De La Hoya Still Up To His Old Tricks
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Your weekly random thoughts …
• When Oscar De La Hoya hired Freddie Roach to train him for last year's fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr., I quipped to one of my ringside colleagues that Roach had just landed the well-paid gig to serve as De La Hoya's future former trainer. Sure enough, the Golden Boy seems to have struck again, publicly declaring his desire to have Floyd Mayweather Sr., one of his many former trainers, return to his corner.
Changing trainers is certainly De La Hoya's prerogative. I have no issue with that. But it would be nice if once, just once, De La Hoya would actually tell the trainer he's about to replace before that trainer hears about it from the media, which is how Roach found out. Roach, one of the nicest guys in the business and one of the top trainers, deserved better. When I was in New York two weeks ago covering Roy Jones-Felix Trinidad, Roach was also there because one of his fighters, Roman Karmazin, was on the undercard. On the day of the fight, Roach asked me about his fate, which came the day after the news broke that De La Hoya planned to fight on May 3 and that he planned to have Mayweather train him again. De La Hoya should have just picked up the telephone and told Roach himself. What is so hard about that? But this is nothing new. To the best of my knowledge, none of De La Hoya's many former trainers, including Emanuel Steward, Mayweather Sr., Jesus Rivero, Robert Alcazar and Gil Clancy, ever heard their ultimate fate from the boss' mouth.
• Jones, fresh off his expected victory against Trinidad, is calling out De La Hoya at 166 pounds. How sporting of him. Never mind that De La Hoya has only fought twice as heavy as 160, and neither time with much success. He won a controversial decision against Felix Sturm in one of the most forgettable performances of his career and then was knocked out by a Bernard Hopkins body shot. I understand Jones is trolling for a big money fight, so maybe while he's at it he ought to call out Manny Pacquiao.
• On April 12, Showtime has a quality light heavyweight doubleheader with Chad Dawson defending his belt against former champ Glen Johnson and Clinton Woods defending his version of the title against Antonio Tarver, another former champ finally facing a live opponent after two nonsense fights on Showtime last year. It's just a shame that the card has to conflict with HBO's even better show on the same night, which boasts a pair of welterweight title bouts: Miguel Cotto vs. Alfonso Gomez and the rematch between Kermit Cintron and Antonio Margarito. Showtime has made a big deal in recent years about putting on its major cards on the first Saturday of each month but seems to be getting away from it more and more, including in April. Funny thing is, Showtime could have had Cintron-Margarito II (or Margarito vs. Zab Judah) but wasn't interested.
• Speaking of Cotto-Gomez and Cintron-Margarito II, how cool is it that if Cotto wins, he will face the winner of the other bout in July with a realistic possibility of it taking place at Yankee Stadium? If the fight winds up there, it will be a special night at the grand old ballpark. If promoted properly, with tickets priced to sell, and with good weather, I believe the fight could draw at least 35,000. Yankee Stadium was once the home to many major prizefights, but hasn't hosted one since Muhammad Ali retained the heavyweight championship in his third fight with Ken Norton on Sept. 28, 1976. With 2008 being the park's final season before the Yankees move into a new stadium, one last boxing event would be a tremendous tribute to a glorious piece of its storied history.
• I don't know about you, but I am having a very hard time making up my mind about who will win the March 15 Juan Manuel Marquez-Pacquiao rematch. But I can tell you that I am as psyched for it as any fight in recent memory. I was ringside for their first sensational battle in 2004, which was ruled a draw. I had Marquez winning 114-111, and that includes scoring the first round 10-6 for Pacquiao after he scored three knockdowns. The rematch figures to be another dramatic fight and a can't-miss pay-per-view.
• How about a little credit to one of the little guys? Happy 10th anniversary to promoter Dominic Pesoli's 8 Count Productions, which will celebrate the milestone Feb. 15 with a Telefutura-televised card at Cicero Stadium in the Chicago suburb of Cicero, Ill. Pesoli doesn't have the name recognition of Bob Arum or Don King (or their bank accounts), but he's done a tremendous job of practically single handedly keeping boxing alive in Chicago with monthly (and sometimes twice-monthly) cards. One of the reasons for Pesoli's success is a strong working relationship with Top Rank's Arum and Golden Boy Promotions, with whom he partners on his televised cards.
• Word out of Germany is that retired former super middleweight titleholder Sven Ottke is considering a comeback to face former light heavyweight champion Dariusz Michalczewski, another retired star eyeing a comeback. Ottke was a terrific technician and one of the few champions in boxing history to retire undefeated, although he notched at least a half dozen controversial decisions in his native Germany. But why would anyone want to see Ottke fight again? As I once wrote in USA Today: How do you spell boring in German? O-t-t-k-e.
• Wither Winky Wright. He's been out of action since losing to Hopkins last summer and there is nothing remotely on his table at the moment. And what about his fledgling promotional company, Winky Promotions? Haven't heard a peep out of that, either. So here's an idea that could kill two birds with one stone: Winky the promoter needs to get Winky the boxer a fight. The longer he goes without fighting, the more he fades from our consciousness.
• DVD pick of the week: There are a handful of fights in my collection for which I have been searching for an upgrade in recording quality. With the help of one my regular trading partners, this week I finally scored a stunningly sharp copy of the legendary Salvador Sanchez-Azumah Nelson featherweight championship fight. It renders my old blurry VHS copy irrelevant. What a pleasure to finally watch this fight in virtual broadcast quality. What a great fight, too. Sanchez was making his ninth defense against a then-unknown Nelson, who was just 13-0 at the time. But Nelson pushed Sanchez to the limit in an epic fight July 21, 1982 at Madison Square Garden. Ultimately, Sanchez stopped a tiring Nelson in the 15th round. Sadly, it was the last time Sanchez ever fought. While Nelson wouldn't lose again for eight years, would win the featherweight and junior lightweight championship and go to the Hall of Fame, Sanchez, posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame, died three weeks later in a car crash in Mexico. He was just 23. This fight, however, will live forever.