are no minds changing one way or the other.
However, how about Oscar’s reputation as an ambassador for the sport; As someone ready and willing to use his fame to put a positive spin on Boxing and reward us fans for our loyalty? This is part of the article I was writing before Pacquiao pulled off the upset:
In the beginning I always stated that there was no way Oscar could damage his legacy with only one fight…Now, I’m not so sure because its not just ONE fight anymore. Oscar, by seeking this irrelevant and vanity-driven fight, is robbing the sport of any number of important, quality fights such as Pacquiao vs. Nate Campbell, Pacquaio vs. Juan Diaz, Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez 3 and, on his own side of the coin, he’s taken away the intriguing match-ups that he, himself could’ve booked for the closing chapters of his career like Oscar vs. Margarito, Oscar vs. Cotto or Oscar vs. Any of the Young Lions at 154. And not only is Oscar stabbing the 154, 147 and 135 lb weight classes in the eye with a nonsense fight, but he’s also strongly hinted at the fact that his next foe will be 140lb leader Ricky Hatton, thereby robbing the sport of quality and logical Jr. Welter fights such as Hatton vs. Bradley, Hatton vs., the winner of Holt/Torres 3 and the much less illogical, Hatton vs. Pacquiao.
Although some of the specifics have changed due to the outcome of the fight, the sentiment remains in tact.
Oscar chose to close out his career with what he thought were easy encounters against smaller opponents and he was more than willing to hard-sell those nonsense fights as legitimate, competitive fights to casual fans who may have not known any better. In essence, aside from directly standing in the way of quality fights for us hardcore fans, he was selling out the future of the sport in order to make a couple of quick scores. That says something about the way he thinks, at least at this last stage of his career.
Golden Boy Promotions has done a decent job of providing quality fights, but nowhere near as good as their initial push indicated. Most Golden Boy cards are now characterized by old fighters in the main event, supported by younger fighters in massive mismatches underneath. The talent is there to make good contests all around, but the desire to give more bang for the buck is, obviously, not. Oscar’s company isn’t the only who practices the art of the short-change, but Oscar boasted that his company was going to be different; A company by the fighters, for the fans and of benefit to both. This has not been the case and, from the way Oscar had been pushing things, he wasn’t even trying to keep his earlier promises.
Here’s hoping that the loss on Saturday brought some humility to Oscar and knocked some sense into his head. Maybe his failed attempt at manipulation of the masses will make him realize that the best strategy for Boxing dominance is to put together quality fighters in quality fights.
But what about his legacy?
As a fighter, his legacy is untouchable- Easy first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the best of this modern era. However, I can no longer count him as a friend and ambassador of the sport, not when his last move as an active participant was such a cynical and manipulative ploy. What’s sad is that he openly and gleefully chose to denigrate the very thing that made him the success he is today.
The next time Oscar looks into the camera and smiles his golden smile while promoting an upcoming fight, will you believe what comes from his mouth? Will you be able to take him at face value and overlook the scam he tried to pull on you? I know I won’t…not anymore.