Thoughts at end of the 2017 year… and BJS wins over Lemieux

I decided to write today because I was able to catch the replay of Billy Joe Saunders’ impressive win over David Lemieux. This was a fight that I am really grateful came the way it it did to close out an impressive year of fights (sorry Naoye, it’s not like your Dec 30 fight was put there for you to lose 😏) but also highlights some of the repeating sins of boxing. Really makes me reflect on the rebounding health of the sport despite the way boxing industry and audiences wants to ruin things sometimes.

This time of year always makes me want to reflect on boxing’s highlights and this was a big one, a very welcome reflection given a very tough year for America in particular. Boxing’s global platform really helped distract me this year and there’s so much to look back and remember about boxing’s great moments of the year.


This past April was arguably the best moment to talk about Boxing 2017, when Anthony Joshua took over the throne from Wladmir Klitschko. Bravery, grit, determination was not only on the pay-per-view screen, but bubbling in my soul as the 11th round started and ended with Joshua’s fist raised. The UK’s cup poureth over, and it wasn’t hard for me to bandwagon and look over the pond to enjoy the new heavyweight champ’s coronation. The respect between the two fighters afterward is what the sport is all about, and to me the undisputed fight of the year as we’re still reeling over the greatness of this fight.


After that in May, Andre Ward put away Kovalev again in a rematch that made me really believe in the spirit of old school boxing. Ward doesn’t fight with anger but with grace. He doesn’t respond in spite, but with determination. He doesn’t doubt his preparation, and fears no man. This is old-school boxing, and the fact that Kovalev, a boxer that at the first fight I was definitely backing, did not recognize or respect these truths really disappointed me. Andre retired after this fight which inflamed Kovalev even more. The actions and words of Andre’s opponent really put a blemish on this fight but can’t deny that the rematch really made a mark on my 2017.


The last fight that I think made a mark on my 2017 was September 16th’s Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez. A true gift to the fans and it didn’t disappoint. Gennady’s trademark focus and grit went to another impossibly high level and Canelo also prepared for us a new level of slickness and art, but could not move the Kazakh Mountain. Bored commentators wanted to see signs of GGG’s aging or tried to unnecessarily elevate Canelo’s slickness, but all they did was ruin the fight. What this fight did to me was firstly, welcome Canelo into the stacked middleweight class, and cement GGG’s growing legacy.


I want to offer some consolation too for a fight that also left a mark on my 2017 but for a different, more somber reason. Nobody died, but the media certainly made it feel like it was so, because on the same date above, the darling of the super flyweights, Roman Gonzales was stopped by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The distance Roman fell because of this fight seemed insurmountable, and I was confused. Why were we ignoring the massive amount of wins this man had given us in previous years? Why can’t we just watch him bounce back in his next fight? He lost one fight, and yet to boxing media, his career is post mortum.

This is what I meant about the repeating sins of boxing industry and the boxing audiences. The boxing sport has two sides, two very different sides that must co-exist peacefully for an audience to truly appreciate the sacrifices our heroes, our fighters must go through to fight in the world stage. Boxing is a sport that is primal and can be rudimentary, sure, but that’s only an easily interpretable gateway to a sport that is rich with history and emotion. It really is like dancing to me, an art that you can just appreciate on the surface and deep in its soul simultaneously. We really shouldn’t turn our back to fighters that have lost, we should celebrate their fights and encourage their return or celebrate whatever else they would want to do.


Billy Joe Saunders vaulted into the elite of the middleweights last night with 12 rounds of old-school, UK-boxing that sets the end of the year and gives Canelo something to think about. Another sin of Boxing being that the darlings of the sport today treat fight announcements like album releases (Co-founder Rudy Mondragon and I call it the Fuckboi-effect) and consequently their careers like rap-labels. That’s why it was refreshing for BJS to come in the ring with confidence overflowing, disregarding Lemieux’s now tired intimidation tactics to embarrass him for 12 rounds and what could’ve been 15, if they would let Saunders fight it. This fight might be a footnote for a stacked 2017 year but its a fight that really preps me for 2018.

Canelo is taking his sweet time as De La Hoya’s darling after the embarrassment of announcing his fight with GGG right after skipping rope with Chavez Jr. who just showed up for a paycheck. He had already called out the winner of BJS and Lemieux unnecessarily so he can wait for GGG’s senility to give him a win late 2018. The way BJS fought last night? I really hope De La Hoya and Canelo’s plans get severely ruined in 2018. As for BJS, I hope his evolution continues as he’s going to need it for his rise in 2018.

This year I want to thank my 2017 Boxing tastemakers who will undoubtedly continue to be the visionaries of boxing for 2018: co-founder Rudolfo Mondragon, BBC Boxing, SundayPuncher, LeeWylie, Reznick, OfficeHanchoBoxing, Sweetfights, Lalosboxing, Boxingego, and the rest of the awesome “You-don’t-know-shit-about-boxing” community. It’s going to be hard to top 2017 but man, you know I can’t wait for it.

Very Superstitious


Boxing is underrated as a superstition sport. At the limit, all sports can elicit a sense of religion when it comes to game time, with the players and the audience having rituals to ensure a fortunate outcome, if at least peace of mind.

Boxing is 99% preparation, with that last 1% being the Gods of Chaos. Consistency, albeit not being overtly rewarded, is actually the sign of a great boxer, trainer, or boxing team, implementing a game plan repeatedly despite a varied opposition. Nacho Beristein trained Ricardo “Finito” Lopez to 51-0-1 and retired undefeated. As he was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2006, he wouldn’t name his prospects not of secrecy but of superstition of his luck finally running out with his fighters. Fierce consistency is the name of the game, fighting against the Gods of Chaos is what these fighters do day in and day out, despite a fight date and the drama that can unfold.

The media however, has other plans. The Mayweather and McGregor fight this weekend is a mismatch by all accounts, but it does in the end find its way to worm in the superstition factor. 50-0 is a lot of fights to go undefeated…McGregor is a self-proclaimed God of Chaos if any boxer could try to pin a moniker on an opponent like Conor. Mayweather has seen a lot, but has he seen everything? Does McGregor have any secrets to his advantage?

Mayweather has too many advantages. He’s arguably old school as old school comes, with a clean bill of health backing his religious and intensive training regimen that perhaps never took a break despite his retirement. But he’s grown up under the lights that shined for 3 more championship rounds. He’s grown up seeing the Iron Mike do the impossible, and what more, Holyfield having the mettle to stay a professional and keep going despite the ear-bite.

Maybe McGregor has to venture into ear-bite territory to try to fluster the master. Maybe something else will happen completely. But to overcome a mountain of miles, rounds, within the rules of boxing? Near impossible in my view.

But of course BMB family is going to be the contrarian for this weekend’s fight night. We’re just here to help folks enjoy boxing. Here’s hoping that Mayweather could show us the way, and honestly the BEST case scenario is that we have a new welterweight to shake shit up. It would be awesome if McGregor could move to boxing full time, he certainly has the talent, and with a boxing stamina, he could be the God of Chaos we need in boxing.

The Case for Chavez Jr.

Special thanks to Hip Hop Artist Speak! AKA Speaky Maidana, an avid boxing fan, for his contribution to this article.

We’re only a few days away from the “Cinco de Mayo Weekend” bout between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and the media machine that is Golden Boy Boxing promotions has been pumping out sound bites and statements to give it a more enticing element to what some consider to be a one-sided fight. Golden Boy’s Canelo Alvarez has been keeping busy calling Jr. a ‘little kid’, playing mind games that he isn’t usually known for.  He’s the favored boxer, in many aspects, and is boasting about being the ‘A’ side of the fight.  He holds the Vegas odds in his favor, has a larger fan base, and is arguably the reigning ‘Mexican People’s Champion’.  This bout seems to be a pit stop for Canelo, a warm up, before he takes on Gennady Golovkin, the man no one seems to want to box.

In the timeline of Mexican boxing, anything that occurred before Julio Cesar Chavez can be thought of as exactly that, BC. Since then, there have been many Mexican boxers that have raised their glove, and said, “I’m next”.  Marco Antonio Barrera.  Erik “Terrible” Morales.  Juan Manuel Marquez.  Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.  Another of those who raised their glove was the Mexican superstar’s namesake, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.   Along with his brother Omar, both young men decided to follow in their father’s footsteps.  As Paul Navarro breaks down in his article Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and the Burden of Legacy, “Growing up in the shadow of greatness is a burden known to very few.  Growing up in the shadow of the greatest Mexican fighter to ever live is a burden known to even fewer, and a burden that none can realistically hope to live up to.” This has been the story of Julio Cezar Chavez Jr. throughout his career.

Much like the Jordan brothers did in basketball, the Chavez brothers had very big shoes to fill. It’s not uncommon to find father and son professional athlete legacies, but it’s quite another to see an heir be able to live up to a father that is arguably the very best in their respective sports.  On that note, I don’t envy soccer star Lionel Messi’s sons, Mateo and Thiago, as they will undoubtedly be scrutinized from the very first time they kick a ball in any competitive match.  Chavez Jr. is no exception to this rule.  He and his father have always had a tumultuous relationship.  In an interview with Showtime, Chavez Jr. would recall how his father, at that time battling substance abuse, would pay street kids to fight/box his sons in a makeshift ring.  Chavez Sr. was near the tail end of his career, his biggest fight being that of substance abuse and past demons, one that he was losing.  Initially, he said he did not want his son’s to follow his footsteps.  They had everything they ever needed, living a lifestyle that their father never had growing up in a working class family in Sinaloa.  Most people didn’t take Chavez Jr. serious about wanting to follow his father’s footsteps.

“Chavez has always been perceived as an entitled brat with a famous last name…” – Speak!

And yet, Chavez went at it. He has had a respectable career by most standards, but has been a complete washout in comparison to his father, the standard bearer in Mexican boxing.  He has stated that, at different points in his career, people didn’t believe in him, even members of his immediate family.  That has been part of his motivation to box, to win, and to prove the doubters wrong.  But, as his father did before him, he also fell for many of life’s temptations and vices.  He has had various incidents with alcohol and marijuana, as well as constant accusations from various trainers for his lack of discipline.  His inability to make weight for bouts has cost him in the past, and the times he’s made weight, he has looked drained and lost power.  It seems like everything is stacked against Chavez.

“You can’t fake power or having a sturdy chin, and Chavez has a world-class beard.” – Speak!

On the opposite side of the ring is the current WBO light middleweight champion, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Canelo is the youngest of the Alvarez brothers, all professional boxers.  His background is more in tune with what most working class Mexican’s can relate to.  He grew up in a farm to a humble family, moving to the city in his youth.  While he didn’t live in poverty, he didn’t have it as easy as the Chavez family.  He was bullied as a child for his red hair and has stated that was one big motivator for him joining his brothers in the ring.  Another thing that can’t be disputed is his popularity.  For context, Mexico’s most followed sport is soccer.  During the 2012 Olympic Soccer final of Mexico v Brazil, Televisa reported 19 million viewers.  Canelo Alvarez pulled 26 million viewers in his bout against Shane Mosley.

 “Canelo’s best wins are over an old Cotto and a much smaller Khan.” – Speak!

As Golden Boy’s “Golden Boy”, Canelo has had his bouts selected to maximize profit and limit risk. He famously vacated the WBC belt only a year ago because he did not want to fight GGG as promised.  It would seem that De la Hoya’s team learned a lot from his defeat to Money Mayweather in 2013 and have since taken an ever cautious, and irritating, approach to setting Canelo up for fights he can clearly win.

It looks like a tall order for Chavez Jr. to compete, let alone defeat Canelo. But, he has a special game plan for victory, crafted by the legendary trainer Nacho Beristain. Nacho has stated that he wants Chavez Jr. to stick to his game plan and not get into a slugging match.  He’s convinced that, with his guidance, Chavez can rock Canelo and get an upset.  His main concern is that Chavez Jr. will come at Canelo face-on and get into a slugging match.  The common belief is that, other than by way of knock-out, the heavily favored Canelo Alvarez would likely win if it goes to the cards.

An overconfident champion. An underdog with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Who else has seen this story before? Sports are built for upsets, and this is the perfect situation to get the most out of Chavez Jr., with his father recently saying, “It’s going to be a tough fight.  Both of them are going to go neck and neck… however I know how Junior prepares – his discipline and his mentality – will decide how he wins the fight.”

Chavez Jr. will never match his father. He’s had some good fight against stiff competition, but he never dominated the sport the way his father has.  Given that he’s already expected to lose, there’s nowhere to go but up.  It’s his day, his time, and only he knows if he’s going to take his shot and show the world he’s worthy of the Chavez name.  I’ll leave you with one last thought, which best summarizes what a Chavez win would symbolize:

“IF Chavez can focus and get his weight under control, he can pull off an upset. It’s a huge chance to change the public’s opinion of him and wave the flag as Mexico’s top fighter, which means more than any world title.” – Speak!


Angel Garcia: Boxing in the Era of Trump

By Rudy MondragĂłn
Twitter: @boxingintellect

The January 18 press conference for the highly anticipated March 4 showdown between Keith “One Time” Thurman and Danny “Swift” Garcia showed how Trumpism is seeping into the bloodstream of the sweet science. Politics is indeed not separate from the sporting world.

At the press conference, Angel Garica, father and trainer of Danny Garcia, took over by engaging in trash talking and mental warfare against Thurman. This is part of the game. Danny Garcia is not the trash talking type, he does his talking in the ring and often presents himself as a professional in front of the media. This might be why his father does so much of the trash talking, knowing well that it creates a drama that helps promote the spectacle of boxing.


What took place at the press conference was Trumpism rearing its disgusting faces of anti-immigration, jingoism (hyper-patriotism), and sexism. Notice I did not use racism, although that is an additional facet of Trumpism. Many media figures are quick to say that Angel’s use of the N-word (See video below) was a disgusting example of racism. I disagree as the media has not substantially explained why it is an example of racism. For them, it is simply a headline.

Angel’s use of the N-word is more so an example of a light skinned Puerto Rican man from North Philly who has more than likely used the N-word within a cultural context of understanding. For many people I have spoken to over the years, the use of the N-word by Latino peoples is used with an understanding that the word holds a great deal of historical weight. The use of that word is directed at people where mutual love exists. Some have even told me that the word is only used towards people they would be willing to die for and kill for. In other words, the N-word, used within a cultural context of mutual love, understanding, and respect, has a totally different meaning than Angel’s use of it at the press conference.

This is not to say that I excuse Angel’s use of it. Using the word outside its cultural context opens up the meaning of the word for many interpretations, racism being one of them. But its more complex than that. The tone and intention of the way Angel used it was not racist. But his use of it in public promotes a misunderstanding and disregard of the historical use of a word that has been used by white men with racial and economic power during slavery for example. A word that has been historically used as a tool to stigmatize and negatively label black people in relation to white people and white supremacy. It also signals to people that the N-word can be used irresponsibly, ignoring the dark legacy of the word.

Angel’s use of the word in public also impacts and offends black people who do not have a personal connection to the user of the word. Though Angel’s use of the word was not intended to hurt anyone, the impact of that word, outside its cultural context, can have offensive affects on people. That is how powerful that word remains today. I would bet money that Angel would not use that word in a completely new setting with black folks he did not know. The reason for this is it is outside of his cultural context, involving new people that he does not know. The use of the N-word in that new context would be a form of disrespect because there is no mutual bond or connection to the people of that cultural space.

Although I say his use of the N-word was not intended to disrespect Keith Thurman (I would argue “Bitch ass” and “My son gonna fuck you up” intended to disrespect and challenge Keith), a question still remains to be answered. As a bi-racial man who is read as black, what impact did Angel’s use of the N-word have on Keith Thurman? This is an important dynamic that has not been explored.

Trumpism reared its nasty faces in the form of anti-immigration, jingoism (hyper-patriotism), and sexism. When I first met Angel back in 2014, he shared his thoughts on immigrants and boxing. This is something that Angel has been passionate about, the idea that Americans should fight Americans only. This echoes Trump’s philosophy that he recently shared in his inauguration speech: “Buy American and hire American.” Angel Garcia embodied this idea when he said that the only respect he has for his son’s opponent is that he is an American fighter. Ironically, Angel Garcia is of Puerto Rican descent, which has a long colonial history with the US as Puerto Rico remains a colony and unincorporated territory of the US. Despite that imperial legacy, Angel presents himself as a staunch supporter of Trump.

Towards the end of the presser, Angel had this to say:“God bless America. Where Donald Trump at? Come get him. I want to see Trump. Trump, where are you? Make America great again.”Need I say more? To my knowledge, this is the first clear example in 2017 that demonstrates Trump politics entering the sphere of boxing. It is ugly and contradictory of boxing as this sport has historically recruited poor black and brown fighters from all over the world. It is a sport that exploits people and denies them of basic employee benefits. Boxing heads who stand for Trump makes little sense to me. It seems more fitting that boxers would stand United Against Trump.

After Angel’s Donald Trump rant, he finished off by directing some harsh words towards boxing publicist, Kelly Swanson. I’m sure Swanson told Angel to knock it off, that is her job after all. I think it would have been better if Angel had simply ignored her plea, but rather than let it go, Angel directed harsh words towards this woman by saying, “I’ll jack you up!” Actions like this should not be normal and accepted. This is not what it means to be a man. Yet, under the new presidential regime, it does not seem like sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny will be challenged or dismantled (the people will continue these efforts despite Trump’s lack of care and conviction on these serious matters). As recently as this morning, Trump disregarded the powerful Women’s Marches that took place across the nation yesterday. Not to mention Trumps history with male entitlement over women’s bodies and their right to choice. Given these disturbing times, the question of what it means to practice healthy forms of masculinity is critical!

As mentioned earlier, the ideas that Angel Garcia has about immigration and his hyper-patriotism is nothing new. The question I leave readers with is to what extent do the beliefs and words of Donald Trump provide a green light for conservative and hate filled ideas to emerge? In response to his dad’s theatrics, Danny Garcia stated “I’ve heard Trump say Worse!” This may be true, but Angel Garcia nonetheless echoes many of the toxic ideas that we see in Trump.

As a boxing expert, fan, and critic, I also question the art of trash talking. Can trash talking manifest within reason, innovation, and creativity? Riding the curtails of hate speech to inform one’s engagement in mental warfare against one’s opponent is a misuse of a high status platform. The boxing world can do better. I believe it can.

The Legacy of Heavyweight Boxing


The most recent heavyweight belt bout was defended in fantastic fashion by Deontay Wilder from the top challenger Artur Szpilka in a stunning 9th round knockout. Wilder’s latest defense of the belt is now his most impressive, demonstrating great maturity in the ring and in his words of respect afterwards, where he commended his Polish opponent and wished his safe return home. It’s easy then to get excited about an American return to the heavyweight boxing prominence of the glorious years past, gilded with the resumes of all-time American greats like Foreman, Holyfield, Tyson, Ali, Frazier…

But is it that time already to feel like we’re in the 90’s? Where we could get amazed with IQ,  footwork and hand speed of Ali, or the sheer torque generated from the hips all the way to the teeth from Tyson? Where we could witness emotional and even political fight nights that would move nations in anticipation? I would say no, and even with Wilder’s latest defense we are only seeing a slight glimmer towards a positive direction that has arguably been slipping away from the limelight since the 90’s.

It’s easy to watch the highlights and the physicality of Wilder or even Anthony Joshua of England and say, “Yea, in 2016 heavyweights look like heavyweights.” This general media sentiment is like saying “Good, the heavyweight division is back because they’re not overweight and they use punches to win.” Where is the IQ, where is the dimensionality of heavyweights using actual boxing skills to enhance their physical gifts? According to boxing fans in 2016, that only exists in the lighter weight classes. How feeble our memories, and maybe that’s why the golden age of heavyweights will always look grander from our present point of view.

It’s important to realize that the it’s the media’s job to sell this division and I won’t ignore that Wilder is certainly taking it in a positive direction. His rededication to the sport is honorable, and his new maturity outside the ring is impressive. But at 31, he’s only beginning to scratch the boxing discipline of a 19 year old Mike Tyson. Anthony Joshua is only 26 but the overall lack of talent at the top is not showing any signs of change compared to years past. If we weren’t myopic about the boatloads of attention we’re giving to Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, we could arguably be wondering about how genetics have changed since the early 90’s to have such little talent at the top weights. In the era of Ali and Frazier, we also had Ken Norton and Larry Holmes biting at their heels. This era had gyms of giants, where their practice blows packed the full power of a Roman Gonzalez vs. Brian Viloria.

My treatise ends with me asking to wake me up when we have a real heavyweight with wings on his feet and stones in his hands. He doesn’t even have to be a poet but that would help. Maybe heavyweights do have an impossible legacy to fulfill given the rich history of boxing. Hopefully that’s not the case, because we at BMB might end up as historians, not passionate enthusiasts.


Response to Oscar De La Hoya’s Farewell Letter to Floyd

OscarFloydBy Rudy Mondragon (Twitter: @boxingintellect)

In the last day, I have received messages from close friends asking me about my thoughts on Oscar De La Hoya’s farewell letter to Floyd Mayweather. As I read the letter, I found it reeking of bitterness and resentment caused by Oscar’s relationship (or lack there of) with Floyd Mayweather. Given what we are seeing at the University of Missouri, where student leaders and the entire football team mobilized to pressure the university’s leadership for their lack of addressing racial bias and sexual violence, I feel that Oscar’s letter to Floyd needs to be addressed and discussed in new ways. In a way that goes beyond boxing.

In this letter, Oscar hits on a variety of themes. He comments on how boring Floyd Mayweather is as a boxer, the lack of risk taken in his career, and insulting Floyd for his participation in Dancing with the Stars. Many have read this and agree with Oscar. To an extent, I would also agree with Oscar. Some of Floyd’s fights have been boring. Floyd should have fought with Pacquiao five years ago. Floyd has taken calculated risks within a sporting industry that expects their employees to expose their bodies to punishment and discipline. When boxers are taking home run shots to their heads, wouldn’t you take calculated risks too? The reality is, some fighters have no choice but to take risks as boxing is a vehicle for making ends meet.

Reading this letter a second time however, I couldn’t help but be critical of the content. A second read of the letter stimulated the following questions. Why do folks continue to hate and critique Floyd Mayweather? What is informing their critiques? It seems to me that fans and media will never give Floyd credit. He could move up in weight and challenge and beat a heavyweight and people would still show him no love. I would have given Oscar more credit had he used his platform to call out Floyd’s history with gender-based violence. After all, both fighters have their shortcomings in the arena of reinforcing patriarchy and choosing to stay silent on the issues. However, Oscar used his platform as a wealthy boxing promoter and iconic retired boxer to critique Floyd from a toxic position. That position was one of anti-blackness and it informed the way in which Oscar wrote the open letter published in Playboy Magazine.

To better understand how it is possible for Oscar De La Hoya to ascribe to anti-blackness, it is important to explain Oscar’s relationship to whiteness. According to Gregory Rodriguez, De La Hoya was portrayed as an All-American antithesis to the stereotypical threatening Mexican masculinity that is over represented by the media. In other words, Oscar was considered an exceptional Mexican who was not undocumented, did not gang bang, or engage in criminal activity. He was understood as a different kind of Mexican American. In my opinion, Oscar was Mexican American boxer who was accepted by white America because he was politically safe. Gregory Rodriguez further states that Oscar was considered a racially marked man who transcended his racial status. In other words, the mainstream media and fan base of boxing didn’t always read Oscar as a person of color. He was read and presented as an American Mexican boxer who could pass for white.

As a white friendly boxer who took no political risks, Oscar De La Hoya was afforded the power he needed to succeed in the boxing game. Boxing author Thomas Hauser described Oscar as having cultivated his career as a clean-cut corporate friendly fighter. We see this manifest during the Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas press conference in 2001. Top Rank President, Bob Arum, introduced Oscar De La Hoya as a member of the school of boxing that is represented by Sugar Ray Leonard and Evander Holyfield. Arum married Oscar, Leonard, and Holyfield as examples of the gentlemen of boxing. He then said Fernando Vargas, Zab Judah, and Mike Tyson were in the opposite school of boxing. What Arum was saying is that they were from the savage and uncivilized school of boxing. As a result, Vargas was labeled as the villain while Oscar had the privilege of being presented as the hero within this moral contest. This was further confirmed as Oscar stepped up to the podium and agreed with the words of Bob Arum, stating:

“One thing that I have to say is that I try to represent boxing in a good way to make the sport grow. On the other hand we have this guy (Vargas) who is along with Tysons and the Judahs of the world.”

These words confirmed De La Hoya’s acceptance and support of labeling boxers of color as deviant threats to the white power structure.

I say all this to show a small piece of Oscar’s past experience, an experience that hardly gets mentioned since most boxing fans and media are more concerned with what happens in the ring. Oscar’s letter to Floyd had three major issues that I would like to briefly discuss. These three issues, as I argue, are informed by Oscar’s anti-blackness sentiment that informed the writing of this letter. The first is Oscar’s assumption that Floyd will unwisely blow off all his money and will have to find an alternative way to make ends meet. Oscar reduces Floyd’s legacy in boxing to simply making large sums of money. Oscar states that Floyd made,

“More money than you could spend in a lifetime. (Wait, I’ve seen those episodes of 24/7. You probably will spend it all.)”

Resentful and bitter of Floyd’s financial success, Oscar insults Floyd on a very sensitive subject. Black fighters in boxing have had sharks and leeches pray on their financial success. We know about the stories of Evander Holyfield losing his home and boxing earnings. He’s so financially unstable that he recently agreed to get knocked out by Republican Mitt Romney for a charity event!

Most recently, we found out that Felix Trinidad lost $63 million dollars investing Puerto Rican Government Bonds. An investment his financial adviser made even after he was told to invest conservatively. To say that a black man will most likely lose all his earnings speaks to Oscar’s irresponsible ignorance to the belief that black people are in poverty as a result of their cultural behavior. He ignores the dark reality of many black boxers who have risen out of poverty, earned large sums of money, and then were taken advantage of by managers and promoters who claimed to have their best interest at heart. To say Floyd can “open up a used-car dealership or run a circus” speaks to Oscar’s heartless position in taking lightly his assumption that Floyd is not smart with his money and will eventually go broke. What kind of mentality does Oscar ascribe to that inform these kinds of words?

The second issues I took with the letter is Oscar’s overall bitterness and resentment towards Floyd. He critiques Floyd for not taking risks in his career. This speaks to Oscar’s own insecurities and traumas directly related to his own career. Let’s recall the night of September 18, 1999. Oscar was undefeated and facing Felix Trinidad. Oscar fought an ultra-conservative fight. He only used his jab and never took any serious risks. He ended up losing that fight as a result of refusing to trade punches and engage in the final rounds. To me, his critique of Floyd is really a reflection of his own disapproval of how his career turned out. Yes, Oscar faced top competition. Yes, the case can be made that they were all in their prime. The reality is however, Oscar lost to all of them (Trinidad, Mosley, Hopkins, Mayweather, Pacquiao). To what extent does this inform Oscar’s letter, which can be read as a letter to vent his own frustrations with his career?

The third issues I take with this letter is Oscar’s sense of entitlement. After all, who does Oscar think he is, the Prime Minister of Boxing? The following is the most problematic statement I found in this letter. Oscar writes,

“Boxing will also be a better place without the Mouth. Your mouth, to be precise, the one that created “Money” Mayweather. I know you needed that Money Mayweather persona.”

Again, a great deal of resentment, bitterness, and jealousy. More importantly though is Oscars entitlement to feel he can say that Floyd’s career consisted of being too loud for white America. This speaks to Oscar’s (white) anxieties in not being able to control a person like Floyd Mayweather. Oscar lost to Floyd in the ring and Floyd has beaten Golden Boy Promotion fighters on multiple occasions. Writing this letter is Oscar’s attempt to re-establish dominance and control the mouth of a black man he feels is taking up too much space in the white world Oscar is so comfortable living in.

Lastly, I don’t want people reading this and thinking I am arguing that Oscar De La Hoya is trying to be white. Also, this opinion piece is not about hating on Oscar or not respecting the contributions he has made in the sport. Nor am I saying that coming up financially, as Oscar has, is a bad thing. What I am trying to show is that Oscar ascribes to a problematic ideology of whiteness, has benefited from whiteness, and writes a letter that is informed by anti-blackness. Oscar’s light skin allowed him to pass as white. Being a politically correct figure also made corporate (and corrupt) white America feel safe around Oscar. And guess what, it paid off for him. There are serious implications to this. The most important, in my opinion, is Oscar’s transformation as a result of his adaptability to whiteness.

As a person committed to social justice, I take two things very seriously. One is that I try my best to not pass judgment on anyone. Oscar is on a unique journey and it is filled with ups and downs. I don’t judge him because, the reality is, we all have struggles. I am however, critical of how he uses his earned privileges in dehumanizing ways.

The second thing I take serious is why I do social justice work. I do this work out of love. As a distant brother, I got love for Oscar. I understand that he has had to navigate a world which looks down on poor brown folks from the barrios of East Los Angeles. I understand how difficult it must have been for Oscar to deny certain parts of his identities in order to navigate the boxing industry and achieve success. I understand how hard that must have been and the price he’s had to pay in not being honest with the world about who Oscar De La Hoya really is.

My hope is that Oscar can liberate himself from the resentment and bitterness he expresses in this letter. It is part of his healing process. I hope his letter was written from a space of venting, a space that he can eventually move on from. I hope he can forgive himself for the shortcomings he thinks he had in his career and be happy with what he did in boxing. I hope he can stop comparing himself to Floyd Mayweather. It is a pointless endeavor that will keep one trapped regardless of who one compares himself/herself to. I hope Oscar can take an alternative approach and instead of trying to take Floyd down, he can find a way to reconcile with him and work together to envision a collective plan that cares about the wellbeing of boxers.

Thoughts? Opinions? Questions?

The “Elite” Gap

With the grace of hindsight, it’s nice to reflect on the Broner vs. Porter fight, a fight that means so much for the welterweight division following Guerrero vs. Thurman back in March simply because of the exciting matchup, AND two more candidates that thin the pool for the latter half of the year’s big fights. It was a contest that uncovered a tantalizing story of styles that just breeds so much speculation for how the rest of 2015 will turn out for even more exciting matchups. In the business of boxing, this is all I agree with. If the illuminati of the sport are cashing in by meticulously making deals to make stylistically alluring matchups like we had on Saturday night, then more power to them.

I might be skipping ahead though. I meant to start this article with: “This was Broner’s fight to win, yet Porter’s growth and dedication to the craft might hint of a higher ceiling for Showtime.” Sorry, long ass headline haha. But it’s true. The fight on paper was too good. A hungry infighter with fast feet and rising confidence against a loud mouth shooter that people love to watch to get hit in the mouth. It was bound to be a good time. And it was. It was massively satisfying to see Porter with a new, massively improved jab. A jab that was underrated, not yet talked about in my world of boxing, but was fast, fierce, and punishing. It demeaned whatever confidence Broner had to basically nothing. Typically the first to shoot, Broner became obviously gun-shy after Porter connected numerous times early, and Broner had no choice in his small, small mind (which makes Mayweather look so much better) but to hold and just hold. Porter improved a lot since Kell Brook, and he deserved that win wholeheartedly. Broner must re-examine his goals and see if he really wants this because the root of his motivation will inform his performance. And that’s the difference between him and his so-called big brother.

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And this is what I wanted to write about today, this gap. The gap that existed between the fight that happened last Saturday and the night of May 2nd (yes, I’m sorry, I’m still talking about MayPac). Unpacking each of the fight’s moments and looking back to Mayweather vs. Pacquiao and then further back to fights of the 70’s and 80’s — when holding wasn’t a primary strategy — showed me really how far we’ve come (or fallen, depending on your perspective) from matchups of elite talents of the past. Without diving to deep in my Hearns, Arguello, Chavez Sr. pilgrimages, I actually felt as if Porter’s win was a testament to the Church of Infighting. The church of Eddie Futch. The church of motivation, perseverance, infliction of punishment, fists, sweat, blood, and bone. Porter won from the opening bell and though today’s outboxer has high affinity for defense, Porter’s offense, though messy at times, consistently overcame, which is hard to accomplish in today’s defense-heavy boxing sport.

However, that 12-round knockdown reminded me of how fickle my faith in the Church of Infighting can be. With some body-blow investments throughout the rounds, The Problem’s perfect left hook (fast, explosive, and whip-lashing) could have had high-drama reminiscent of fights of the past. Porter’s massive preparation feigns the fact that a champion outboxer who might have laid down some brickwork bodywork in earlier rounds might have walked away with a stunning and memorable 12th round KO. A mere jester in the Order of Outboxing, Adrien Broner lost that fight (especially after not capitalizing on that KD, and foolishly trying to repeat the magic of that left hook) but in my eyes redeemed (yes, redeemed) his place among other welterweights/jr. welterweights and I do believe that this makes him still a good matchup with many in this range of weight divisions. His weight seems optimal around 144 so I would put his name in with Amir Khan, Chris Algieri, Provodnikov, Brandon Rios. Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 10.07.08 PM But what of the rest of the welterweight class? How does this fight move things around? I’ll make some speculations to contribute to the boxing world after my long winded treatise. Working backwards from Mayweather, I believe his next matchup is nobody. I feel like he’s likely to skip out a fight in 2015 to enjoy his rest. Mayweather’s not going to venture up in weight, looping in names like Miguel Cotto, coming of a good-looking win, and the likes of Canelo, still bitter and probably even more so now as he is quickly aging out of that weight class, or Triple G, who he’d rather let the pundits continue to speculate.

I think Kell Brook would do well giving Shawn Porter a rematch. Keith Thurman is in a must-win scenario against the Monk, my favorite, Luis Collazo. But you know, Luis just has a way, I know it, a way of making people look bad. I predict Thurman will remain hustling against the middle class. I know this is crazy, but he’s a good gatekeeper for the elites, to be honest. (Hey, I’m just speculating.) I think Andre Berto could come back and splash some cold water on Amir Khan if he’s waiting, and this new shit with Bradley vs. Vargas just adds more pesto to the mix. Porter vs. Marquez. I don’t even know! My matchup juju is a flutter! All I know is that no one right now is a good matchup for Floyd.

Except for a healthy Pacquiao. 😉 LOL