August 22, 2008

Will De La Hoya be remembered as a “Chicken?”

By El Gran Campeon

When the clock strikes midnight on December 6th 2008, it will mark the end of the career of one of boxing’s most celebrated fighters of all time. Oscar De La will hang up the gloves, capping off a 16 year illustrious career. A career that has seen him accomplish great feats such as his gold medal victory in the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona, as well as defeating more than a dozen world champions, and winning six world titles. Oscar will be remembered as many things, a “Golden Boy”, a charismatic champion, a record breaker but in the eyes of many Mexican boxing fans, Oscar will be seen as nothing more than a chicken.

Early in his career, Oscar was given the nickname “chicken” De La Hoya, by New York based writer Michael Katz. The nickname was given to Oscar because Katz felt that Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions Inc. (Oscar’s promoter at the time) was matching him up against unranked and much weaker opponents. Fast forward to 2008 and it seems as though the “chicken” is back. Oscar’s sudden case of chicken-itis, is due to the recent rise and success of his former sparring partner WBA welterweight champion Antonio “The Tijuana Tornado” Margarito (37-5-27 KOs).

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock and have never heard of the Tijuana tornado it is because nobody wants to fight the guy, plain and simple. Before his July 26th dismantling of former undefeated champion Miguel Cotto, Margarito had the reputation of being the most avoided man in boxing. Shane Mosley, Zab Judah, Ricardo Mayora, all turned down fights with him, even Floyd Mayweather Jr., turned down 8 million dollars to fight the man from Tijuana. You can now add Oscar De La Hoya to the top of that list.

Margarito has been calling out De La Hoya for years now, but to no avail. In a 2005 interview with Doghouseboxing.com, Antonio stated that “Oscar is no longer a fighter, he’s a business man, and if you ask me, he’s a smart business man. Oscar will not fight me because he knows I’ll retire him and he’s not ready to stop deceiving the public.”

Margarito has also publicly stated that Oscar made a “promise” to him. According to Antonio, Oscar’s promise was that if Margarito ever became a world champion, and upped his status as a profitable name he would offer him a fight. Well, he became a champion in 2005, and again on July 26th, and he is still waiting for “the golden boy” to fulfill his promise. When asked about this in a recent interview, Oscar backtracked and stated that “It wasn’t a promise.” He has recently backtracked on another comment he had made while promoting his book “American Son.”

While on his book tour, Oscar told everyone that would listen that he would gladly fight the winner of Cotto vs. Margarito for his final fight. When the dust had settled and after all the blood had been shed, Margarito was left standing to De La Hoya’s dismay. When asked about fighting Antonio like he said he would, Oscar admitted that he like everyone else had expected Cotto to win. Cue in the excuses. Oscar said that he could not fight Margarito for two reasons. The first being, Oscar feels that Antonio has “unfinished business” with WBO welterweight champion Paul “The Punisher” Williams. Williams defeated Margarito via unanimous decision in an exciting action fight last year. Oscar said that it would be “disrespectful” to Williams, to even be talking about a fight with Antonio.

Oscar’s other and main reason for not fighting the Tijuana Tornado is that he does not want to fight a “Mexican” for his gran depedida. He does not want to have a repeat of the negative fanfare he received when he fought against the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez.

Leading up to that fight, Oscar was seen as the bad guy. Many Mexican fans felt that because Oscar was not born in Mexico, he simply wasn’t a true Mexican fighter. As a result, Oscar received threats over the phone and through mail from angry Chavez supporters who did not want to see the pride of Mexico fall. In addition, Oscar had to hire 3 additional bodyguards to help fend off some of Chavez’s rabid fans. Oscar would go on to score two victories over Chavez. As a result, De La Hoya’s relationship with the Mexican fans would never be the same again.

What Oscar needs to realize is that Antonio Margarito is not Julio Cesar Chavez. Chavez was a full fledged icon by the time he fought Oscar, while Margarito is barely starting to receive the recognition that he deserves. I think it is safe to say that Oscar would not need to hire any extra bodyguards for a fight with Margarito. What makes this reason sound more like an excuse, is that Oscar has been contemplating fighting Mexican-American, and current 154 WBC pound champion Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora for his last fight. I guess being born in America doesn’t make Mora a true “Mexican” fighter, right Oscar.

When made aware of these reasons, Margarito and his team laughed them off. Antonio then showed the ultimate sign of disrespect by challenging Oscar’s manhood. According to Sergio Diaz, Margarito’s co-promoter, he stated that “Margarito told me that what Oscar needs to do is take off the fishnets that he still wears underneath his clothes, step up and become a man by accepting the fight.” In the past, challenging Oscar’s manhood was something that you didn’t do. Just ask Fernando Vargas or Ricardo Mayorga if you don’t believe me. Both men talked the talk, but could not walk the walk as both fell victim to Oscar’s lethal left hook. So why is Margarito an exception? For starters, he has a better chin than both Vargas, and Mayorga combined. Perhaps, it is because Oscar has felt Margarito’s power before.

Early in his career, a young Antonio Margarito was summoned Oscar by De La Hoya to spar with him. Margarito say’s that Oscar got more then what he bargained for. “I always made Oscar bleed when we sparred. I would hurt Oscar so much that he would have his trainer dismiss me from his training camp. Oscar wanted to hit, but he would get upset when I would hit back” Antonio stated.

Oscar De La Hoya remains adamant about his decision not to fight Antonio Margarito. He is currently in negotiations to fight 135 pound champion Manny “Pacman”Pacquiao. One would think that De La Hoya would gain much more respect by fighting someone his own size, and someone that would give him a great battle in Margarito. I just don’t see how fighting a way smaller fighter in Pacquiao, could enhance “the golden boy’s” legacy. Oscar’s backers say that Antonio is just trying to cash in, on his one great victory. Margarito sees fighting De La Hoya as his destiny, the same way that Oscar saw fighting Chavez. The only difference is that Chavez never gave any excuses. He gave the younger, bigger, stronger De La Hoya a chance.

El Gran Chisme

Margarito, Chavez Jr. to fight at Dodger Stadium. Spurned by De La Hoya, Antonio Margarito will now look to unify the titles in the welterweight division. His first chance will come on November 1st, when he squares off against the Dangerous IBF champion Joshua Clottey. Clottey is coming off an impressive win against former champ Zab Judah. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will battle Matt Vanda on the under card. No official word has been said, but officials at Top Rank Inc, are thinking of staging these fights at Dodger Stadium.

Tornado Victims to Clash? Miguel Cotto recently said that he would like to return to the ring in December. He also said that he would love to fight fellow Boricua, and Margarito victim, fighter Kermit Cintron. Cotto stated that he would welcome the idea of a possible rematch with Antonio Margarito, maybe sometime next year.

No country for old men? Legends Erik “El Terrible” Morales, and Marco Antonio Barrera are both eyeing a return to the ring. Morales is looking to return sometime next year. His sole purpose of returning would be to win his 4th world title in his 4th different weight division. Barrera yet undecided would like to return to win another title as well. Earlier this year, Barrera parted ways with Golden Boy promotions to start up his own promotional company. Here’s to seeing another fight between these two Mexican warriors.

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