Sunday, February 21, 2016

An Objective Look At Oscar De La Hoya, Promoter

This situation may well require a serious look

Oscar De La Hoya was some kind of fighter, let me tell you. Here was a guy who was not only talented and brave - he was game, as well. And by game, I mean willing to fight anyone. Anyone. This here was the real deal, folks. Win. Lose. Didn't matter. Oscar kept plugging along. Oh, and he usually won.

Even when he was past his prime, the guy was great. It still puzzles me why the man stopped jabbing away during his superfight against Floyd Mayweather, a fight De La Hoya was clearly winning in my eyes. Indeed, one could only imagine how things would have turned out had the Golden Boy been in his prime. As far as that final crushing loss to Manny Pacquiao goes, it was simply a bridge too far. Oscar knew it himself and wisely hung up the gloves afterwards. No shame. No damage to his sterling reputation.

Unfortunately, addiction consumed post-ring Oscar and his promotional business, it seems, faltered on account of it. Still, Oscar fought his demons and once again firmly took control of his company, Golden Boy Promotions. Everyone was happy for the guy - and with good reason. What's more, this improved version of Oscar said he wanted to see the best fight the best. As a promoter, he could have said no better words.

Thing is, now fans are starting to wonder. Canelo Alvarez, Oscar's star fighter, is not seeming at first glance like Oscar did in his prime right now. For one thing, Canelo - or his team - are insisting on a catch weight before Canelo faces the fearsome Gennady Golovkin for middleweight supremacy. What's more, that same team seems to be wanting to push back the mandatory matchup with GGG.

The problem here is that Oscar is one of the leading forces behind team Canelo - if not THE leading force. Oscar likes to say a fight with GGG needs to "marinate," but people are wondering if "marinate" means wait until GGG's boyish hair shows signs of gray. That may be unfair of people to consider, but it's what they're wondering nonetheless.

Indeed, fans are feeling something odd is afoot and that's too bad. Oscar, after all, has come a long way to rebuilding his hard earned and stellar reputation. It's also worth keeping in mind that neither Oscar nor Canelo have shown so much as an ounce of fear at the prospect of Canelo fighting GGG. So it may indeed be all about making as much money as possible on a very big matchup, as far as these men are concerned.

Still, fight fans want to see good fights. Unlike the power players that call the shots, they see boxing as a sport first, a business second. Oscar, at least at the moment, doesn't seem to see things the way fans do. His whole approach to Canelo-GGG seems a bit to coy, a bit too smooth, a bit, let's face it, too contemporary. And, in case you haven't guessed it, contemporary boxing practices are far from lauded.

With all that in mind, however, it seems Oscar may ("may" being the operative word here) have been hosed - perhaps not even intentionally - by Richard Schaefer, a Golden Boy honcho who might (again, be mindful of the operative word here - "might") have helped fight guru Al Haymon more than he did Oscar himself. In other words, Oscar's company may now be on shaky ground if its star, Canelo, loses badly.

Like it or not, boxing IS still a business and, yeah, Oscar is a businessman - one with responsibilities and mouths to feed. Then again, it's only fair to claim that boxing is a sport first and a business second. What's more, no one is forced into the promotion game. On top of that, it's Oscar who has been claiming he want to make the best fights.

Indeed, the whole thing might be considered a confusing mess. Even Schaefer might not be a snarling villain in all this. After all, he may well have only been trying to steer a company whose leader was on an extended bender through treacherous waters. It's easy to point fingers at guys like Schaefer without putting ourselves in his shoes at the time first.

The point here is that there's lots to consider when it comes to complex matters. And, yeah, believe it or not, the fight game is a complex matter. Ultimately, however, fans have a right to see the best fight the best. When that doesn't happen, the sport, and especially those power players who run it, fail in their obligations.

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