Oscar De La Hoya earned a unanimous decision victory over former 130-pound champion Steve Forbes May 3. More than 27,000 fans were at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. This fight marked the first time De La Hoya fought on HBO in seven years. It was his way to give back to his fans in this first of three farewell fights before hanging up the gloves.
The fight played out as a glorified sparring session with much left to be desired. Forbes was a handpicked opponent who fought as best he could against a person he couldn’t hurt with a punch under any circumstance.
With only nine knockouts to Forbes’s credit heading into this fight, the likelihood of lightning striking De La Hoya may have been more probable than him getting knocked out by Forbes.
The 12 rounds of boxing allowed the commentators plenty of time to talk about the upcoming fight of De La Hoya against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. With their best promotional foot forward they succeeded in selling the fight. Then again, I am not the hardest person to convince to watch a fight. I watch Friday night fights on ESPN, and sometimes Wednesday night fights if I am lucky enough to catch then. Point being, I am a true fan of the sport. In an era of boxing where the amount of real fan-friendly fights has taken a backseat to name boxers of yesteryear doing their best to impersonate real fighters leaves me wanting more. Luckily for me, the other network that shows boxing, Showtime, just happened to be showing a documentary on the Rafael Marquez-Israel Vazquez trilogy. It reminded me of what first endeared me to the sport of boxing: the competitive aspect.
The competitive aspect was noticeably absent from the De La Hoya fight. However, it couldn’t be missed in the aforementioned three-fight trilogy between Marquez and Vazquez, lower-weight fighters most of you probably have never heard of.
The point shows why boxing isn’t the same as it used to be. From Joe Louis’s triumphant destruction of German fighter Max Schmeling at Yankee stadium to Muhammad Ali’s first fight with Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden, these fights meant something, not only to the fighters but to the country. Louis proved that a Nazi could be defeated, and that America could stand tall against a formidable foe. Ali allowed Americans to openly voice their opinion on the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. He represented the dissenting opinion of the war, when he refused induction.
In the past, a boxer fought for something, whether it was a political view, to support his family, or to support his country. Nowadays, a lot of boxers fight just to get paid. The only hope a fight fan has is for a boxer to come along who fights, not just for himself, but to honor both the sport and his country. Luckily, these fighters do exist. Although rare, nothing beats watching Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines, Erik Morales of Tijuana, Mexico or Ricky Hatton of England, who exemplify what it is to be a true boxer of the past.
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