Golden Boy No More

By Tom Donelson
Updated: December 7, 2008

IOWA CITY — Oscar De La Hoya’s days as a fighter are over. Oscar De La Hoya as a boxing promoter is in its infancy. Saturday night, the Golden Boy showed that once again, father time waits for no one and there is no room for a part time boxer, even for an elite fighter.

Manny Pacquiao showed Saturday night that he is one of this generation great fighters and will go down in history as one of the best pound for pound fighters in history; deserving to be mentioned in the same breath as a Henry Armstrong and Sugar Ray Leonard. Greatness is his to claim.

As for De La Hoya, he was one of this generation better fighters but he never seemed to claim mantle of greatness of a Sugar Ray Leonard or a Floyd Mayweather.

He seemed just one punch away from joining the greatest on the top of Mount Olympia but never quite going over the hump. His Hall of fame career ends the way that most fighters end, on a stool looking beaten and bewildered.

The tightly honed skils that he spent a lift time perfecting simply disappeared.

From the opening bell, it became obvious that this would be a special night but not for the Golden Boy. After the first round, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said, “The victory was no surprise. In round 1, I knew we had him. He had no legs, he was hesitant; he was shot.”

Throughout the bout, De Hoya looked like a figther who never seemed to pull the trigger on punches as ESPN’s Dan Rafael observed, Pacquaio “was ripping off four and five punch combinations and De La Hoya was able to muster one shot at a time.”

In the opening round, a big Pacquiao shot landed off De La Hoya’s head and boom, he was away before De La Hoya could counter. A welt developed under De La Hoya’s eyes by the end of hte second round and ti began obviouls early that boxing fans were witnessing history as Pacquaio showed the stuff of greatness.

A fighter who began fighting at 106 pounds, and who made his fame fighting in the featherweight and super featherweight division; Pacquiao moved into the weltereight and fought as if this was his natural weight.

In the early rounds, Oscar De La Hoya attempted to trap the Pac-man on the ropes but the speed of Pacquiao allowed him the ability to escape and De La Hoya looked like a fighter swatting at flies with his bare hands and missing.

Between the third and fourth round, Roach told his charge, “Oscar’s very slow” and the opening of the fourth round saw Pacquiao nailing De La Hoya with two straight lefts, jarring the formerly Golden Boy and while De La Hoya found a way to connect with a right, it did nothing to discourage the smaller Pacquiao.

From this point, the results were preordained as Pacquaio connected with punches upon punches. In the seventh round, Pacquaio connected, that right connected with 45 power shots on Oscar De La Hoya.

I don’t mean that he threw 45 power shots, he connected on 45 power shots. That sealed the deal as De La Hoya’s corner told their fighter that unless something happened t convince them that this was still a fight; they were stopping it.

After the eighth round, the inevitable happened as De La Hoya sat on his stool and said, “no mas.” One era ended. For De La Hoya, he was on of boxing better ambassador, a superstar who provided fans with some of the best fights and more popular events.

As he became more dominant in the ring, he translated that into ring power outside the ring by promoting big events. From 130 pounds to 160 pounds, he fought some of the best and while some declared him the fighter who couldn’t never win the big one; he won his share of big fights.

He should have won the first Trinidad fight and was robbed in the scond Mosley fight but on the other hand, he should not have won the Felix Sturm fight.

With the exception of Pacquiao and Hopkins, every big fights were close competitive affairs and as one analyst observed after the first Trinidad fight, “He allowed it to go the scorecard.”

This was always De La Hoya flaw, he never seemed to finish off opponents that he was beating and too many times, he allowed his destiny in the hands of judges. Sometimes he prevailed like in his Middleweight class with Strum and sometimes he did not, like the second Mosley fight.

Shed no tears for De La Hoya, he had a great career in the ring and will leave as one of boxing richest fighers. After the fight, he talked like aman who knew the end was at hand as he noted, “It’s a lot different story when you’re traning than when you are actually in the ring.”

“I just felt flat, like I didn’t have it.”

De La Hoya have always been a big event performer but after last night, the curtain came down on the performer. However, he prepared himself for the moment with business adventures outside of the ring and his star power often translated into promotion power as Golden Boy is one of bigger boxing promotion bodies.

De La Hoya, the businessman, often found ways to get others like Mosley and Hopkins to join him outside of the ring and don’t be surprise if Pacquiao joins the Golden Boy empire.

This may have been as much a job interview for partnership in one of boxing’s more successful organization as it was a fight. Many of De La Hoya’s conquerours often joined him as business partners.

As for Pacquiao, he is on the verge of being one of boxing permier attractions and in the audience was Ricky Hatton, a possible future opponent. While some like ESPN’s Teddy Atlas and boxing pundit Cliff Rold conjectured a possible Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, a Hatton-Pacquiao would light up the PPV buys.

These are two superstars at their peak and who have shown star power in their own right. Pacquaio have demonstrated over his last two fights that his power is staying with him as he moves up and his quickness is more pronounced as he competes with bigger fighters.

This would be a competitive fight with two great fighters at their peak and whose popularity streches across teh globe and not just in the United States.

De La Hoya havs been one of boxing big attractions but like all big attraction, the novelty has worn off. There is no more big shows left in this proud warrior.

From this point, De La Hoya’s competitive juices will have to be satisfied in the corporate board room. As for Pacquaio, he will have the opportunity to cement not only his legacy but his weath as he will be one of boxing’s big attractions.

It is not often that fighter combines both showmanship with great skills. Fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson did not just fight fights, they fought in events.

Oscar De La Hoya most closely resembled both of these fighters in a similar appeal and now Pacquiao has a similar opportunity.