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Mailbag: Oscar's gift to the fans?

Oscar De La Hoya will fight Steve Forbes on May 3 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in a bout that Golden Boy Promotions is attempting to pitch as a gift to De La Hoya's many fans.

The spin is that by fighting on HBO instead of on pay-per-view, De La Hoya is doing his fans some tremendous favor.

I disagree that it's any kind of a favor at all.

It would be a favor if De La Hoya were to fight on network television, like NBC, where everyone could see him for free and not just those that can afford to pay the $12.95 per monthly fee HBO charges.

And it might be a favor if De La Hoya weren't earning a multi-million dollar payday for what amounts to little more than a tuneup against an outmanned opponent.

And it might be a favor if De La Hoya's company took the huge licensing fee it will receive from HBO and poured it into the undercard. But you'll see the usual collection of mismatches. Jorge Linares is a wonderful talent, but a fight with the very ordinary Billy Dib that is being discussed as the chief undercard match is hardly compelling.

This fight card is a commercial for De La Hoya's rematch against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September. There's nothing wrong with doing that but don't try to spin it as if you're being so gracious and doing the fans such a great favor by fighting a tuneup on HBO.

If De La Hoya really were serious, he'd take his purse in this fight and donate it to USA Boxing in order to help other young men have the same opportunity he had to win a gold medal and become rich and famous.

If he did that, I'd say he's doing a favor for somebody. But all he's doing is charging people for an advertisement for his company. That's no favor to me.

With that, it's on to a busy and diverse mailbag. My answers, as always, are in italics below the questions.

ON THE MONEY

Your article about Antonio Tarver is dead on. The guy hasn't had a meaningful victory since winning a close decision against a 60-year-old Rocky Balboa. Since then, Tarver has had meaningless, unimpressive victories over bums, but continues to call out Chad Dawson and then backs down when Dawson accepts his challenges. While I think Tarver deserves all the criticism he gets, I think boxing writers who criticize Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the same vein for not fighting Miguel Cotto are crazy. The difference is that Mayweather actually is the man to beat at 147 and that the less established guy in the division, Cotto, isn't pushing to make that fight happen. Before such criticisms against Mayweather are valid, I think a guy like Cotto has to show he's determined to make the fight. Cotto is the guy that has everything to gain from the fight so he should be the one pushing for it, not Mayweather.

Raj Singh
San Diego

Tarver and promoter Gary Shaw say that Tarver is the world's finest light heavyweight. Shaw, who is Dawson's promoter, said recently, "To me, Antonio Tarver is probably the best light heavyweight in the world. It seems that only three people want to believe that right now. That's (manager) Al Haymon, Tarver and myself." You have to wonder what Dawson thought when he read that. Shaw, though, is right about one thing: Only three people believe that. He apparently forgets when Tarver was routed by Bernard Hopkins and he forgets about Tarver fighting this collection of misfits. We're in the second quarter of 2008. When is the last time Tarver won a fight against a significant opponent? Try Oct. 1, 2005, or approximately 33 months ago. As for Mayweather, while I agree he's the best in the world, you shouldn't be allowed to sit on the crown. And believe me, Cotto is pushing hard for it.


FORGETTING DIACONU

There is an awesome force in the light heavyweight division by the name of Adrian Diaconu that you made no mention of in the column on Dawson and Tarver. I believe Dawson is ducking him, but you made no mention of it. Would you care to elaborate?

Yaniv Illouz

I'm happy to elaborate. Dawson had signed to fight Diaconu, but Diaconu pulled out with an injury. That doesn't sound like ducking to me. And, by the way, while Diaconu is a good opponent, could you name me his last quality win? Right, I thought so. His next quality victory will be his first.


TIRED OF TARVER

Is anyone else tired of Antonio Tarver? He constantly says he is not making excuses for his destruction at the hands of Bernard Hopkins but always comes back with "not to mention – and I would never say this – for the Rocky role I got up to 235 pounds." You either say it or you don't. You can't have it both ways. Yes, Tarver, you are making excuses, whether it be Hollywood, weight gain, or the ridiculous "poison" theory you constantly pander. You got beaten. Badly. By an old man. I hope you have some money saved up, because you are done.

Ames Brown
Kent, Conn.

What do you say we all take up a collection and buy Ames a prize for the Letter of the Week?


KHAN'S PROSPECTS

I just wondered what your thoughts are on Amir Khan? Personally, I think he will be exposed at the world title level. He definitely has a suspect chin, though he has heart. Also, he seems to me to really load up on his punches to get the power. Finally, if Oscar De La Hoya fights Mayweather again, who are you picking? I really think Oscar has a chance!

Simon Gildea
Dartford, England

I think Khan is an excellent prospect, but he's been extremely well protected by promoter Frank Warren, who has a reputation for moving a fighter methodically. I doubt Khan will ever be, say, the pound-for-pound champion, but I do think he'll wear a title belt from one of the major sanctioning bodies. As for Mayweather-De La Hoya, I go with Mayweather without any question.


"CONTENDER" IN TROUBLE

Alfonso Gomez is going to get knocked silly by Miguel Cotto on Saturday in their WBA welterweight title fight. I read where he's drawing on his Contender experience, but come on. Those fights are so edited that anyone on the show looks like a decent fighter. Every Contender fighter I have seen box after the show were huge disappointments.

Al Black

One of the problems with a series like "The Contender" is that the fighters gain great exposure but aren't necessarily world-class fighters. Then, because the public knows who they are, they get put into fights they're not ready for or that they don't deserve. I believe Cotto squashes Gomez. And speaking of unfair, how in the world does Sergio Mora rate a shot at the WBC super welterweight title held by Vernon Forrest? Mora has no quality wins, drew with a mediocre Elvin Ayala in October and he stopped Rito Ruvalcaba in January. This is the same Ruvalcaba that hadn't fought since getting stopped in the first round by Jose Luis Zertuche on Sept. 4, 2004, and who had entered the fight with Mora having lost two of his last three and six of his last 11. If a win over a guy like that is enough to qualify one to fight for the title, then said title has zero credibility.


FIGHT COTTO

Floyd Mayweather Jr. needs to stop running and face Miguel Cotto, don't you think?

Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Austin, Texas

Yes.


PROPS TO GOMEZ

In your piece on Alfonso Gomez vs. Miguel Cotto, you forgot to mention that among Gomez's major accomplishments was his surprising stoppage of Arturo Gatti sending him into retirement. Your mindset that Cotto is too strong for him was the same comments the two commentators in the Gatti fight were dishing out. I believe Gomez's self confidence has a strong basis. I believe he's got an even chance of defeating Cotto.

Ed Dames
Makati City, Philippines

Don't bet the rent money on that, Ed.


SOLIS' CHANCES

What do think are Odlanier Solis' chances are in the heavyweight division? Is he too small to compete effectively at that weight?

Pablo Lessa
Montevido, Uruguay

All Solis has done in his career has been to win. He's won an Olympic gold medal. He's won three gold medals in the World Amateur Championships. He's won two golds in the Pan American Games. There is no reason he can't continue that success in the pros. He's got at least as good of a shot as any heavyweight with fewer than 10 fights. I'll be at Solis' fight in Primm, Nev., on May 17, a bout I'm definitely looking forward to seeing to evaluate him in person. Solis is 8-0 with five knockouts.

PACMAN'S TRAINER

Would Manny Pacquiao be a better boxer with Emanuel Steward or Nacho Beristain as his trainer, rather than Freddie Roach. It's just a thought, but it could be debated.

Aaron Manaois
Riverside, Calif.

Pacquiao is a consensus No. 2 in the world, and No. 1 in the eyes of some respected analysts. How much better can he get? Freddie Roach has done a magnificent job with him and deserves much praise.

WHY SO HIGH ON FLOYD

Could you please explain why Floyd Mayweather ranks No. 1 in the pound-for-pound rankings? What great boxers in their prime has he defeated to deserve such a ranking? Also, how do you think he would do against Miguel Cotto?

Herb Muelos
Newmarket, Ontario

Let's start the parade of outstanding fighters in their primes that Mayweather has defeated: Diego Corrales, who was 23 years old, was 33-0 with 27 knockouts, when Mayweather knocked him down five times and stopped him in the 10th; Carlos Hernandez, who was 33-2-1 when he met Mayweather and would later go on to win a world title; Jesus Chavez, who was 35-1 at the time he faced Mayweather and also would go on to win a championship; and two victories over Jose Luis Castillo at a time when Castillo was considered the best lightweight in the world. He also knocked out Ricky Hatton when Hatton was 43-0 and had won world titles at 140 and 147 pounds. And that's not mentioning wins over Oscar De La Hoya, Zab Judah, Carlos Baldomir, Goyo Vargas, Justin Juuko and Genaro Hernandez. I'd say he's done enough to deserve his ranking.