The urge to compete, to test yourself, to test the limits and constraints of aging, to prove that you can still do what you did ten years before, even if maybe it’s a mite harder now, is still present.
So he contemplates…and his mind percolates, and has him considering a comeback. It is territory totally familair to those top level pugilists, many of whom had spent the better part of their lives in warrior mode, learning to fight, readying themselves for combat, engaging in hand to hand altercations, and then enjoying the spoils, of dopamine and mass adoration and monetary gains, that being a world class prizefighter brings.
It really is no wonder that, at age 44, Oscar De La Hoya came on the Tattoo and The Crew radio show three weeks ago, and said he wanted to glove up one…more…time.
He’d been training for months, in secret, getting his body ready again, nine years after he’d last gloved up for real, he said on the premiere edition of the Tattoo show. That came Dec. 6, 2008, against Manny Pacquiao, and on that night, Pacquiao played the part that Sadam Ali did Saturday versus Miguel Cotto. Ali, and back then Manny, was the consigliere, offering in brutal truth format, convincing reasoning why it was time to exit the fast lane, put on the blinker and move to the right. Let the young guns motor, rev their engines, get that need for speed fulfilled. No mas time. Hang up the gloves and find other ways to pass the time…and, hopefully, accept the fact that your dopamine surges will not be replicable by other injection methods.
And after Ali played the messenger Saturday, promoter De La Hoya told we the media that yes, he had an idea of how it will feel to Cotto to step away from what has been his life focus for most of his existence: fighting.
The ex fighter was asked, as press waited for the main eventers to appear and take questions, about his own plans. Was he still aiming for Conor McGregor, wanting to fight The Notorious MMA, and improve on the performance of rival Floyd Mayweather, who needed ten rounds to stop the 0-0 pro boxer. Guys, I’d take him out in two, Oscar told us.
“If I trained six months, two rounds, easy!” he declared, grinning widely, clearly enjoying pondering the what-would-be buzz, the full-on immersion into such a project and the attached revenue, as well.
He walked away from the mic…but it magnetized him, pulled him back. Like that ring does..
“At 154, whew!”
“Sounds like you want to do it, Oscar,” journo David Yi shouted.
“My mind wants to do it, but my body doesn’t let me,” he shared.
“Could you see yourself doing another training camp?” he was asked.
“I loved training, actually, I was like a gym rat,” said the California based business-man, now building a larger conglomerate/empire in Golden Boy Promotions. “I love training, but you know what, honestly, I can’t, I can’t…I won’t do it. I can’t. I’m not. So McGregor can sleep good at night. He doesn’t have to worry, it’s all good. Don’t worry about it, it’s all good.”
He walked away, but then, again, the magnet…
“C’mon guys, you don't give me two rounds? You kidding me, I could train what, six months?”
That was in the form of a declaration and also an interrogative. That is how it is when you are like he was, and wonders if he still is. The question pops up, and demands an answer. Should I do it again? Could I do it again? And the answer is best given by shifting the scope, not to a place where proof is needed, one way or another, but toward a mood of acceptance. Accepting that it is best to not to need an answer. Let it lay. Let the past where it is…focus on the present, and less physically taxing endeavors.
Now, will he change his mind tonight? Heck, maybe he already has. And that’s his God given right. The older I get, the more I get the urge to NOT capitulate to the inevitability of aging, the stubborn insistence of deterioration.
Fighters fight, that is what they do, that is who they are.