There are still oceans among us who remember where we were and what we were doing that November day in 1991 when basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson made his tragic declaration to the world that he had to retire from the game.
Some time passed, yet one of the best point guards to ever hit the hardwood missed the squeaking of hoop sneakers and the swishing sound of the net and he came back to play a few more games for the Los Angeles Lakers five years later at the age of 36.
In many ways, he found that the game had changed quite a bit, and so was he. His speed and power were not at the same levels as they were when he battled with Larry Bird for NBA supremacy back in the mid 1980’s.
The cunningness was still present as it is for many within the realm of sports, as such a trait is among the last ones to go.
His stint as a head coach for the Lakers, though, didn’t work out very well. He even lost his cool in a game and forcibly bumped a referee. Magic finally walked away and perhaps knew that it was no longer his time. In the passing years, the former Michigan State Spartan and the conductor behind “Showtime” at the LA Forum was honored with a statue of himself outside of the Lakers’ current home court, the Staples Center.
Another all time great, albeit of another sporting discipline was also fortunate enough to receive such an accolade. Not far from Magic’s statue is one of the “Golden Boy,” Oscar De La Hoya, who retired more than five years ago. He’s since been inducted into the hallowed ranks of the Pro Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. Eleven world titles across six weight classes as well as an Olympic gold medal are among the honors he has to his name. These days, he’s at the head of one of the most successful boxing promotional companies over the last decade or more. Oscar has done well for himself, indeed. There can be no confusion in regard to that fact.
The last time we saw the “Golden Boy” in a ring, as an active boxer, was in December 2008. It was a sad night to watch for many fans. HBO’s Jim Lampley may have said it best that evening in regard to describing just how much damage Manny Pacquiao was doing to the future Hall of Fame fighter from East Los Angeles.
“Manny Pacquiao is slowly reconfiguring Oscar’s beautiful face,” said Lampley.
Oscar wisely called it a career. What a career it was. Over the last twenty years, give or take, many fight fans who were among those who attended a De La Hoya bout would profess that there was nothing quite like it. Whether it was a case of the festive atmosphere, the thrill of attending a high profile bout or for many of the guys in the house, the bevy of women, an Oscar fight was the place to be.
In the end, he retired for the right reasons and at the right time. There were not many dissenting voices in regard to his decision. Hopefully, various media outlets have confused the current month of June with the passed month of April, as in April 1st. De la Hoya is now forty two years old and as previously mentioned, has not fought in nearly seven years. In the time since his retirement, he’s been brave enough to admit and seek treatment for various personal issues and the like. At the same time, no one among us could really blame him for missing the limelight and the competitive spirit of the sport. Please, for the sake of sound mind, allow the growing media reports that Oscar is considering a comeback be as erroneous as George Foreman fighting Larry Holmes.
Furthermore, should he choose to do so, then at the very least he may want to consider testing the waters a bit. Certain suggestions have been made that he make his return to the ring across from such names as Gennady Golovkin or even a rematch with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. It’s a bit of a stretch, as in astronomical, to feasibly see either bout being fair or even entertaining. He had his chance back in May 2007 to dethrone Mayweather and he in fact, he came very, very close to doing so. Per the ringside judges and their respective scorecards, the “Golden Boy” was but one point off from a majority draw with “Money” Mayweather.
However, that was then and this is really and truly now. Parallels cannot be drawn to the comeback that the great Sugar Ray Leonard made in the late 1980’s. He saw something in Marvelous Marvin Hagler that he felt he could exploit as he watched the man from Brockton, Massachusetts tromp and trudge away against John “The Beast” Mugabi in the spring of 1986. Ray decided that he could top the marvelous one and so he put the wheels in motion and one year later, he pulled off the upset win which is still debated to this very day. The result it not the point as much as the fact that he was 28 years old when he accomplished the feat.
In terms of who the opponent will be for Floyd Mayweather should he actually retire after his swan song bout this September, then perhaps a rematch with Oscar would make some feasible sense. If Floyd has been accused of cherrypicking in the past, then this would go beyond a fruit as minuscule as a cherry. Now, we’re talking cantaloupes. What could we possibly ask of Mayweather? He faced Manny Pacquiao and effectively shut him down a few months ago. Other names are floating around, yet a renewal of his ring rivalry with De La Hoya would not be worthy of the tagline, “The World Awaits” as it did eight very long years ago. “The World Detatched” would perhaps be more accurate.
As far as a potential meeting with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin is concerned, then some may ask for Amnesty International to step in. No. Just no. His time has passed and we cannot thank him enough for the contributions that he has made and continues to make to the sport of boxing. He’s a legend. The sunset is yours, Oscar. Please continue to see it as such.
Who are we, you may ask, to judge anyone’s desire to take a stab at what they love? Who are we to tell him that he can’t or shouldn’t do it? Fair enough, but who are we to pay to see it? Can we foresee the man from East LA headlining a “Premier Boxing Champions” card on network television? Who’s delusional now?