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 Boxer’s Pride: Served Two Ways

The Fight of The Century. The fight they were talking about for 5 years, and complained about it for hours afterwards, including yours truly.

I’m here to share a reflection that maybe it actually was a classic, but in ways that weren’t obvious, and in layers maybe we’ll never know. Or we’ll continue to learn in the coming days as everyone collectively learns how human these fighters are compared to the demigods that we were building them up as in the last couple months. Not to say that Floyd and Manny are normal humans. They represent the absolute pinnacle of human athleticism combined with one of the oldest of martial arts. They both carry the pride and spirit of champions past, but just a way we’re not used to yet.

The narratives coming into the fight were unusually flipped, where Mayweather was the one subdued in public, actually not claiming yet to win but touting supreme and cautious confidence. Critics of Floyd were already calling him scared, and even as the fight progressed, his own father claimed how he was fighting scared. Manny on the other hand flew early from the islands to Los Angeles eager to start camp before the fight was even announced. If being Filipino is a source, that just fueled the flame for fans anticipating the fight being made. Freddie Roach immediately began a campaign, marketing his 5-year gameplan and commenting on how pleased camp was progressing, even as rumors now swirled on how the camp hid details like injuries in plain sight.

Then the fight actually happened, and both fighters demonstrated why they were number 1 and 2 in the world. Except 1 was several stories upwards from 2, and 2 was flights up from 3 to N. And as the fight progressed and I was in fact only now realizing that we were watching the Floyd Mayweather Jr. show, and the champion’s adjustments slowly pulled away from the challenger.

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The fight ended and Floyd immediately stood on the ropes and told the crowd “I won.” He crossed his arms and let the rain of boos wash over him. Manny took a while, but raised his arms, however he couldn’t feign, his head wasn’t raised. Floyd’s smiled shone through, as if he hasn’t smiled in years, and was gracious to his opponent for what seemed like the first time ever amongst the 47 previous opponents.  “Thank you for marketing for me, those Foot Locker commercials, for bringing your fans, and giving me your best.” He seemed to say. Manny’s body might not have been 100% able, but his pride drove his legs to the steps of the canvas. Now, Manny seemed more broken than ever. Floyd thanked God, while Manny cursed his under an ever-amicable smile.

In his storied past, Pacquiao’s raw talents brought him out of the streets and into the land of lucrative prizefights. If God had ushered Manny to discover his gifts, it was Man that led him astray. His so-called yes-men had driven every decision in his life since his sensational strings of fights and displays of courage. He was yet refined, and reminded people about boxing’s savage past, and brought hope to simple men in a simple country. Yet that simpleness was exploited, all the way to the last hour where in pride and simple loyalty he could not even predict his own future. Instead his “team” and Bob Arum will determine his future.

On the other hand, Floyd celebrated as soon as he heard the clap of the 10 second mark. As his internal clocked wound to 48-0, his resume grew to one more champion defeated, and he relished the words he would impart to his doubters. But something tells me this win was different, how happy he was. Floyd was arguably already transforming into the affable personality hidden underneath the riches, his gifts, his vision. The prime example of the self made man making unheard business moves on a shark-infested environment, he seemed to finally allow himself to celebrate his accomplishments and shed his persona. He only has one fight left, what left does he have to hide?

As for Manny, I hope he can ask his own heart of his desires. A man of responsibility, he has carried a burden too big, in the name of God, to ever start complaining about what own needs are… but he should, and I hope he does. He carries an old soul derived from the great champions of the past, who at times carried their burden/debt/sins/guilt/pride to their death. Floyd is fiercely fighting that archetype, believing that champions who have served the sport deserve the best of this life. That new pride is a needed evolution for the souls in this sport, and will define its future. Cheers, everyone.


T-30 Days: A Look at Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The bloodmoney boxing crew has been admittedly quiet, in contrast to other boxing fan sources, about the upcoming Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao superfight and I’m writing today in hopes to analyze why we hesitate in our excitement. Is it doubt? Is it fear? Is it the feeling that we don’t want to be buttered up only to be let down?

“I won’t believe it until the first bell rings…”

“It’s weird that most of the actual promotion work is being done by the fans, as if the boxing powers that be are actually downplaying this fight…”

This blog was founded in 2011 on the theme of a group of friends passionate about the heritage and tradition of the sport of boxing, but also because of the stark realization that the sport was changing right before our eyes, and we wanted to document it’s journey.

To us, it’s no surprise that Floyd Mayweather Jr. was to serve as an important focal point for our blog, but we chose a different stance. We realized that Floyd is just the obvious target and instead tried to look beyond and through Floyd Mayweather Jr. to discover what was behind the fighter, the caricature, the record, the motivation, the values, the philosophy. Kind of like deconstructing Michael Jackson’s stratospheric rise in pop music as an icon, we were similarly analyzing Floyd to understand the truly unique stamp he has and is putting on the sport. Hate all you want, he has created a legacy. It is not legacy that fits the archetype of past legends of boxings, but it is a legacy nonetheless and has changed boxing since Floyd has been in the sport.

Floyd’s 47-0 record is a number people like to put on a pedestal. I will openly dismiss these numbers because I would believe that Floyd felt actual fight competition in the ring only a handful of times, and I’m perfectly OK with that, at least examples of competition exists. It’s only when it doesn’t exist that I start to feel nostalgia for years that have been long past. The present idea of “Boxing competition” has changed the sport and the fans for the worse because it whet audience appetites for “favorites” and such concepts like “A-side” and “B-side”. Al Haymon has fully capitalized on that appetite by creating a boxing world where B-sides expect to lose and are happy to pick up a paycheck, and fans are satisfied following and witnessing “win” after “win” of their favorites as they promote a winner’s lifestyle, instead of championship pride. That’s the thing, though. Floyd the boxer wasn’t manufactured that way, it only seems so. Floyd’s lifestyle, royalty, and on-camera grace veils a championship drive that’s as old as the sport. It’s just that he also happens to be an American living in Vegas in 2015 and has appealed to fans with his achievement of gilded chariots and golden thrones, as opposed to the millions of hours of work that he’d rather downplay with words and interviews in his mansion.

If we look at his boxing we see another story. It’s easy to dismiss and compartmentalize Floyd’s boxing style as defensive. If I were to put words to his style it would be something like “Spiteful Retaliation”. He trains to fight a dragon and makes certain that his body and reflexes can fight the fight three times over come fight night. There’s so much evidence that this fight he’s training more, and respects the potential Manny Pacquiao that will show up May 2nd. This fact speaks volumes on promoting this fight, without any of the mouth that the fans are accustomed to. What does this mean for the fight? What is he preparing to unfold on May 2nd?

I chose the words Spiteful Retaliation because I wanted to write “Tai Chi”, except Floyd does not exude that grace. Tai Chi supposes that energy has existed and has always existed, and all there is to do is to redirect and guide it. Close analysts of Floyd’s style and students of the defensive style of boxing can see that he does that but to me, he taps into his own reserve of energy that actually feeds off opponents energy. That consumption of energy is spiteful. He feasts on the aggressors that he’s welcomed into’ his trap and retaliates with timing and placement. There are other examples of punchers that hurt, but Floyd seems to have studied pressure points on the body and head. Other times, he just plays with the head knowing that disrupts just about every fighter, and keeps them on their feet only to his pleasure of maximizing his time underneath the lights.

It might be telling that Floyd is training so hard. To me it signals a different attitude coming into the fight. To me it’s him challenging the old guard and proving his worth amongst the hall of fame. It does feel like Floyd is coming with a chip on his shoulder and is aiming to not only direct his spiteful retaliation to his upcoming opponent, but also to the whole world. His aim just might be to knock out the entire world on May 2nd.

Adrien Broner: Scapegoat Racist

By Rudy Mondragon 

Racism: Beliefs, actions, practices, and social/political systems that create a hierarchy of races deemed more superior or inferior to each other. Racism gives advantages to groups with power and privilege (white) and is manifested towards people of color who are in subordinated positions.

Adrien Broner was recently used as a scapegoat of racism in a time where racial insensitivity is a hot topic. This is due to the recent incident with Clippers owner, Donald Sterling and his hate towards black people, not wanting black people at his basketball games, and his history of racism. Although what Broner said this past Saturday night after his victory over Carlos Molina was racially and culturally insensitive, disrespectful, arrogant, lacked humility, and ignorant, I would not say that it was racist. A racist position would be someone who said something of someone from a different race with language and a tone of hate and power over another racial group. As a black man, Adrien Broner is not in a position of power, but more so in a position to disrespect an entire community as a result of his dominant performance over Carlos Molina (who is Mexican and Argentinian).

The question here is: Where were the suspensions or fines for racially insensitive shit before the Sterling fiasco? Had the Sterling incident not gone down, would the WBC acted the way they did towards Broner? The actions taken towards Broner come at a time where racialized (the process of making something about race) discourse is a sensitive issue and actions are more reactive than proactive. The actions taken by the WBC towards Broner is more of a move to protect the Mexican fight fan market than addressing racism in the boxing world. With that said, the WBC’s attempt was poorly executed because it was in the name of business rather than intentionally addressing systemic racism and hate. They were actions taken for the sake of taking action.

It is easy for white people to label people of color as racist in order to mask their own white privilege, power, and racial bias. Doing this frees them from discussing their own issues with racism and power and makes racism a universal practice that everyone engages in equally. Example, in 2012 Floyd Mayweather made a comment about the attention that Jeremy Lin was receiving was due to his Asian identity.

FM Tweet

There is a truth to what Floyd was saying that was misunderstood. Jeremy Lin was seen as an exotic player because he did not fit the norm of what a basketball player in the NBA looks like. As a result, the NBA and fans made a huge deal about a player (Lin) that was no different than other stand out rookies. Lin had MVP numbers in his first 10 games as a starter for the Knicks (24.6 points, 9.2 assists, and shot 49.7 percent from the floor), but in the next seven games his production dropped (CBS Sports). Yet the words that Floyd Mayweather put out were misconstrued, taken out of context, and simplified to Floyd being a racist bigot. It’s not that simple. If something is not within the norm, it is seen as exotic and when exoticized (process of making something or someone exotic), there is an opportunity to make money off of it, which is what was done with Jeremy Lin (See Lin Jersey Sales).

In conclusion, this piece is not an attempt to excuse Adrien Broner of his mistake. Let’s be VERY CLEAR ABOUT THAT. However, I do not think a suspension is fitting for his actions. I would say a monetary fine is more appropriate as his racially and culturally insensitive words would warrant consequences in any work place. Again, the question is, where were the suspensions or fines in the boxing world for racially and culturally insensitive shit before the Sterling fiasco? Remember Freddie Roach’s words towards Donald Leary and calling him a “Fucking Mexican” or Jim Lampley saying James Kirkland needs to “go ghetto on him” or his insensitive comments towards Islam?

The list goes on. The conversation of racism in boxing needs to be addressed and folks need to be held accountable in a more equitable fashion. This reactive response from the WBC and from the boxing world labeling Adrien Broner a racist is a scapegoat move that needs to be further discussed. I suggest that racism in boxing be seriously dealt with by looking at the history of racism in boxing, understanding it, and taking well informed action in addressing it and calling out those who have power and privilege that go untouched when being racially insensitive and bias.

Photos: A Conversation with Steve Forbes

IMG_0344By Rudy Mondragon  

In my recent visit of the Wild Card Boxing Gym, I was able to chill with Steve Forbes (35-12, 11 KOs). Forbes is the boxer who fought Oscar De La Hoya and has provided valuable sparring rounds to many top fighters. Forbes mentioned that he is going to fight in early April and will be doing some sparing with Manny Pacquiao and possibly Marcos Maidana in preparation for Floyd Mayweather Jr.

My first question for Forbes was who he thought were the top trainers in the game based on these four: Joel Diaz, Freddie Roach, Virgil Hunter, and Robert Garcia. He responded by saying Freddie Roach, Robert Garcia, Joel Diaz, and Virgil Hunter. Maybe he placed Freddie at the top since we were in his gym. He said Freddie is consistent while Garcia is a busy trainer and Joel is growing his gym (I reminded Forbes that it appears that Victor Ortiz has joined Joel’s stable of fighters).

Victor Joel

Forbes did not say why he placed Virgil fourth. Maybe it was because of Alfredo Angulo’s recent loss to Saul Alvarez. Then I remembered what Freddie Roach told me about the attention that Virgil Hunter has been receiving as a trainer. Roach stated that Virgil is getting a lot of attention these days as a defense oriented coach. However, according to Roach, “just because you have a defensive fighter in Ward, does not necessarily make you a defensive style coach.” Furthermore, trainers do not change the styles of their fighters and expecting Virgil to change Angulo, Khan, and Berto (all offensive fighters) is asking for a revolutionary act.

Forbes also shared his thoughts on the late (he’s not dead, but his career might be) Victor Ortiz. Steve and Ortiz go way back. They have worked together and are good friends. According to Forbes, Victor has been hit with harder punches in training camp than in his recent fight against Collazo. He thinks that Victor has lost his passion and is no longer motivated to fight since he is more focused on doing movies and promoting his own cologne. I agree with Forbes. Victor is in a situation where he needs to be resurrected by a new trainer and a new promotional banner. It was a mystery as to who trained him for his last fight against Luis Collazo, let alone the fact that Oscar De La Hoya tweeted immediately after his last fight that he should basically retire.

The last thing we discussed was Floyd Mayweather vs Marcos Maidana. We both agreed that Marcos Maidana could be in similar danger as Ricky Hatton. In Ricky’s fight against Mayweather, he kept trying to walk through Mayweather. Eventually, Floyd adjusted and used Ricky’s momentum against him and knocked him out with a nasty left. Forbes said that Maidana will need to be aggressive, but not reckless.

It was a good moment to share with Steve Forbes. He is one of the hardest working guys out there. He has dedicated himself to the game and hustles to make a living. Not only did I seen him at Wild Card, but I had also seen him at Robert Garcia Boxing Academy sparring with Marcos Maidana. This is the life of an industrial fighter. The hustle and struggle is real both in the competition and in practice ring. One has to do what one has to do in order to survive and thrive in the game of boxing.

Floyd Mayweather’s Top 5 Career Moments

Behind The Gloves and Gorilla Productions hooked up to put together this great video. Floyd Mayweather’s top 5 career moments gives fans insight to his experience’s of great emotion, struggle, victories, defense, rise to stardom, and the capturing of his first title.

With Floyd days, hours, minutes away from announcing his next opponent, this video will provide a good opportunity to remember, recall, and reflect on the greatness of Floyd. Hate him or love him, he is simple The Best Ever of our current boxing era.

Enjoy, Blood Money Boxing family!

Floyd scared? Manny Says “Kinda”

Credit goes to the Ring Magazine article (, but this is a crazy compilation on basically what would make ALL of my 2014 be the best of all years, a fight between Manny and Floyd. We’ll see, but overall, after this video, and if Floyd NEVER fights Manny, I would still tell my kids that Manny was the people’s champ, period.