by Dean Vios
Every once in a while, boxing has its own
Super Bowl. However, in boxing there are not enough stars to fuel annual
Super Bowls, so boxing tends to have more bouts on the scale of “division
championships.” As far as public appeal and press coverage,
even this is too ambitious of a description. In actuality, the better fights of
the year generally get the press coverage of two people fighting over a parking
spot. So by anyone’s definition, the Hopkins-De La Hoya fight was boxing’s
Super Bowl. Unfortunately, any time you carry the term “Super Bowl,” you
also run the risk of encountering its real definition as amended below:
Super Bowl (soo-pur-bohl) n. : a
contest or event that is the most important or prestigious of its kind (often
failing somehow to meet its lofty expectations).
Now, when the two words “boxing” and “Super
Bowl” meet in a sentence, they take on a completely different range of
possibilities. Boxing is often called “The Theater of the Unexpected."
Combine this with the infrequency of fights on a "Super Bowl" level, and we get
higher highs, lower lows and, of course, an increased possibility of the
Hopkins-De La Hoya was indeed a boxing Super
Bowl, as were other fights including Ali-Foreman, Leonard-Hagler, Tyson-Spinks,
and even Lewis-Tyson. All of these bouts have elements similar to Super
Bowls of years past. Ali-Foreman is the story of a dynasty team looking to
make an unlikely return to the top amidst tremendous odds. Leonard-Hagler
was the closest of battles where the game may have had some questionable calls
that led to a debatable or even unpopular outcome. Tyson-Spinks was the
typical Super Bowl blow-out where the favorite performed as they were supposed
to. Lewis-Tyson was the really hyped-up game that ended up being one of
those very dull Sunday affairs where no one even watched the end. These
past bouts had a real football twinge to them. Hopkins-De La Hoya, however, was
more a Super Bowl of the boxing kind.
Though the underdog in this Super Bowl was not
given much of a chance, De La Hoya quickly showed he was not there only to make
an appearance. At only three rounds into the fight, De La Hoya had already
made a strong impression; he was not just going through the motions. Much
to the surprise of everyone watching, he was not running, and Hopkins was not
pressuring or overwhelming the smaller fighter as he had promised to. It
was apparent that this fight was not going to be a mere reply of
Hopkins-Tito. Call it nerves, call it age, call it whatever you like, but
Hopkins showed much more respect for De La Hoya than anyone could have imagined.
He certainly showed far more respect than he had to Tito.
In the following rounds, Hopkins loosened up
more and started to land, but De La Hoya was determined to give as much as he
took as he fired combinations in close. There was no surprise in who the
stronger fighter was, but the gritty De La Hoya was making it a tough fight to
But this is not football...
Reality set in almost
immediately as in the flurry of a close encounter along the ropes, De La Hoya
crumbled down in a heap of disappointment. He pounded the mat in disgust
as he writhed in pain, knowing his ability to return upright was robbed of him.
All of the hard work and exceeded expectations thus far were gone in the blink
of an accurately-placed punch -- a body shot no less! One may liken it
to losing electricity just after the middle of a movie.
Anticlimactic? Yes. Surprising?
This fight only adds to the amazing but
puzzling resume of De La Hoya. He adds yet another fight in recent years where,
despite a great effort, he did not receive the win nor was he soundly beaten in
the process. Only this time, the Golden Boy got a Golden Gancho sprinkled with
some Hopkins hot sauce.
Football fans just never need to deal with
this type of inconclusiveness or short, sudden, final ends to a game. A
“Hail Mary” attempt at the buzzer in a close game may be the nearest comparison,
but one at least enjoys the luxury of an entire game beforehand.
Not a soul could have predicted this
particular night’s sequence of events or especially the manner of its end, but
this is what a boxing Super Bowl is all about.