Saturday, December 06, 2008

Oscar De La Hoya vs Manny Pacquiao: In Support of Oscar De La Hoya

By: Randy De La O

I have mentioned before that I feel like the Lone Ranger in my support of Oscar De La Hoya but a more accurate analogy would be General George Armstrong Custer making his last stand against the entire Souix and Cheyenne nations. It's a lonely feeling.

Whether Oscar wins his fight with Manny Pacqiauo or not, his career is coming to an end. Even if he fights one or two more times next year, his career is winding down. It's been a great career too. A gold medal in Spain in the 1992 Olympics, several world titles and several great fights. Through it all Oscar has recieved a lot of criticism, some deserved, some not. Oscar may not have won all of his fights but I don't really see that as a big deal. Not even Babe Ruth batted a thousand. Everyone loses. Oscar never really made excuses and he was one of the few that took on all challengers. He fought the best of his era and if he came up short a few times it was only because he dared. While everyone else around him were doing their best to avoid each other, trying to keep their positions and rankings or titles, in the hope of fighting Oscar.

We lament about the fighters from the past. We remember how they could lose a fight, shake off the loss and come back and fight again. We loved the old time fighters. No trash talking and no excuses. We complain too, how promoters, managers and just about every hustler looking to make a buck would use up a fighter, then spit him out when they were done with him. So many exfighters ended up broke, alone and maybe a little punch drunk, some more than a little. Some never made it at all.

So, in Oscar De la Hoya, we have a fighter that fought the best of his day. Win lose or draw, he fought the best of his day. In 1996 when De La Hoya fought and beat the great Julio Cesar Chavez, we all thought he did something special. He made it look easy that night. At that time Chavez had suffered only one loss, by split decision to Frankie Randall only two years earlier. Chavez, though no longer at his peak, was still a force to be reckoned with. Why have we retroactively changed the dynamics of that fight?

If Oscar has fallen short at times, and who hasn't, it is only because he is a fighter who takes risks. Fighting guys like Pernell Whitaker, Felix Trinidad, Sugar Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather Jr and early in his career, Rafael Ruelas and Genaro Hernandez. In the riskiest of business' DeLa Hoya took plenty of risks.

The late Jerry Quarry, one of the bravest in what is arguably the toughest of occupations once said "No coward ever stepped in to the ring". I agree. It would be an impossibility.

To sum it all up, in De La Hoya we have a fighter that has faced the best, he has been a gracious winner and just as importantly he knew how to lose. He shook of his losses, ignored the criticism and continued to fight, winning some and losing some. Unlike most fighters, Oscar has never touted his own greatness.

In Oscar we have a fighter who made up his mind early on that no one was going use him up and spit him out when they were done with him. In that, he has succeeded like no other fighter before him.

In Oscar, we have a fighter that, despite proving himself over the years in a business where "No coward has ever stepped in to the ring" he continues to be called a coward, even by those that should know better. It's almost shameful.

Oscar fights Manny Pacquiao tonight. On paper it has the makings of a fight that can't fail. I hope it lives up to the expectations. Despite the fact that Pacquiao refuses to face his rightful challenger in Juan Manuel Marquez, he has had an admirable career.

Personally, I think too much is being made of the size difference between the two. Boxing has never been about the height, it has been about the weight.The size issue has been brought up ad nauseam but it is not unprecedented. Carlos Monzon enjoyed a height advantage over Jose Napoles. Tommy Hearns at 6' 1" towered over a 5' 7 1/2" Roberto Duran. Hearns had not only the height advantage but the youth advantage as well. Duran began his career as a 118 pounder and was a natural lightweight. He fought Hearns as a Jr Middleweight. Duran was no Jr. middleweight. Hearns ended his career as a cruiserweight. He was a big man. My point is, is that it is not unprecedented.

Tonight I will be pulling for De la Hoya to win, hopefully by knockout. Pacquiao and his fans can take solace in all the ready made, built in excuses that have been put in place by almost every boxing writer in the country. The same excuses that will ultimately, at least in perception, make De La Hoya's victory appear hollow.

To writers like Doug Krikorian of the Long Beach Press Telegram and others of his ilk, I leave you with this:

.....It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.......

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