Monday, May 7, 2007

Golden Boy vs. Pretty Boy

De La Hoya...Mayweather...De La Hoya...Mayweather...

It was one of the biggest title fights since Lennox Lewis battled Evander Holyfield; it was hailed to be the dream fight to save boxing; and it fell short of all the hype.

This weekend I had the opportunity to watch the greatly anticipated Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. match. As somewhat of a boxing fan, I had my own expectations for the fight. Like most, I really was hoping that the match would be one for the ages. I can remember watching De La Hoya's earlier career fights against greats like Julio Cesar Chavez and Felix Trinidad. I would sit right in front of the tv and hope the bout would turn into a Rocky-like drama with both fighters struggling to go one more round. I couldn't help but let myself believe I'd actually get to see one last great fight from the champ. But like most, I was disappointed.

As each round went by you could sense the lack of tenacity in each fighter. In fact, in some of those rounds each fighter had thrown only 30 punches. By the sixth round, the mediocrity of the bout had sunk in. There was hardly any struggle until maybe the last the ten seconds of round 12. By the time the final bell rang, both fighters still had the same baby faces they had when they stepped into the ring.

The spectacle, however overhyped and overrated it turned out to be (perhaps for that very reason), reminded me very much of a wrestling match. The show's similarity to wrestling was made especially clear as each fighter approached the ring. Mayweather,the heel of the two, made his way to the center of the arena sporting the colors of the Mexican flag on his trunks and wearing a sparkling sombrero. It was an obvious cheap shot against the self-proclaimed Golden Boy of boxing and the kind of act we see time and time again in the world of wrestling.

De La Hoya walked in to the usual sound of trumpets and traditional Mexican music. Who and what he represents as a well-known Mexican-American fighter has always been clear. Mayweather knew what he was doing when he stepped into the arena. With 90% of the arena chanting "Oscar, Oscar, Oscar" he was not going to deny he was the heel; he simply ran with it.

The fight, like a well-planned wrestling match up, had the makings of a good drama. Each fighter had his own form of pageantry, they were well polarized opponents, Mayweather had even made it "personal" by allegedly insulting De La Hoya's family. The stage was set, perhaps a little too well, for an historic fight. But unlike a successful wrestling main event, the hype does not gurantee a good show. In fact, it is almost always too much to live up to. You simply can't predict exactly how a match will unfold in boxing.

Despite the lackluster performance by De La Hoya and Mayweather, I still couldn't say that I would have rather watched a wrestling PPV event. That's just how big time competitive sports go. You can only cheer for your favorite side and hope you're watching history in the making. Just ask a fan of the Goldenstate Warriors.


Anonymous said...

I've maybe seen a handful of boxing matches, and didn't realy notice the pageantry such as you described. The question here is whether the taunting and pageantry is taken from the popularity of pro wrestling, or has it always been that way in boxing, and as such did the two genres of athletic entertainment influence each other? At the same time, is this taunting supposed to be real? Is this 'real' in ring psychology, screwing with the other figher's head by insulting his family? Or is it all a show? I suspect that most of it is, but I don't think any boxing promoter would actually admit it, since boxing is 'real', and wrestling is 'fake'....

Ismael said...

I also thought it paralleled a wrestling match. The crowd definitely favored one fighter over the other. I think Mayweather was trying to get into De La Hoya's head by mocking him with his outfit. I also thought that the way the camera would focus in on Oscar's wife during the fight was simliar to the way the WWE would show Bret Hart's sister during his fight against the British Bulldog or when Elizabeth would be shown during a Macho Man match. In all these cases, these women are able to tell a story within the story.