Mailbag: Oscar shouldn't complain about calls

Kevin Iole

The next time either Oscar De La Hoya or Richard Schaefer whine about poor judging, I hope they think of Steve Forbes and Demetrius Hopkins.

The next time they complain that Golden Boy fighters can't get a fair shake in Las Vegas, I hope they remember the night that Hopkins, the Golden Boy fighter, lost about every round in the eyes of everyone except the judges who sent Forbes home last year with a highly unjust loss.

On a conference call last week, De La Hoya was asked whether he is worried about fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Sin City later in the year, given what some have viewed as a long string of decisions that have gone against the Golden Boy-promoted fighters.

De La Hoya, who, ironically enough, faces Forbes in an HBO-televised bout Saturday from the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., was further asked if he'd move his rematch with Mayweather away from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas ostensibly in an effort to guarantee more equitable judging.

"Well it's been a rocky road for us in Las Vegas, I mean, but, you know, we have a lot of faith, you know, that Las Vegas will do the right thing," he said. "I mean, you know, we're becoming such an important part of Las Vegas boxing and, you know, we want to continue it for many years to come.

"I mean, Las Vegas has proven that they are the top commission and the top, you know, state to fight in if you want to be in the big time boxing. So, you know, it's, I guess it's, you know, it happens. I mean, you have those decisions and, you know, it's just so difficult, you know, to win in Vegas, though, when you're a Golden Boy fighter. But all I can say is that I have my eyes very, very close on them and we're going to open up our eyes even more. And, you know, but we have the utmost respect for them and, you know, the bottom line is that they're a very respectable commission."

Ask yourself why would it be difficult for a Golden Boy fighter to win in Las Vegas? This is a company that invigorates the Nevada economy more than any sports entity besides the UFC. If anything, it would seem logical it would get the benefit of the doubt were the judges doing anything but calling them like they see them.

Unlike Top Rank's Bob Arum, it is not De La Hoya's nature to be overtly critical of the commission, but there is no mistaking what he is saying.

The Golden Boy is clearly asking for his fighters to get a little love in Nevada, or else. There were several media outlets that picked up De La Hoya quotes and wrote of his frustrations. But none of them talked about the string of exceptionally close fights that most believed could have gone either way, or about how Forbes appeared to be robbed in the fight with Demetrius Hopkins.

Plus, the assertion that Golden Boy is in the midst of this lengthy streak of controversial losses in Las Vegas simply is incorrect. Golden Boy's four biggest-name fighters are De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Marco Antonio Barrera and Shane Mosley.

In their last two bouts in Las Vegas, the four have combined to go just 4-4. De La Hoya knocked out Ricardo Mayorga and lost a split decision to Mayweather. Bernard Hopkins decisioned Winky Wright and lost a close split decision verdict on April 19 to Joe Calzaghe. Mosley decisioned Luis Collazo and knocked out Fernando Vargas, while Barrera lost decisions to both Juan Manuel Marquez (another Golden Boy fighter) and Pacquiao.

The only one of those four losses that could be seen as remotely controversial was Hopkins' loss to Calzaghe. But while the media was split on its verdict, HBO's Harold Lederman had Calzaghe, as did an overwhelming number of Yahoo! Sports readers who voted in a poll.

Barrera was cleanly beaten by Marquez and Pacquiao and both calls were clearly correct. And De La Hoya seemed to have gotten every possible benefit of the doubt in getting a split decision loss to Mayweather.

Golden Boy is considering Marquez's loss to Pacquiao among its recent string of controversial defeats. While I scored the bouts for Marquez and Hopkins, respectively, I concede that both fights were extraordinarily close and could have gone either way. There is zero evidence of a judging bias against Golden Boy fighters, and De La Hoya had the duty to make that clear.

John Bailey, the wise chairman of the Nevada commission, insists he wasn't offended by De La Hoya's words and said he doesn't view them as a threat.

Bailey said he wants as much transparency in the judging process as possible and welcomes input from promoters.

"I encourage him to keep his eyes on us as much as possible," Bailey said. "I respect Oscar. I respect Richard Schaefer and their entire organization. Not once in my tenure on the commission have I ever suspected that Richard or Oscar or anyone with their company played fast and loose with us. If Oscar tells me things, I believe him. I can't say that about all promoters. I give Oscar and Richard a lot of credit and consider them very good and honest licensees."

I believe they're honest, too. And I believe their whining about the scoring is a matter of frustration. But it's a sensitive area in boxing, because there is an unwarranted but still widely held perception that the sport is corrupt.

When the sport's biggest name threatens to keep an eye on the sport's most influential regulatory body, it's a message that he suspects things may not be on the up and up all the time.

What he should have said was that there have been a string of big fights our guys have lost, but they've been very close fights that could have gone either way. While we believe our guys won, we realize we're looking at them through biased eyes and we have full belief and faith in the integrity of the commission and we plan to continue to stage fights in Las Vegas long into the future.

Boxing has enough problems as it is without a superstar like De La Hoya suggesting, however subtly, that there may be some funny business occurring.

With that, I'll move on to answer your questions. Remember, my answers are in italics below the questions.


I have long been a fan of Oscar De La Hoya's, but I wonder how he's going to be remembered when his career is over. I think he's great, but I wonder if that opinion is held in the boxing community.

Keith Clear
Brainerd, Minn.

De La Hoya could lose every fight he has between now and then end of his career and he'll make the Hall of Fame. He has been an incredible ambassador for the sport and has been an exceptional fighter. He's not in the class of fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler or Thomas Hearns, but he's a solid Hall-worthy fighter. He was matched appropriately early in his career by the astute matchmaker, Bruce Trampler of Top Rank, but De La Hoya doesn't have to apologize for his record. He's never ducked anyone it was reasonable for him to fight and he was competitive in every fight he's ever taken. He's a legend and deservedly so.


Although it's a positive step for boxing to have some clearfavorites in most of the weight classes, how big of an issue is it still that no heavyweight even comes close to being in the Yahoo! Sports top 10 rankings? At this point, how big would a true heavyweight unification bout be for the sport, especially since the general public really isn't familiar with any heavyweightname other than Klitschko?

Vincent Abrego

I don't think it hurts the sport at all, Vincent. The heavyweights simply aren't very good now. There are a lot of terrific fighters out there and more good ones on the way. It's good fights we should be interested in, not the size of the fighters in those fights. Things are cyclical and I suspect we'll have a time in the not-too-distant future where the heavyweights have several quality contenders. They'll get a lot of attention when they arrive. But the division reeks now and it's best to be ignored and attention placed on the quality athletes competing elsewhere.


I wanted to write and ask your opinion on the middleweight class. Do you think any of the fighters who have fought in the middleweight division, could give Marvelous Marvin Hagler a run for his money, and actually beat him when he was in his prime and completely dominating the division? I believe the only middleweight who could have beaten him was Sugar Ray Robinson and he was not near the strength and size of Hagler. I believe Hagler would have worn down all the modern day middleweight greats, for late-round TKOs or easy decisions. What are you thoughts?

Kirk Thompson
Phoenix, Ariz.

Boxing has been blessed with a tremendous number of superb middleweights, Kirk, and Hagler is clearly one of them. He's a top five, perhaps top three, middleweight of all-time. He would clean the floor with any middleweight active today, including the man who held a middleweight belt for more than a decade, Bernard Hopkins. But I don't know that he would have been such a lopsided favorite over guys like Stanley Ketchel, Harry Greb and Carlos Monzon, let alone Robinson. And don't forget, he couldn't lift the title from Vito Antufermo in his first try and lost to Sugar Ray Leonard when he was 32, in what could still have been considered his prime. Terrific fighter, one of the all-time greats, one of my personal favorites. But I'm not going to flat-out call him the best ever.


The Hopkins-Calzaghe fight was ridiculously boring. I knew bythe fourth round that I was most likely wasting my time. Well, I was right. Marvin Hagler would have needed maybe eight or nine rounds combined to knock both Hopkins and Calzaghe out. He would have done so at the end of his career, too. Hopkins was a joke, and Calzaghe, wow, Hagler would have walked right through this guy He'd fare no better than Alan Minter did when Hagler won the title. I don't know how anyone could say that fight was in the least bit exciting. Neither fighter connected a meaningful punch the whole fight. And please, that knockdown punch by Hopkins wouldn't have floored too many people. Ther was just enough on it to put Calzaghe down. Guys like Hopkins need to go away. So now Calzaghe is talking about fighting Roy Jones, but Roy Jones is a joke. What's your opinion on a fight like that?

Milwaukee, Wisc.

Hagler would have had no problems with either Hopkins or Calzaghe even if both men were in their primes. As for the Jones fight, Calzaghe is in the game to make money and he'll make the most by fighting Jones. He should handle Jones, given that Jones is nowhere near the fighter he once was.


How can Nate Campbell be the man at 135? Not only is Joel Casamayor the linear champ, but he also owns a clear victory over the Galaxy Warrior. I know he is on the downside of his career, but show El Cepillo some love. If nothing else, at least his win over Michael Katsidis fight shows he still has something to bring to the ring. Hopefully, he's got two or three more big fights left.

Brooklyn, N.Y.

When I wrote that Campbell is the man at 135 pounds, it was done full well knowing Casamayor held the linear title. But, speaking as we were of bad decisions, Casamayor was the benefactor of a horrible call in his fight with Jose Armando Santa Cruz in November. And while I know Casamayor has beaten Campbell, I believe Campbell has gotten better since then and Casamayor has regressed. Campbell's domination of Juan Diaz proves he's the best lightweight in the world.