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De La Hoya vs. Ayala: Only in your Dreams: David Warren Kirsch


Tony "El Torito" Ayala began his comeback last night after an almost seventeen year layoff. It took him less than nine minutes to destroy an overmatched Angel Esparza.

While this might, at first glance, seem impressive, in truth it is neither as good or as bad as it looks.

The good points to this comeback are that Ayala weighed only 160 pounds in his first comeback fight. This is only an six pound difference between what he weighs now and what he weighed in 1983, when he was a nineteen year old, top contender for the WBA Junior Middleweight Title. The other good point to the return of the little bull is that he seems to have not lost the desire to fight even though he may not have the burning hatred that once drove him to destroy his opponents.

Unfortunately, there seem to be more bad points to this latest veteran comeback. First of all, at age thirty six how much time does Ayala have left before all of the speed that lighter weight fighters so desperately need is all but dissipated. With that speed gone the aging bull will be a sitting target for any young matador with a heartbeat. Secondly, we as spectators, cannot really discern from last night's bout what tools Ayala truly possesses. In short, he was in with a "schmear case" with a record of 19 wins, 4 losses, and 1 draw. Thirdly, Ayala's advisor Don Elbaum was quoted in the Dallas Morning News as saying: "We don't really know how much Tony has left. And as far as I'm concerned, we don't have to find out until we get to De La Hoya." If this is truly what Elbaum has planned for Ayala, I suggest rethinking this strategy. While, a fight with Oscar De La Hoya would certainly make a good payday for Tony, I'm not sure that he wants to risk getting his head caved in by a fighter who has been active, at least by today's standards. This would not be a good time to see what Tony Ayala has left. Besides, the only way that Ayala would have a hope of fighting boxing's erstwhile "Golden Boy" is if De La Hoya wishes to pad his record. There are two possible scenarios for this.

One, if De La Hoya wins his impending match against Felix Trinidad, Oscar may be looking for an easy first title defense. This would mean that Ayala would, most likely, have to lose thirteen more pounds to meet De La Hoya at the welterweight limit. The reasoning behind this course of action would be that the bout could generate more hype as a title defense than a non-title bout and therefore, more hype means more revenue generated by the bout. Ayala might have his strength sapped by having to lose so much weight. Since "El Torito's" thudding punches are the only chance that he would have against the much younger De La Hoya, Tony cannot afford to risk sapping that strength by fighting at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds. The second scenario is if De La Hoya losses the fight against Trinidad he will almost certainly go up in weight to either 154 pounds or 160 pounds. If this is to be the course of action De La Hoya might be looking for a trial horse at that weight. Although, this scenario might be better for Tony Ayala, it is hard to imagine him beating De La Hoya in either case.

The sport of boxing, more than any other sport, has opportunities for athletes of different eras to meet each other. Sure, De La Hoya could fight Tony Ayala but, the reality of the situation is that Ayala could and most likely would get seriously hurt in a fight with De La Hoya. In short, fantasy has a slim chance of becoming reality. Reality is an important thing to remember. Don Elbaum should remember that for Tony Ayala's sake. The best thing to do is stay away from Oscar De La Hoya because the only place that Ayala can now beat a fighter like De La Hoya is in his dreams.

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