By: Richie Guzman
It took 24 minutes to kill my childhood hero. At thirty-five, no longer in his prime, he knew it himself, it was over. Heading into that fight, Oscar De La Hoya was inconsistent with his performances, never really bouncing back into form after a brutal ninth round knockout by Bernard Hopkins in 2004. I was a fan; hanging on to memories of a once unstoppable boxer who still had the heart to fight, but his body just couldn’t keep up with the rigorous beating of today’s top fighters. After a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr fell through, De La Hoya decided to take on Manny Pacquiao who was beginning to enter his prime form. He knew that his career was coming to an end but he still believed that he could regain the form of the fighter he once was.
After his previous match with Mayweather, I knew that the sport was starting to decline in popularity. Not because of “fixed match” conspiracies or a lack of fighters, but for a lack of star power. Gone were the days where these men were giants colliding in the ring with more than just their gloves but with their egos, trash talking and boasting undefeated streaks. The amount of boxers that fans looked forward to watching fight was diminishing.
Growing up, boxing was what seemed to bring the family together. Every few months or so, as far back as I can remember, we had family and friends come over and gather around the television to watch the likes of Tito Trinidad, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Oscar De La Hoya and Sugar Ray Leonard. All of the males in my family were so enamored with the sport. Arguing and debating on who was truly the greatest of all time. As I grew older, the gatherings grew sparse. My cousins and uncles took a preference to UFC. My father’s interest in the sport dying with De La Hoya’s decline and last fight. I held on helplessly, growing to be a fan of Mayweather with dreams of being able to see Pacquiao get knocked out one day. (And dreams do come true!) But behind the shadows of these two remaining boxing giants, was an emerging star that lived deep in the undercards of these two big name fighters.
While the world was anxiously awaiting a clash between Mayweather and Pacquiao that never ended up happening, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was working his way up the ranks. At 42-0 at only the age of 23, a new “Main Event” fighter was on the scene. A new reason to watch boxing. This redheaded Mexican (no, really) was easily defeating every boxer thrown before him and proving that he was ready to take on Mayweather, the pound for pound king. When the fight was announced, I was ecstatic. After having to defend Mayweather time after time for allegedly “dodging” Pacquiao and for only being matched up with fighters either passed their prime or just simply random (I still don’t know who Robert Guerrero is), here was a fight that the fans really wanted to see. Two undefeated boxers with a 16 year age difference. Mayweather, the older one, dominant for 17 years and Canelo, boxing’s future, standing strong at only 23. I called my dad to see if he was interested in catching the fight and before I could even mention it, he extended an invitation for me to come over to watch it as his place.
I followed all the trash talking between the two in the weeks leading up to the fight. Watched them train during the All Access specials. I went back and watched Canelo’s last 5 fights to get a feel for his style against Mayweather’s. I was convinced that this may be the first time Mayweather would get challenged in the ring. At 36 years old, like De La Hoya before him, I surely thought his time would come to be on the decline. As a fan of his, I didn’t want to see him lose. But as a true fan of the sport, I really wanted to see him go toe to toe with someone to whom he was evenly matched; maybe even see a knockdown or two. What I was really hoping for, in all honesty, was about a new chapter in boxing. The new face of the sport defeating a 17 year champion in five different weight classes. I wanted to spread the word and bring converted UFC fans back to the sport they once loved, giving them hope that there is a new face of the sport who doesn’t care about money or putting on religious facades.
After 12 rounds of what seemed like a clinic on how to “out box your opponent”, Mayweather was once again victorious. Canelo never really stood a chance against him in any of the 12 rounds.
Instead, I am here to officially announce my retirement as a fan of the sport. You know the feeling you get when playing Street Fighter after beating the game with every single character? You’ve watched every single character’s end story, you’ve unlocked every secret character, you’re tired of beating your friends with Chun Li time after time. You say, “Well, now what?” That’s exactly how I feel. After the clinic Mayweather put on in the ring on Saturday night I am convinced that there is no such thing as a loss for him. And for that, I have no real reason to watch the sport anymore. Pacquiao has been knocked out (let’s see it one more time), Canelo virtually no showed against Mayweather, and well… he won’t ever lose. Everyone is wondering, well what’s next? A fight against Sergio Martinez? For what? Amir Khan? Maybe 2 years ago. Adrien Broner? I would rather see them just talk shit to each other.
He’s got three fights left in his deal with Showtime, all fights that no one really wants to see. At this point what does a fight against Manny Pacquiao mean for either fighter? And as for Manny, his upcoming fight against Brandon Rios has Pinoys everywhere excited as usual and everyone else asking “Who the hell is Brandon Rios?”
Some of you might be asking “Well what about the heavyweight division? That was always exciting!” Friends, that weight class died when Tyson took a bite out of Evander Holyfield’s ear. A show of hands if you can name someone else other than the Klitschko brothers who currently fight in the heavyweight division?
A better question, a show of hands if you care to watch any fighter in the Heavyweight class? Uh huh…
I promise you one thing: Mayweather and Pacquiao will fight one day and it will be both fighter’s last fight. There is too much money to be lost if they never meet in the ring and we both know that they want to settle the ongoing debate. They will both be way past their prime at this point and maybe won’t live up to its hype but it will shatter every boxing box office record known to man. This will be a match not for the fans, but for the promoters and the bookies. It might not even take place in Las Vegas. They might even make the fight in Manila just to make it a bigger spectacle. Few will truly care but everybody will watch.
Oh, and spoiler alert: Floyd Mayweather wins.