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“I’m Going to Ride The Wave For A Little While” – De La Hoya

Oscar De La HoyaBy Chris Williams: In news that will surely please a large segment of the boxing community while at the same time alienating just as many, Oscar De La Hoya (39-5, 30 KOs) announced that he will be continuing on with his career after his December 6th bout Manny Pacquiao, mentioning that he’d like to fight at least a couple of times beyond that before hanging up his gloves for good. No doubt De La Hoya’s decision was made easier by the fact that he’s looking at making huge killing in his next fight with the pint sized Pacquiao, a fighter much smaller than De La Hoya and not much of a threat to hurt him like most of the other top welterweights and light middleweights presently are.

With no shortage of smaller fighters, like Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton out there awaiting De La Hoya, he can probably last a lot longer than two more fights if that’s whom he’ll be fighting. De La Hoya recently said, “There’s no doubt about it. My mind can still do it, my body can still do it.” That may be true, but it’s doubtful that his aging body could do it against a top fighter of his own size rather than much smaller fighters like Hatton and Pacquiao being served up to him. De La Hoya has struggled against fighters his own size, losing three out of his last six fights.

Of his three wins, a dubious 12-round decision over Felix Sturm in June 2004, could very well be considered a loss as well, meaning that De La Hoya has won only two of his last six fights with the only two wins coming against Ricardo Mayorga and the smallish Steve Forbes.

De La Hoya may not be interested in retiring at this moment, but just because he’s getting people interested in watching him fight opponents much smaller than him like Pacquiao, Hatton and Forbes, doesn’t mean that he’s a top level fighter anymore. Indeed, he’d probably be lucky to get by a bottom rung welterweight or light middleweight at this point given his age and activity level in the past four years. I’d like nothing better than to see De La Hoya in against someone like Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, Vernon Forrest, Andre Berto or Paul Williams, but the likelihood of that ever happening is remote at best.

In other words, don’t hold your breath waiting for De La Hoya to fight someone his own side, for he’s not likely going to be doing that for the remainder of his career, unless he’s fighting someone like Felix Trinidad or possibly Shane Mosley. I see both of those fighters as being held in reserve by De La Hoya, to be used at the very tail end of his career. I don’t see De La Hoya fighting either of them in the next three bouts. Instead, he’ll go after Hatton immediately after the Pacquiao bout, and then look at either a rematch with Pacquiao or possibly Floyd Mayweather Jr., if he can lure him out of retirement.

With the kind of money De La Hoya will be making against the 5’6” Pacquiao, which will be the second biggest PPV attraction ever, who can blame De La Hoya for wanting to take the easy money against a small fighter like the Filipino star. If the fans want to see it, why not give them what they want? Like politics, most people don’t have a clue about boxing, and probably won’t mind who De La Hoya fights as long as he shows up. His name is what sells, and this is why he can continue being a huge box office draw long after he’s stopped fighting the top opponents in his weight class.

It’s similar to a good job resume, which allows a person to get one job after another, even though there skills may no longer be sharp and up to date. “I’m Going to Ride The Wave For A Little While,” De La Hoya said recently, possibly knowing probably that he can get prolong his career almost infinitely if he continues facing smaller guys like Pacquiao or Hatton. Of course, the well will eventually run dry when he exhausts his opponents, and unless he’s willing to fight them over and over again, we may see him either have to get out of the sport, take on older opponents like Mosley or Trinidad, or step up and take an almost certain beating from the likes of Williams, Cotto or Margarito.

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