Trending on just about every major fight publication is news about former superstar and current boxing promoter Oscar De La Hoya issuing a letter in Playboy Magazine yesterday criticizing the career of Floyd Mayweather Jr. In an obvious form of satire, De La Hoya presents the letter as a "fond farewell", but goes through to dismantle the former pound-for-pound champ. Excerpts like the following, however, give an overall tone of pettiness:
"Let's face it: You were boring. Just take a look at your most recent performance, your last hurrah in the ring, a 12-round decision against Andre Berto. How to describe it? A bust? A disaster? A snooze fest? An affair so one-sided that on one judge's card Berto didn't win a single round? Everyone in boxing knew Berto didn't have a chance. I think more people watched Family Guy reruns that night than tuned in to that pay-per-view bout. But I didn't mind shelling out $75 for the HD broadcast. In fact it's been a great investment. When my kids have trouble falling asleep, I don't have to read to them anymore. I just play them your Berto fight. They don't make it past round three."
Mayweather's last fight certainly wasn't the most enticing challenge, and the bout was more or less a glorified sparring session, but to write about it in that manner, and publish it on a public forum makes you kind of want to ask De La Hoya, "Why?" Furthermore, when he goes through to dissect Mayweather's career, his memory becomes fairly selective.
"You spent 2000 to 2010 facing forgettable opening acts like Victoriano Sosa, Phillip N'dou, DeMarcus Corley, Henry Bruseles and Sharmba Mitchell. There were guys out there—tough scary opponents like Antonio Margarito and Paul Williams—but you ran from them. Were you ever on the track team in high school? You would have been a star."
What De La Hoya forgets to mention is that in that decade, Mayweather also fought an undefeated Diego Corrales, a tough Jose Luis Castillo and none other than De La Hoya himself. Corley and Bruseles were both tune-up matches for his 140-lb title fight against Arturo Gatti, and Sharmba Mitchell was a prep match for a potential showdown against then undisputed welterweight champion Zab Judah. Judah lost before the two met in the ring, but to put matters to rest, Mayweather first beat Judah, then later scored a lop-sided decision over Zab's conqueror, Carlos Baldomir, to win the lineal welterweight championship, as strange as that sounds. Margarito and Williams would have been formidable opponents at welterweight for Mayweather, however, and while I favor "Money" over both fighters, there's a difference between speculation and an actual fight outcome, so Oscar has a point there.
On that note, De La Hoya does also say what is on the mind of many fight fans. Mayweather's fight against Manny Pacquiao did come five years too late and was, for the most part, a huge letdown. He goes on further to bring up the valid point about how losing six times built his character and how unlike Mayweather, he sought tougher challenges after the setbacks. This is a sentiment boxing could adopt in general. Too much weight is placed on a fighter's loss column, and Mayweather setting tone by constantly using his undefeated record as both a justification for being "the greatest" and discrediting legitimate challenges, held the sport back.
De La Hoya is probably correct in saying that boxing will most likely not miss Floyd Mayweather Jr., and I'm glad that someone with a pugilistic authority came to point out the things he pointed out. But writing letters like this also keeps Mayweather relevant in the media, and if you truly want to stop thinking about a person, you gotta stop talking about them too.