Oscar De La Hoya has tried over and over again to reclaim the throne Floyd Mayweather Jr. inherited after their memorably forgettable 2007 fight. De La Hoya retired from boxing in 2008 after losing to Manny Pacquiao, and says there's still tension between he and Mayweather. "There's a thorn in my ribs," he said on Showtime's All Access leading up to Mayweather-Alvarez.
De La Hoya wasn't able to try and pull it out in the ring, so he sent a series of young guns to try and take care of business for him, with 23-year old Canelo Alvarez the latest in line. Each met the same demise at the quick, seemingly invisible Mayweather, despite De La Hoya's "blueprint" that appears less useful than a coloring book with each passing defeat.
Really, only Victor Ortiz, better known as that chump Mayweather knocked out after he tried to kiss him, and Canelo are truly De La Hoya's "guys," as it were. Those two received special attention and were prized assets in the Golden Boy stable. The rest of Mayweather's opponents since 2009 all received camp visits from De La Hoya, possibly to share his blueprint or possible just to get more TV time (though at this point, the difference may be negligible).
Everyone, from Ricky Hatton to Shane Mosley to Canelo, earned the now-ominous De La Hoya prediction of a victory against Floyd. None came close, and it drove De La Hoya and Mexican TV networks to desperation.
Groomed as a champion from a young age, Canelo amassed 42 fights without a loss against club fighters and relatives of champions, an impressive record for a 23-year old (on paper). His good looks -- he dated 2003's Miss Universe -- and built-in Mexican fan base, plus power, ability, and red hair to market meant he might finally be the one to knock Mayweather from his perch.
Canelo was billed as a mega-star to make him seem as on-par with Mayweather as possible. Some of it was on merit. Some was pure, media-driven hype.
The organizers had promised a massive gala with more than 30,000 screaming fans, and although the event ultimately fell well short of the hype, you would never have known it from the police presence interspersed among the ancient trees and fenced-off walkways of Chapultepec. Those of us in the press corps went back and forth on exactly how many cops there were, and we came to the following conclusions: There were somewhere between 400 and 1,000 men and women in police uniforms and at least 80 percent of those might not actually be real police officers, but instead might be people hired off the streets to provide a visual threat against a crowd that never showed up. By any fair estimate, about 5,000 people came to the event, an estimate that includes the cops, 100 press members, roughly 75 PR professionals, and about 50 Corona girls.
What had gone wrong? HBO, Golden Boy Promotions, and now Showtime had been telling us for the past five years that Canelo Alvarez was the Mexican Elvis, that his popularity in Mexico transcended sports. We were told stories about screaming women rending their blouses and offering themselves up to the redheaded one who would fulfill the wayward prophecy of Salvador Sanchez. Where was #CaneloNation?
The next morning, several news and television outlets reported that 32,000 fans had shown up for the event.
Exactly how inflated of the legend of Canelo grew is hard to say (though even his Miss Universe girlfriend works for the main TV company behind Canelo's creation, Televisa), but it was just enough to get Mayweather to bite.
Hailed as The One, Canelo entered the ring with the same punchers odds as anyone else has against Mayweather: virtually none. Canelo was dismantled, easy work for Mayweather, and De La Hoya's gamble of building his young star up too much failed miserably once again.
It's a feeling De La Hoya and the rest of the boxing world should finally get comfortable with. After defeating Canelo, there isn't anyone left to challenge Mayweather in De La Hoya's roster.
Who am I kidding? There isn't anyone in boxing who stands a chance against Mayweather, and that thorn in De La Hoya's side isn't going anywhere either.