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The Golden Goose is Running Out of Eggs
(May 12, 2004) 
Oscar De La Hoya
Oscar De La Hoya has announced that he will take two more fights, no more and no less. Those two fights include a superfight in the fall with World Middleweight Champion Bernard Hopkins, but to get to that point De La Hoya must first get past largely unknown entity Felix Sturm. Win or lose against Hopkins, that will be it, Oscar tells us. No Trinidad rematch, no Mosley trilogy, no Ricardo Mayorga, no Winky Wright. In a move that we knew was coming sooner or later, the “Golden Boy” will be all finished with boxing by year’s end.

Ever since his amateur career culminated in an Olympic Gold Medal, Oscar has been boxing’s brightest and most marketable star. He had a heartwarming story that involved winning the gold for his recently deceased mother, and a smile that could warm hearts, especially those of teenage girls. That story, that smile, Oscar’s charisma and boxing skills have translated into big bucks for De La Hoya and anyone fortunate enough to share a ring with him along the way. De La Hoya has almost single-handedly kept boxing afloat during an era that was largely devoid of any crossover stars, an era during which boxing on network television has been seen about as frequently as visits from Haley’s Comet. Now, however, boxing is about to lose its “Golden Goose.”

De La Hoya has to do what is in his best interests, not what the sport of boxing wants or demands. What does he have left to fight for, anyway? He has made more money than he or anyone else not named Mike Tyson could ever spend, and it’s not like he can’t make money outside the ring. He has proven that he is a very capable promoter and he could even fall back on his (gasp) Grammy Award nominated singing career if things ever got really bad. Move over William Hung, Oscar might be back to the music world soon. He has won tons of championships, beginning at junior lightweight (if you count the WBO) and going all the way up to junior middleweight. He will try to add yet another handful of belts to his collection when he goes up against Hopkins. So why would he continue to fight, really? Let’s explore the matchups suggested above and see what incentive to keep fighting each would represent to Oscar.

De La Hoya vs. Trinidad II

This one would be absolutely huge, probably even bigger than their first fight, especially since Tito is coming out of retirement. What this fight has to offer Oscar is obvious: great financial reward and a chance to avenge one of the three losses on his record. It might also be an easier fight for De La Hoya to win if Trinidad exhibits any ring rust and De La Hoya can execute the same plan as he did in their first fight. He would go into battle this time armed with the knowledge that he has to fight for a full twelve rounds, and not just eight. And if he hasn’t learned that by now, he never will.

Unfortunately, De La Hoya may not think that he really needs this fight, for several reasons. One is that he feels, along with many others, that he won the first Trinidad fight outright, regardless of what the judges said. Another is that with Hopkins’ destruction of Trinidad, a victory over “The Executioner” might provide us with all we need to know about the way a rematch with Tito might go. As far as the money, which is always there no matter who De La Hoya fights, the fact is that De La Hoya simply has too much of it to be swayed by someone waving another $20 or $30 million in his face. Then again, who’s to say? Remember an already very rich George Foreman picking up $4 and $5 million crumbs in fights with the likes of Lou Savarese and Shannon Briggs? Though doubtful in De La Hoya’s case, it could happen.

De La Hoya vs. Mosley III

Same song, different verse. This fight also gives De La Hoya the opportunity to pocket a few million and reverse a loss or two on his record. Chances are that this fight would not be a very big box office attraction, because Mosley is 1-3-1 in his last five fights, and has not looked very impressive in any of those fights, including the lone win that came against De La Hoya. After two close fights and two wins by Mosley, how many times will people continue to pay to see “Sugar” Shane go to the well against De La Hoya? Mosley’s style obviously presents problems for Oscar, and given the relatively easy times Vernon Forrest and Winky Wright had with Mosley, another bout with Mosley would probably only hurt De La Hoya’s legacy.

De La Hoya vs. Ricardo Mayorga

This is a fight, like the Trinidad fight, that would generate big numbers for everyone involved. De La Hoya already has a substantial fan base, and almost everyone loves to see Ricardo Mayorga fight, unless he’s in there with a cutie like Cory Spinks. Mayorga knows a thing or two about how to promote a fight, and one can just imagine the verbal barrage “El Matador” would unleash on Oscar. We could only hope that this time Mayorga will keep the departed mother insults to himself.

As for the fight, there is no question that Oscar would come out looking like one tough SOB if he had the cajones to get in there with Mayorga. Likely he would box Mayorga to death and win a wide decision, and look a lot better in doing it than did Spinks. One problem that might make De La Hoya steer clear of this one, as is the case with a lot of fights that could happen, but don’t, is that Mayorga is a Don King commodity.

De La Hoya vs. Winky Wright

Winky Wright, in spite of his win over Mosley, is just not the type of fighter who is ever going to inspire the fans. He is a talented and perpetually underrated southpaw boxer, and he always puts in a workmanlike if not aesthetically pleasing effort. Ugh. There’s that word....workmanlike. Saying a fighter put in a workmanlike effort is like telling a girl who wants to be beautiful that she is “cute.” Wright may be cute, but he’s not beautiful, and beautiful is what the fans pay to see.

This fight would give De La Hoya a chance to add a little to his legacy, but his legacy is already secure. Fighting Wright would still be a favor to Wright, even though Winky is the one who holds all of the junior middleweight belts. De La Hoya still just doesn’t need Wright.

All things considered, there likely will not be enough money or a fight big enough to make De La Hoya go back on his word. He finds himself in a position similar to that of Lennox Lewis earlier this year, with money and challenges still to be accepted, but also with the wisdom to know that a line has to be drawn somewhere. Sure, he could keep fighting against the guys mentioned, and then Kassim Ouma, and Jermain Taylor. Beyond the Ouma’s and Taylor’s, however, there will always be some other young buck who wants a piece of the Golden Goose. So after Hopkins, Oscar should draw the line. He has carried the sport long enough.
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