Boxing: Another dream dies with fall of De la Hoya

For those of us who dream of a new Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard or Roberto Duran, someone to again make us reach for the superlatives at ringside, the defeat of Oscar de la Hoya at the weekend was still another blow.

When Shane Mosley first beat him we learned, of course, that he wasn't quite the man we had hoped he would be. But he still had a little stardust, and his feet still moved as beautifully as those of a fearless, classic matador.

Now he must be reluctantly consigned to the company of all those others who in the last few years have tried but failed to re-animate the old square ring.

One man who would not have been too surprised is Jake "The Raging Bull" La Motta, who was encountered in PJ Clark's bar on a rainy night in New York.

De la Hoya was being built to the stars at the time, and with an interview with the new messiah already secured, it was considered an idea to get La Motta's verdict.

After a considerable wait - La Motta was drinking whiskey and entertaining a young blonde lady at least 30 years his younger - it was possible to put the big question. How would the young Los Angeleno have ranked in his day?

"Oh, around eight or nine," said La Motta.

"Pound for pound?" he was asked.

"Hell, no," he said. "In the welterweights."

Thin days, indeed.