The Beckham of Boxing: Flattery or Jab?

Oscar De La Hoya and David Beckham have heard the same accusation during their careers -- they're more style than substance.

De La Hoya, who announced his retirement Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles, has been referred to as "the David Beckham of boxing," according to the BBC's Ben Dirs.

Dirs writes in his blog:

De la Hoya, say his critics, was a triumph of style over substance; a cynical money-making machine (boxing historian Bert Sugar calls him the sport's "ATM"); a great brand, but not a great boxer. Beckham is familiar with such accusations, although the AC Milan midfielder, who's every bit as pretty as the 'Golden Boy', probably dismisses them as envy.

Consider the terms of the 34-year-old's deal with the Galaxy -- five years, $250 million. That's a lot to envy.

He tops Forbe's list of best paid soccer players. Beckham took in a estimated $46 million last year, most of which came from endorsement deals.

He won six Premier League titles with Manchester United. The team also won the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League.

Beckham added a La Liga title with Real Madrid.


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Not bad for a guy who, at age 13, was told he was too small and weak to play for England.

His accomplishments shine, but he's often judged by his performances in the spotlight, including some disastrous World Cup appearances.

As for De La Hoya, he ended a 16-year career in which he won 10 world titles in six divisions and became one of boxing's most popular fighters.

He was thoroughly beaten by Manny Pacquiao in his last fight, his fourth loss in his last seven bouts. He had not defeated a formidable opponent since Fernando Vargas in 2002. Age and diminished skills led to losses in recent years to Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

He won his last title in May 2006, beating Ricardo Mayorga in six rounds for the WBC 154-pound belt. He finished with a record of 39-6 and 30 knockouts.

But both De La Hoya and Beckham were consistent moneymakers. De La Hoya's bouts were guaranteed pay-per-view successes, and he was a cash cow for HBO, which broadcast 32 of his fights -- most of any boxer -- and generated millions in profits for the cable network.

Even one of the least remarkable stretches of Beckham's career provides enough material for a book. His stint with the LA Galaxy is closely examined in a new book by Grant Wahl titled, "The Beckham Experiment."

The book is due out in July, which is about the same time Beckham is scheduled to return to the Galaxy from AC Milan.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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