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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Irreplaceable?: With De La Hoya gone, who's got next?

Fans around the world of sports have seen some of the best ever come and go. The legendary Michael Jordan, the fierce Dan Marino, the unbelievable Tony Gwinn, and a host of others have all stepped away from their respective sports, only to learn shortly after leaving that some up and comer with amazing potential would one day gladly step into their familiar role as one of the sports mainstream elite. After yesterdays final bow from Oscar De La Hoya, the sport of boxing is unfortunately not quite in the same position. For years, many have viewed the sport as a dying platform, and although there remains a plethora of talented figures around the sport today, few see the light at the end of the tunnel in his absence - relative to who the next mega-star with crossover appeal will be to come out of America. The 70's had Ali, the 80's had Leonard, the early 90's had Tyson, and from there it's been Oscar. But now what?

Maybe global appeal simply is a thing of the past. After all, Puerto Rico has yet to fully replace Tito, and let some tell it, Mexico has yet to truly replace Chavez. Floyd Mayweather jr. is rumored to be on his way back to the ring, but despite his amazing talent and his reluctance to don earrings and tattoos, the brash personality and connections to badboys like rapper 50Cent, among other things, have kept him from attracting that certain demographic which yearns for a that undisclosed level of perfection. Then you have the case of Manny Pacquiao, a fighter whom has the dual quality of being a good guy outside the ring but a bad man in it, yet for some odd reason, being born in the Philippines may make some question his ability to carry the torch for America, and furthermore, those individuals who remain on the fence about the sport itself haven't seen enough of those star qualities to pull them one way or the other. The main thing about Oscar De La Hoya that will be hard to replace is his cross appeal, which gave him the toughness to attract the fellas, and the sensitivity to lure the women as well. Latin, Black, White, you name it; every demographic adored the 'Goldenboy' and that's what makes him such a tough act to follow.

When you scan today's circuit throughout the sport, one would be hard-pressed to find a man who possess the looks, marketability, and talent necessary to scale that tumultuous mountain. A perfect example of this would be a review of guys who were (are) far more talented than Oscar, (such as Jones jr., Dawson, Hopkins, Mosley and more), yet none have been able to garner the attention required to make them a mainstream box office smash, which drives home the point that Oscar didn't always meet the 'bar', but relative to his standard in the sport, many can reasonably argue that he has set a very high one.

As we embark on a new phase in America for a sport at a crossroads and consider the many ego's encompassed within it, Oscar has proven one thing to us. Everybody now days wants to be a 'player', but not everyone will actually make it in the 'game'. My parting question to those up and comers who remain hungry for their 5 minutes of fame in the spotlight.....

Here's your open audition.....Now who's got next?


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