A fabulous insight into the life and trials of Oscar De La Hoya courtesy of Sky Sports’ excellent Ringside magazine show. Oscar is an inspiration in the sport and its fascinating to hear how he views his career and what kept him on the right path during his reign as boxing’s “Golden Boy”.
Boxing superstars don’t come much better than Manny Pacquiao, and there is no finer place to see why than in American television giant HBO’s latest highlight selection – see Hatton, De le Hoya and Cotto amongst others defeated by force of nature that is Pacman.
It seems a lifetime ago since the Puerto Rico boxer Miguel Angel Cotto campaigned at light-welterweight. There has been many a tough fight for Cotto since then, Cotto has consistently been in the most exciting, brutal and most competitive fights in boxing’s hardest divisions. His roll call of opponents is second to none – Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito and Zab Judah to name but a few. There have been brutal wars, fights with controversy, fights with drama, bloodshed, but at all times its been exciting.
Cotto had a lot to live up to right from the start – for a boxer hailing from Puerto Rico you have to not only face your opponent across the ring, you have to face the legends that have gone before you – Wilfredo Gomez and Felix Trinidad and many more are icons of the fight game in Puerto Rico, where boxing is the national sport. Trinidad’s departure from the limelight just as Cotto began to emerge as a force on the world stage didn’t make it easy for this future 2 time world champion to shine. Cotto could be awkward at times – not always effusive in interviews, here was a fighter that truly preferred to let his fists do the talking. For a public used to the quick smile of Trinidad, that was a slow journey to take Cotto into their hearts in the same way. Cotto has only really emerged as a superstar from his appearances in HBO’s wonderful 24/7 documentary for his fight with Pacquiao.
Despite his later popularity Cotto has often found himself in tough spots throughout his career. Antonio Margarito inflicted a terrible beating on Cotto in their fight – this at the time seemed to shatter the image of the indestructible Cotto. However in his next fight Margarito was caught with illegal padding (plaster of paris lumps) on his hands, suddenly Cotto’s loss was forgiven. In that fight Cotto had led the scorecards in the first half of the fight, before Margarito’s seemingly enormous strength disfigured Cotto to the point where he took a knee in submission. Taking that knee in submission is a damaging thing in boxing. Suddenly Cotto found himself vindicated – if muted – Top Rank his promotional company also promote Margarito so he was unlikely to publically discredit his stablemate even after Margarito was suspended for a year.
Enter in the era of Cotto the wronged fighter, tainted after Margarito’s beating, excussed but still potentially damaged goods. Cotto did what he’s done all along – take another tough fight and keep on keeping on. Enter fighters like Shane Mosley, fighters still at a peak of sorts and universally avoided by most other fighters. Cotto took him on, walked through fire and came out with a decision victory. It wasnt a walk in the park though. He took easier nights later against trumped-up Contender winner Alfredo Gomez and others but he kept on fighting. Then came Pacquiao.
Cotto at the weigh in for his fight with Manny Pacquiao
Pacquiao brings the mega-fight. He brings HBO money too. Cotto was competitive at first despite being robbed of raining champions right to have the fight at his weight and having his belt on the line. It was clear that Pacquiao was calling the shots – demands of $1 million for every pound that Cotto came in over the agreed weight was publicied when the deal was signed. Boiled down to 145 pounds (welterweight being 147) Cotto somehow looked the smaller man to Pacquiao and as the rounds went by he began to be broken down by the sheer aggressive brilliance of Pacquiao. On the way to be stopped on a TKO defeat in the 12th round Cotto showed plenty of guts, he didn’t quit but he took a beating.
His next fight against Yuri Foreman is up a weight at 154 pounds – super welterweight, so the assumption inside the Cotto camp must be that he can’t boil down to the same fighter at welterweight or below. Foreman is a WBA world champion and regarded as an awkward customer. He has never been in a war though, doesn’t have a career of competitive tough fights against him. Will years of the experience be Cotto’s edge or his undoing? We will find out on June 6th when Cotto Foreman collide at Yankee Stadium.
Having been born above a boxing gym in Tijuana Mexico and boxing from the age of 5, it would never be easy for Erik “El Terrible” Morales to walk away from boxing.
On March 27th Morales will end his two and a half-year retirement and make his long rumored return to the ring. It’s a comeback that begs the question why? How much does Morales have left to prove after his part in two of the best trilogies in boxing history – against Manny Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera? Without another paid punch in his life he would surely be a guaranteed fixture in the boxing hall of fame.
The prospect of possibly being the only Mexican fighter to win a world title in four separate weight classes is definitely a temptation. Morales old rival Barrera has already had his ambitions on that crusade cruelly stopped by Britain’s chinny wonder Amir Khan. A fourth fight with the worlds pound for pound best boxer Manny Pacquiao (not to mention the millions of dollars that would come with such a fight) must also appeal. Morales is after all one of the few fighters out there to comprehensively beat Pacquiao – in their first fight, so maybe he thinks he knows something Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton dont?
Could a fourth fight ever happen?
So it seems there are many question marks over El Terrible – not least the weight he has had to shift to get down to 147 pounds.
I hope he succeeds and isn’t annihilated by a far lesser opponent than deserves a win against such a boxing great, but the jury is definitely out on whether he can bring back the glory days once more.
For now lets remember him in his prime – in what HBO has rightly included as one of their ‘Fights of the Decade’ – here in his first of three amazing fights against his bitter Mexican rival Marco Antonio Barrera:
It’s easy to write off someone as wildly entertaining as Ricardo Mayorga as a sideshow in boxing – mad, bad, trash talking ‘El Matador’ is everything but ordinary.
To write him off would be to ignore the pedigree of the opposition he has faced – Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad and Fernando Vargas to name but a handful. At his finest the Nicaraguan bad boy Mayorga was throw back to the good old days of real fighters, taking on everything with scant regard for manners and rules.
There are many enjoyable highlights from Mayorga’s career – frequent press conference brawls, childish taunting of his opponents (see below video of his exchange with Vargas), a habit of letting fighters take clean open shots on his head in pure macho demonstration of his strength! His heavy smoking – while training goes against every tenant of boxing fitness but somehow Mayorga made it part of his persona.
Mayorga will probably be remembered for his losses to truly great fighters and his defection to the Mixed Martial Arts as a fringe contender there. His boxing style was certainly not the sweet science in action – he was a pure street fighting brawler, windmilling punches and hoping for the best. He was enjoyable to watch though and you always knew there would be a proper tear up if he was fighting and for that we should salute his contribution to boxing!