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Thursday, September 13, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Hall of Fame boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya says he may run for president.

“It’s real,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “That’s the beauty of our nation. If Arnold (Schwarzengger) can be governor, if Donald Trump can be president, then why can’t a Mexican American who won an Olympic gold medal, who’s over 35 and a U.S. citizen run for (the) presidency.


De La Hoya, 45, a world champion in six different weight classes over his 17-year professional career, may want to rethink this idea. He didn’t do very well when it came to voting in some big fights in his career.


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His fighter, though, Canelo Alvarez, who faces Gennady Golovkin Saturday night in a middleweight title unification pay-per-view bout, seemed to benefit tremendously from the election interference the first time they met a year ago, somehow escaping with a draw after most observers believed that Golovkin had won the decision.

In that first fight, one judge, Dave Moretti, scored the bout 115-113 in favor of Golovkin. But judge Don Trella scored the bout a draw — giving the seventh round to Alvarez even though it was Golovkin’s biggest round.

And then there was Adelaide Byrd, who must have some deep Russian connections, based on her voting – 118-112 in favor of Alvarez, resulting in a draw that delivered yet one more blow to the dying credibility of boxing.

Not long after, Alvarez tested positive for two performance-enhancing drugs and was suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission for six months, delaying the rematch.

I guess boxing isn’t that different from president elections.

De La Hoya is Alvarez’s promoter, and perhaps he felt his declaration for the presidency would help promote the fight. His story is that he can’t walk 10 feet down the street without someone begging him to run for president. “Millions and millions of people told me, ‘Oscar, why don’t you run for some kind of office, because you can make a difference,” De La Hoya said.

Millions and millions? I would love to see the crowd count at a De La Hoya inauguration.

Don King, on his most blustery day, wouldn’t have claimed that “millions and millions” of people wanted him to be president.

There was one day, though, 19 years ago this month, when De La Hoya lost perhaps the most important vote of his career, to King in one of the most historic welterweight showdowns in boxing history.

It was De La Hoya, the undefeated World Boxing Council welterweight champion, against King’s undefeated International Boxing Federation title holder, Felix Trinidad, in what was billed as the “Fight of the Millenial” and set a pay-per-view record for a non-heavyweight fight.

For nine rounds, De La Hoya dominated the bout and appeared on his way to a win. So his cornerman at the time, the veteran Gil Clancy, told De La Hoya to stay away from Trinidad and basically coast his way to the end of the fight.

Turns out the judges didn’t see it that way in their voting, and the fight was much closer than everyone thought – so much so that Trinidad winning the final 2 to 3 rounds wound up giving him a stunning majority decision.

It was politicking at its best — or worst.

It may have been worth it to see King enter the post-fight press conference bellowing “The lights are out in Arumville,” referring to De La Hoya’s promoter, Bob Arum, who had to be held back from lunging at King.

Despite the controversy, there was never a rematch — unlike the chance Alvarez, De La Hoya’s fighter, is getting Saturday night against Golovkin. But there may be just as much animosity between De La Hoya and Golovkin’s camp as there was between King and Arum.

This wasn’t the only big election De La Hoya lost – he would lose close decisions in two fights with Shane Mosley. Ironically, after the second fight it was revealed that Mosley, before the second fight with De La Hoya had been taking performance-enhancing drugs – the “cream and the clear,” Barry Bonds’ choice of cheating substances – during the BALCO Labs investigation.

Finally, near the end of his career, De La Hoya once again lost a close vote, this time a split decision to Floyd Mayweather, Jr., in 2007.

So De La Hoya may want to rethink those presidential aspirations. He will have enough on his hands keeping his fighter clean and upright when Alvarez steps in the ring against the hard-punching Golovkin Saturday night.

⦁ Thom Loverro’s podcast, “Cigars & Curveballs,” is available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver network.


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